clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

On the Astros: Joe Musgrove and a disappointing trade deadline

New, 77 comments

The Rangers made trades. The Astros just called up a player. Don't be sad. Get excited.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

There's some poetry in Joe Musgrove's rise to the big leagues tonight. A spot was made on the roster after the Astros traded a reliever in the last year of his contract.

A little over four years earlier, he became a part of the Astros organization because another reliever on the last year of his deal was traded to Toronto.

But, you'll have to forgive fans if they're not in a mood to appreciate Joe Musgrove Day. Over the weekend, they saw the Rangers lead in the American League West balloon to six games, thanks to a sweep by the Tigers. Then, on Monday, they saw these selfsame Rangers make deal after deal to bolster their 2016 club.

Arlington got Jonathan Lucroy, the long-ish term solution at catcher Houston had been linked to ever since former assistant GM David Stearns took a job in Milwaukee. They also got another potential Astros target and an old playoff friend in Carlos Beltran. At least those Beltran boos will follow him in Ranger red.

The Rangers got better in 2016. They lead their division and are getting back ace Yu Darvish from injury. At this year's deadline, they look like the best team in the American League.

There are plenty of reasons for Astros fans to feel better about this 1-2 punch of a weekend. Sure, Beltran made most of his hay this year at New Yankee Stadium. Sure, Lucroy's framing numbers have fallen further and further from the time when he was the framingest catcher in baseball. Sure, the Rangers BaseRuns total suggests a team that's mainlining luck dragon dust so hard their veins might explode.

That doesn't change where we sit right now.

The Rangers made aggressive trades to get better this year.

The Astros did not.

That stings almost every fan and, honestly, it's hard to argue against that logic. Very quickly, rationalizations sound like someone doing just that: rationalizing why their favorite team was still right, even if it looks like they hurt themselves through inaction.

The simple reason Houston didn't get better doesn't play. It's that the stats, the internal team projections for both how the Astros will perform for the rest of the season weren't affected enough by the potential acquisitions to give up trade assets of commensurate value.

That sentence almost put me to sleep while I typed it. Can you imagine how it'd play on Twitter?

The Astros trust their projections. Either those projections say that Alex Bregman or A.J. Reed or Yunieski Gurriel will carry the day this summer and that the Astros didn't need to add anyone, or they say the Astros wouldn't have made up ground on the Rangers even if they had gotten Lucroy, Beltran and the ghost of Randy Johnson's slider.

That, in itself, is a sobering thought. Could the Astros inaction be a sign they don't think this team has enough to get there? How will the clubhouse react to that?

Or maybe this team just doesn't need anything. The Astros look at life before Bregman and Gurriel, before the trade deadline and see a team that went 48-32 after April. That same team outscored opponents by 81 runs in that stretch. That same team gave up 3.71 runs per game since April and has scored more than a run per game above that.

Maybe all this team needed was to let its talented players shine, to give them a chance.

Maybe all it needed was to have Joe Musgrove Day.

Musgrove's story has been pretty incredible. He may be the best minor leaguer who came over in the Brandon Lyon trade. That's saying something, considering Carlos Perez has become a semi-regular at catcher for the Angels, David Rollins was a Rule 5 pick and Asher Wojciechowski started games in the big leagues.

Musgrove waited for his moment, scuffling through a forgettable season in 2013 after the trade. Since then? He's been nails. In three seasons, he's walked 28 batters. Total. He hasn't walked more than 10 batters in a season. Ever.

He's also consistently struck out about a batter per inning. And he's just 23 years old this season.

So I'll give you some time to wallow in your post-deadline doldrums. Lament that the Rangers got all the good players and the Astros sat on their Excel spreadsheets without doing a damn thing.

But, in a couple hours, shake all that off. Because it's Joe Musgrove Day. No one should be sad on Joe Musgrove Day.