Getty Images

Josh Reddick: Astros ‘down in the dumps’ about team standing pat at trade deadline

21 Comments

The Houston Astros stood pretty much pat at the trade deadline, adding Francisco Liriano but not much else. This despite the fact that key members of their rotation has spent a lot of time on the disabled list and the fact that other American League contenders made moves to improve themselves.

Of course, the Astros had a 16-game lead in their division at the deadline and, even with their current skid, they still possess a 13-game lead. They’re going to win their division and they stand just as good a chance to make noise in the playoffs as anyone. Meaning everyone, because the playoffs are inherently unpredictable and no single acquisition guarantees anyone October glory.

Still, there are many who believe that the Astros failing to land a starting pitcher such as Justin Verlander, Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish bodes ill for the team’s chances and these folks have spent the past two weeks feeling kind of deflated. They’re not just fans, either. Some of the disappointed folks are Houston Astros players.

Astros outfielder Josh Reddick was on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM yesterday and he had this to say about the front office’s lack of moves:

“I think deep down everybody in that clubhouse knew we were going to make some moves to make us a really great team to a team that put us over the edge, especially with all the moves you see moving around the league. It’s nothing against our guys, we are a great team, but any time you can make your team better you feel like should have the opportunity to do that and take full advantage. I think deep down, we all were, I don’t know if you want to say disappointed or upset, I guess we were just kind of down in the dumps because we feel like we had a pretty good shot at getting somebody to help this team get over that hump to where we needed to be.”

The Astros could still make a trade — Justin Verlander has cleared waivers and could be had, albeit for a hefty price in terms of prospects, salary obligations or both — but I find it odd that a player has the same viewpoint of fans who think a strong team MUST make a big deadline deal.

Especially Reddick, who himself was part of a big deadline deal a year ago, going from Oakland to the Dodgers along with Rich Hill. Hill battled blister issues and wouldn’t make a start for L.A. for three weeks after the deal. Reddick struggled down the stretch. That’s no knock on either of them. It’s just an example of how you can’t bank on anything when it comes to a deadline deal.

I think the Astros are going to be fine. I also think that they have the talent in place to be fine for many, many years. No sense in dealing a good bit of it away for two months worth of production and a far-from-certain chance of an enhanced playoff run.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

Getty Images
11 Comments

Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.