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You Can’t Buy Culture: Mets Sign Justin Verlander

Mets Sign Justin Verlander

METS SIGN JUSTIN VERLANDER – So, the Mets paid $86 million over two years for a fragile, 40-year-old pitcher who has won exactly one World Series game in his entire career. To be starker: he struggled through five innings to win that one last year, making him 1-6 in World Series play with a 5.63 ERA. 

Good luck. The Mets won’t make the World Series so that stat is irrelevant to them. 

Days before that, the sick-o Rangers owners paid broken-down injury prone Jacob DeGrom $185 million over five years to try and buy a title — or more likely — a few wins to stay ahead of Oakland in the AL West basement. 

My Message

As an Astros fan my message to Verlander is simple: enjoy your money, we’re out. You can catch us in next year’s World Series on your iPhone on the back nine. 

These teams that throw insane crazy cash at washed up players in search of legitimacy is laughable. Look at the Yankees or the Padres. They spend billions and don’t win. 

Why? Baseball is still a team game. 162 games over nine months is a lot of time to spend together. 

Like any successful and enduring business, you have to build a winning culture to be successful. 

The Astros, whatever you think of them, have done that. 

Most of their core players remain together. They don’t overpay free agents and they develop young players. Winning is expected. Teamwork is expected. Next man up is expected. 

Julio Lugo

Back in 2003, in the middle of a pennant race with the Cubs, Houston’s starting shortstop Julio Lugo was alleged to have been involved in a physical altercation with his female partner in the ballpark parking lot. 

The Astros cut him the next day. 

That’s what creating a culture is, right or wrong. The message is: we won’t tolerate certain behavior regardless of the situation. Period. Short-term pain, long term gain. Take a hike. 

The 2022 Trade Deadline

At the 2022 trade deadline, Astros former GM James Click had a trade worked out with the Cubs: Wilson Contreras for Jose Urquidy, straight up. Both manager Dusty Baker and owner Jim Crane rejected it. Why? First, they didn’t want to displace their culture-first catcher, Maldy despite his .150 batting average and second neither wanted to part with Urquidy, who throws strikes and has not reached anything near his full potential. 

Now, after dumping the forty-year starter, two things happen: Urquidy gets a shot as a mainstay in the 2023 rotation, and they have enough money to sign Contreras as a free agent and play him every day in left field and as a back-up catcher. 

The Top Brass

The Astros brass cares about the locker room and have been very cautious in doing anything to cause derision where they can avoid it. 

Which brings us to the recent signing of Chi-Sox veteran first baseman Bobby Abreu to a three-year deal. He is a professional hitter, a gold glove winner, and his work ethic and locker room stability are legendary. This is what building a winning organization is made of. 

Remember when money-bags Gerritt Cole took his Astros cap off and donned a Scott Boras cap minutes after Houston just lost a heartbreaking World-Series game 7 to Washington? I’ll never forget that. Has he been back to one recently? No. 

The Astros have more work to do: sign Contreras and Michael Brantley, giving them the most potent offense and depth to go with the majors best all-around pitching staff. 

Thanks for the memories, Justin. Golf is nice in October. That’s where you’ll be. 

Money doesn’t buy love. Or championships in baseball. 

Culture does. 

Read all of John’s Sports Writing at Godzilla Wins.

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  • John Fredericks, Publisher

    John Fredericks, the Godzilla of Truth, has spent more than 40 years in the media, previously working as a journalist, newspaper editor, and television host. Fredericks is an avid sports fan, journalist, and handicapper. He brings his unique voice and style, crafted by years of political commentary broadcast on the airwaves, to the world of sports. He cut his teeth on the radio announcing high school football, basketball and baseball games. His weekly column, You Can't Buy Culture, follows ebbs and flows of a diehard fan at the whims of his favorite teams.

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