John McClain: Big Papi bullish on Framber Valdez and Jeremy Peña, thinks Astros can repeat

Jul 24, 2022; Cooperstown, New York, USA; Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz gives his acceptance speech during the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Clark Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: Big Papi bullish on Framber Valdez and Jeremy Peña, thinks Astros can repeat

David Ortiz – Big Papi – was in Houston on Sunday and talked about the Astros’ pitching staff in general and Framber Valdez in particular.

“To be honest with you, if I owned the Astros, I’d give the guy a 10-year deal right now,” Ortiz said at the TriStar Collectors Show at NRG Arena. “He loves the game. He loves pitching. He wants to be good. I tell you, I’d give him a 10-year deal right now.”

Ortiz has become a mentor to Valdez, who fashioned a 17-6 record and a 2.82 earned run average during the season and a 3-0 record and a 1.44 ERA in the playoffs.

“The other day he called me about something else – back home in the Dominican (Republic), and we started talking about the things he wants to do and how he’s getting prepared for the season,” Ortiz said. “That’s what I like to hear from players. From the conversation we had, he can’t wait for the season to begin, and the guy just won the World Series. But he’s hungry. He wants more and more and more.”

Ortiz, a special advisor for the Red Sox who moonlights as an analyst for Fox, watched the Astros blow through the playoffs by sweeping the Mariners and Yankees and defeating the Phillies in six games to win the World Series – their second title in six years.

The Astros have reached the World Series four times, winning two, over the last six years. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15. The Astros are trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Yankees won their third in a row in 2000.

“This team has turned out to be a dynasty, and I would not be surprised (repeat),” Ortiz said. “I hope not because I’m a Red Sox fan, but they’ve got a pretty good chance. Once you win, you get all that attention. The next season, the opposition pays more attention to you than to anybody else. I think that’s why it’s so hard to repeat.

“The only difference is (Justin) Verlander going to (Mets). They still have a good, young pitching staff. I’m pretty sure a lot of them learned some good things from Verlander. He’s a leader, a guy who’s basically done everything in baseball. First ballot Hall of Fame without a doubt. But life continues, and people move on. They have a lot of young studs in that rotation and in the bullpen.”

Ortiz also is a fan of second-year shortstop Jeremy Peña, who was voted the MVP award in the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

“Outstanding — I love that kid,” Ortiz said. “Personality, what he brings to the game, he’s very mature. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s the one guy you want playing shortstop on your ballclub no matter what team it is.”

Looking at the Astros’ lineup, the starting pitching, and the bullpen going into spring training, Ortiz said, “The Astros are in pretty good shape, I can tell you that.”

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

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