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Astros Crawfish Boil: November 8, 2022

News inside and out, and a look at Jake Odorizzi’s final starts in Houston.

MLB: Houston Astros-Championship Parade Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros enjoyed a victory lap through Houston on Monday.

With all the games now in the books, is it already too early to start thinking about next year? I don’t think so, and if you’re reading this, neither do you.

Yesterday, I posted a poll asking what Houston’s biggest need was. The number one answer, with 41 percent of the vote, was more “outfield depth.” There was significant discussion in the thread regarding how exactly to do that. After all, is Yordan Alvarez a viable “forever” left fielder? Does he really like playing in the field, or is he better suited to a permanent DH role? He started 77 of his 135 games at designated hitter, and only 56 in left. Would the Astros be better off with a permanent fielder at the position?

Left field has long been the preferred spot for a team’s least defensively gifted outfielder, but I’m wondering why exactly. As most hitters bat righty, more balls will generally find their way into left field. Right-fielders generally get more opportunity to throw out runners going from first to third. So a manager should put the better arm in right, and the better fielder in left. Is Alvarez perhaps better suited to right field?

Of course, I’m not going to ignore the fact that Kyle Tucker won the Gold Glove for right field this season, but his skillset would be equally valuable at either corner outfield spot (or in center if needed, I’m pretty sure).

All that is likely moot, however. If Justin Verlander walks, as is assumed by most of those with conventional wisdom, the Astros will have a decent pile of cash to chase a good free agent with. Josh Bell seems like a viable bid. He’s valued by FanGraphs at $9 million, which seems kind of low to me. Is Aaron Judge, who is probably in the neighborhood of $42 million per year an option? On top of that, is Michael Brantley in the mix for another year or two? So many questions!

Astros News

Ted Cruz was booed and targeted by a beer can at the parade. Nearly two million people showed up! They weren’t all there to boo Ted.

Things got loud for Jeremy Peña yesterday. Houston loves this kid, for his on-field performance and for his off-field demeanor.

The Astros will soon begin negotiations with Dusty Baker for at least another season. As much as I saw frequent discontent regarding Baker’s in-game decisions in our GameThreads, Baker was the perfect candidate to continue getting every last drop out of these guys. I believe he remains so.

Texans coach Lovie Smith congratulated Baker on his victory.

The Ringer toasts the Astros in a pretty comprehensive article. It contained a reference to a formerly viral tweet, which I missed when it happened. I think it’s still worth embedding here.

The Astros celebrated with $388,000 worth of 50 Cent’s champagne. That’s 250 bottles. If it was actual $0.50 champagne, it’d be more like 776,000 bottles.

CBS Sports put out a new power ranking. Guess who’s on top?

MLB News

The MLB is going the way of the draft lottery. Like every other league.

Here’s MLB’s seven biggest probable opt-outs. JV’s one of them.

A primer on how the Qualifying Offer works. It’s set at $19,650,000 this year.

The Minnesota Twins exercised their option on Sonny Gray and declined Miguel Sano, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer.

Andrew Chafin opted out with the Detroit Tigers.

Oops! All Astros: Jake Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi is a six-foot-two, right-handed starting pitcher from Breese, IL. Born on March 27, 1990, he was a first round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, with the 32nd overall selection. You’ll remember that Korey Lee was also a part of that fraternity, one that is led by Aaron Judge’s 36.9 WAR.

Odorizzi was taken out of Highland HS in Highland, IL, and signed with the Brewers to a deal that included a $1.06 million signing bonus. After the 2010 season, prior to making an appearance at the major league level, he was traded with Jeremy Jeffress, Alcides Escobar, & Lorenzo Cain to the Kansas City Royals for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt. He later also appeared with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Twins.

Prior to making his way to the Houston Astros, Odorizzi compiled a 62-56 lifetime record with a 3.92 ERA, starting in 192 of his 195 major league appearances. He had an 8.6 K/9, a 1.240 WHIP, and an opposing slashline of .237/.303/.408 over 1042 13 frames. He signed with Houston through free agency prior to the 2021 season to a three-year, $23.5 million deal. The 2021 campaign would see Odorizzi go 6-7 with a 4.21 ERA for the Astros with 91 whiffs in 104 23 innings. He racked up a 1.252 WHIP and kept opponents to a .243/.307/.429 slash line, mostly in step with his career figures. He started the 2022 season in Houston’s soon-to-be even more formidable rotation.

Hard to believe now, but Odorizzi started 2022 as Houston’s number two starter. After starting the season going 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA over his first seven starts, he fell trying to cover first base and went on the injured list on May 17. In his second start after returning, on July 10, he struck out seven over as many shutout innings, earning a win in a 6-1 victory against the Oakland Athletics. On July 31, he whiffed eight in seven innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks in a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

In a total of 60 innings for the 2022 Astros, Odorizzi struck out 46 and put down a 1.150 WHIP and a 3.75 ERA. His WHIP ranked 10th of the 18 Astros pitchers to have posted a sub-MLB average WHIP, a group that pitched 98.1 percent of Houston’s innings through the regular season. Frankly, it still shocks me that this pitching staff was so deep that it could easily afford to lose Odo’s quality arm.

Two days after Houston's win over Seattle, at the trading deadline, the Astros sent Odorizzi to the Atlanta Braves for left-handed reliever Will Smith. Odorizzi went 2-3 for the Braves with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.554 WHIP. Fangraphs says that he produced $18.9 million value through the first two years of his deal. His projected WAR of 1.0 is projected to be worth $7 million, showing he’s likely to end the deal by outperforming it. Now entering the final season of it, it’s likely he exercises his player option and stays with the Braves, at least for now.