UPDATE: Astros close to multi-year deal with Brett Myers

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UPDATE: Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that the Astros are close to a multi-year deal with right-hander Brett Myers.

The Astros were reported to be reluctant to trade Myers, though many — including myself — thought they were bluffing. The 29-year-old right-hander has been a real bargain for the ‘Stros this season, compiling a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts. His contract includes an $8 million option for next season, though as I mentioned earlier, they’ll probably start from scratch here.

2:56 PM: Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle was told that the Astros will not trade Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez. The club listened to offers, however they didn’t hear anything they liked.

In fact, Justice hears that the Astros are looking to get Myers under contract for next season. He is making $3.1 million this season has an $8 million mutual option for next season. Myers would probably rip that one up if he can get a multi-year deal.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears the same thing, though we still have a little over an hour left before the 4 pm ET deadline, so they could probably still be overwhelmed.

9:15 AM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Astros are listening to offers for Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, though they are “not that motivated” to trade them.

9:02 AM: Over the past 10 days or so, we’ve heard that the Astros were reluctant to deal Brett Myers. Their hesitation didn’t make a whole lot of sense, really, because the resurgent Myers is likely to choose free agency instead of his $8 million option for 2011. Well, it sounds like the Astros have finally come to their senses or maybe they intended to deal him all along.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Astros have “become more open-minded” to trading Myers now that he is the top right-handed starter on the market. And according to a source, the Twins are one of the teams in the discussion.

Myers, 29, is 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts this season and has gone at least six innings in each and every one of them. He recently allowed just one run in a complete game win over the Cubs on Tuesday night and has a 1.67 ERA over his last four starts.

Morosi writes that the Twins have a need for starting pitching and might want to counter the White Sox, who added Edwin Jackson on Friday, thus continuing the myth that he is somehow a difference-maker. Morosi believes that it would take Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn to get Myers. If it’s the recently-demoted Blackburn that the Astros want — he of the 6.66 ERA and the $14 million contract — Aaron would probably drive him to Houston.    

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

Associated Press
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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.