7 things I don't know for a fact, but just know are true about Nick Caserio

Some important things to consider. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Plenty of fans and media have voiced their displeasure with the hiring of GM Nick Caserio, and their concerns are more than valid. But I wanted to look at this hiring from a different perspective, because my only real concern with this hire has more to do with former NFL team chaplain, Jack Easterby, still being in the building and possibly having input into personnel decisions. So I decided to put this list together and give a tip of the cap to one of my favorite HBO Real Time segments that gave me the idea for this article. So without further ado:

Here are 7 things I don't know for a fact, but just know are true about Nick Caserio.

1) He CLEARLY wanted the job. The Texans tried to hire Nick Caserio in 2019 but failed to do so because they handled the process in an incompetent manner, surprise surprise, which caused the Patriots to file tampering charges against Houston. Fast-forward to 2021 when Caserio interviews for the job in person, unlike several other candidates, when he could have done it over Zoom. If you really want a job, you show up in person for the interview. Especially when there were reports not that long ago stating the Texans might wait a year to hire a new GM and coach when COVID isn't an issue and interviews can take place in person. He read the room, the room being CEO Cal McNair, and got on a flight to Houston and landed the job. Also, he put language in his Patriots contract after the debacle with the Texans that would preclude a tampering issue from occurring again.

2) He won't be overpaying veteran players with big money. Overpaying guys, especially players with only a couple of good years left, is not how he's been taught to do business. Caserio does not seem like a guy that would have offered Whitney Mercilus the boat anchor contract he currently has that's killing the Texans' cap. Countless times we've seen the Patriots walk away from a player one year too early, instead of one year too late. Richard Seymour comes to mind when the Pats were able to get a first round pick for him late in his career and sent him on his way to the Raiders. Tom Brady will likely be another example. Sure Brady had a great season, but next year could be a different story. It will be interesting to see what he does with JJ Watt.

3) He's basically had the GM job in New England for several years. The Texans' other candidates can't say the same. Belichick may have had the final say on the big decisions, but he's the best coach in NFL history. The GM candidates the Texans have already interviewed were the number two or number three guys in their respective front offices.

4) Caserio can bring all three phases of the football building together. You want a guy that can bring together coaches, players, and the front office. This is something Lance Zierlein mentioned in one of our SportsMap videos this week. Caserio has worked in all phases of the organization. Yes, he's known for his experience in New England's front office, but he was also the wide receivers coach for the 2007 Patriots. Brady threw 50 TD passes that year. Caserio also played QB in college for John Carroll University, so he has some experience in all three phases.

5) He knows what he's getting into as far as lack of draft capital and cap space. Caserio's been considering this job for a year and a half, so he would be crazy not to keep an eye on what the Texans have been up to. And let's face it, the national media has been crushing the Texans' decisions for months, so you would have to be living under a rock to not know what's going on in Houston. Plus, whatever you think about Jack Easterby, Caserio has had the opportunity to talk to him and get some information that may not be widely known.

6) He's very familiar with how a great QB can elevate a roster without a ton of talent. This one is easy. The Pats haven't been that great for several years from a talent standpoint, but because of Tom Brady, they were contenders for a Super Bowl every year. This will be extremely important since all the Texans have is Deshaun Watson and a bunch of dudes for the most part.

7) He knows Jack Easterby better than any other GM candidate they interviewed. This one is also pretty simple, and Caserio could win the entire fan base over if he shocks the world and fires Easterby. Clearly, that may not happen. But if he can get Easterby to handle the tasks in Houston like he did in New England where he was actually an asset to the franchise, that would be huge.

At this point as Texans fans all we can do is give Caserio a chance and hope that he hires the right coach, and doesn't let Easterby cause problems in the building. The Patriots are good at managing the salary cap, and he will certainly need that experience since the Texans are currently more than $17 million over the cap for 2021. Sometimes a hiring looks like the wrong move at the moment but ends up working out for the best. Let's just hope this is one of those times.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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