Preseason football ended last night. Ohio State got off to a shaky start. Oklahoma State got off to a crazy start. And Ezekiel Elliott is suing the NFL. So there is a ton of football to talk about, but I’m starting with baseball.
Why? Because yesterday was one of the busiest days in recent memory. The Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks and were swept for the first time this season. CC Sabathia called out the Red Sox for a first inning bunt. Addison Russell hurt his foot and will miss another three weeks, and those aren’t even the biggest stories.
Let’s start with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who took a pair of big swings in adding Justin Upton from the Tigers and Brandon Phillips from the Braves. Brass moves for a team that’s 1 1/2 games out of the AL wild card and I love it.
Those moves send a powerful message to a clubhouse that has battled through injuries all year and stayed in the hunt – message being that the front office is all-in. They just took their two weakest positions, left field and second base, and made them strengths by adding a 4-time All-Star with 28 homers and 94 RBI.
Think that makes their lineup any more dangerous? Think Mike Trout appreciates that very much? Think he’s pumped that maybe he doesn’t have to carry that team by himself; that he didn’t just waste another Hall of Fame season of his first ball career? And then, on top of that, you add Dat Dude BP – are you serious with that? Dat Dude BP in SoCal? Does it get any better than that? Maybe Trouty will get another sniff of the postseason after all.
But not only was the Upton deal not the biggest move of the day, it wasn’t even the biggest move involving the Detroit Tigers. Because after a month-long saga, and reportedly having a deal in place only for the main piece of that deal to veto it earlier in the day, within minutes of the deadline, the Tigers and Astros agreed on a deal to send Justin Verlander to the Astros. BAM. The team with the best record in the American League just added a future Hall of Famer.
And the Tigers run with Miggy and Verlander was over. It was a good run while it lasted, but it was time to move on. This year has been a mess and they had to reboot. The last few years have been a mess. So they decided to rebuild. And I don’t blame them at all for this fire sale.
On the other hand, the Astros aren’t about rebooting, they’re about getting stronger and going deeper. For a while now, their M.O. has been to keep young talent, grow from within, and then supplement with smart deals from the outside. This wasn’t that. The Astros never make this type of deal. Never give up those types of prospects or take on that kind of contract. But they did both.
At a time when the team and that town needed it most. That is a huge swing. And while they have the best record in the American League, they have one of the worst records in all of baseball since the all-star break… This is a franchise that has only been to the World Series once… So when you have a chance to get there, you have to pull the trigger. Especially since that clubhouse reportedly was so upset mgmt… Didn’t get them any additional help back at the trading deadline in July. Fact is, prior to last night, they didn’t have enough to win it all. And getting Verlander doesn’t guarantee that they’ll win it all. But doing nothing wouldn’t have guaranteed they wouldn’t have. Their rotation has been really shaky of late. Verlander, immediately steps in as their one: their horse.
Because, Dallas Keuchel hasn’t been himself since coming off the DL and Lance McCullers Jr. is still on the DL. A team with an 11 ½ games lead on September 1st rarely needs to make a move, but the Astros absolutely needed this, because they aren’t about winning the division or just reaching the postseason. They’re about winning the whole damn thing. And if McCullers comes back healthy, if Keuchel finds his groove, and Carlos Correa gets healthy as well, look the hell out.
Not my money, of course, or prospects, but I love what both the Angels and Tigers did. And shout out to my man, Dat Dude: Dude, for whatever reason, we have not been able to run you down: hope that changes now that you’re an Angel.
In fact, hit me up once you’re settled; I can put in a good word for you at Javier’s, Crystal Cove and Irvine Spectrum. Because once you are settled baseball wise, that’s the first thing you have to do life wise.