Texans GM in the spotlight with the draft approaching

Brian Gaine: All eyes on you at the NFL Draft

Houstontexans.com

Texans GM Brian Gaine is a disciple of the Bill Parcells tree of coaching and football operations. He would rather speak softly, stay out of the public eye and make decisions as necessary without much fanfare or attention. He has done that for most of his career, as the right-hand man to several general managers like Rick Smith, doing the research and dirty work behind the scenes, crunching numbers and reviewing pertinent information. In 2017 he finally got his big break and took the job as Vice President of Player Personnel for the Bills as he was to spearhead the re-build of yet another mediocre roster in Buffalo. Even in his new role, with the big title, it seemed as if he was still waiting for the keys, even though from the outside it looked like he was driving the bus and making the moves for the front office. After a relatively quiet year on the job, Bob McNair and Bill O'Brien came calling, asking him to come back to Houston to replace the guy he once worked for in Smith. Just like that Gaine was headed back to the franchise he helped build for two years, only this time he was going to be front and center, pushing the buttons, pulling the strings and making the moves that hopefully take the Texans to the next level.

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In his first year at the helm, it was pretty uneventful as he was basically doing housekeeping and cleaning up the mess that was left behind by the previous regime. Thanks to a botched move that brought in Brock Osweiler, who was thought to be the quarterback of the future that the team had desperately been searching for, and then the subsequent trade to the Browns that included a top five second round pick as bait to take on the salary and remaining contract, the cupboard was not exactly full. Gaine took a flyer on some journeyman offensive lineman and made a few tweaks here and there while doing his best to salvage a draft that didn't have any high picks and little opportunity to select a franchise changing player, let alone a starter.

Justin Reid and J.J. Watt Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With that said he did find a diamond in the rough in thirdrd round selection Justin Reid, a first-round talent at safety that somehow slipped down the draft board and right into the Texans hands. Reid has been fantastic, starting 13 games last season and looks to only be getting better as he heads into his second year in the league. Aside from Reid, the new GM got what he paid for and paid the price for the bad moves of the past waiting for his turn to make his mark on the franchise and put his stamp on the personnel that fills out his roster for the upcoming season. That time has come and all eyes are on him starting Thursday night.

Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a relatively uneventful free agency period for Gaine and the Texans that saw more players leave than enter the facility on Kirby, the natives are getting restless in H-town and everyone is waiting for some positive and dare I say big-time additions to this team. As the fans watched career Texan Kareem Jackson walk out the door along with former first-round pick Kevin Johnson and veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu, the secondary became a primary concern.

Deshaun Watson Deshaun Watson takes his act to New York. Tim Warner/Getty Images

That would be a priority all by itself but the below average offensive line took a step back last season from the mediocre unit that was in charge of protecting franchise QB Deshaun Watson two years ago. Gaine tried cheap fixes with journeymen and underachievers and got exactly the results you would have expected. He has brought in another batch of recycled veterans to try and fill the many holes left in those two position groups as we all have patiently watched another off-season unfold with little excitement and a lot to be desired. The next big opportunity starts Thursday night with the first round of the NFL Draft. Gaine and his staff have a tall order to fill as they try and use a full compliment of picks to start to rebuild what was lost and add quality starters and depth to a squad that desperately needs them. Let's hope after the festivities in Nashville conclude and all the picks are in, we can start to see the plan in place taking shape and the improvements and additions on the way in the form of promising young talent poised to be valuable contributors sooner rather than later. With seven total picks including four in the top 90 overall, the time is now to make your mark and the appropriate moves, Mr. Gaine.

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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