Hey guys, it’s Ari Alexander with the Astros as they start the second half. I know I’ve been getting into a lot of trade deadline stuff lately...I’m going to try to hold off on that, but it’s really fun, so maybe don’t hold me to that.
The center field battle is over. There’s no good reason that McCormick isn’t playing at least 85% of innings in center field.
No offense to Jake Meyers, who is a phenomenal defender, but hasn’t been consistent enough with a bat to warrant playing time over McCormick.
Chas is 86th percentile in Outs Above Average via Statcast, while Meyers is 96th percentile. Basically, both are elite defenders but there’s a significant difference with the bat.
McCormick is hitting to a 119 OPS+, which is 3rd on the team among regular players behind Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker - both All-Stars. Meyers is 9th out of 11 qualified players, only ahead of Jose Abreu and Martin Maldonado at 87 OPS+.
JOSE ABREU IS BACK?
Speaking of Abreu, he’s been back to his usual self since June 1. Abreu is OPS’ing .805 in that span with a .485 slugging percentage. His career numbers are .846 and .496 in those stats. Of course, he’s a bit diminished with age, but for the past six weeks the Astros have essentially gotten expected output.
OK, I CAN’T HELP MYSELF WITH THE TRADE DEADLINE
I’m sorry, I love the trade deadline.
Here’s a few things I’m hearing around the league.
1. The Cardinals and Astros may not necessarily be a trade fit considering what the Astros have to trade (outfielders, catcher prospects) vs. what the Cardinals need (a lot of pitching). Jordan Montgomery’s potential qualifying offer also presents a chance the Cardinals hold on to him. I love Jordan Hicks in a Houston uniform, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s a reasonable trade path there. Jack Flaherty probably doesn’t really improve the Astros outside of depth, but burning prospects on a #5 starter to eat innings when the rookies have been fine doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
2. I’m hearing the Marlins like Korey Lee in some form, and if GM Kim Ng decides to get rid of outfielder Jorge Soler (a free agent after 2023), a framework with the Astros catcher would make some sense. Lee is currently battling an oblique injury but should be back soon.
3. Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians is on the IL with the deadly forearm strain. He is not a rental and is likely going to be too expensive for Houston.
4. Lucas Giolito is a fit for the Astros as a rental, but based on what they have in their system is likely out of their price range. However, Korey Lee to the White Sox makes sense because their upper level catching depth is horrendous.