MLB insider’s update on Astros GM raises more questions about Houston’s future

STONE COLD 'STROS

Houston Astros Jeff Bagwell, Jim Crane, Dana Brown, Kyle Tucker
Will someone have to pay for the Astros' failures this season? Composite Getty Image.

It's no secret to anyone that the most disappointing start to the season in MLB has to belong to the Houston Astros. They are currently seven games under .500, 10 games behind the division-leading Mariners, and 7.5 games behind the Royals in the Wild Card race.

There's no question the Astros are dealing with a plethora of injuries this season, with seven starting pitchers spending time on the injured list.

Outfielders Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick have also missed time with a bruised shin and hamstring strain, respectively.

But the club can't blame everything on health. Many of the players have underperformed this season, and the team's reluctance to move on from Jose Abreu with more urgency may have put them in a hole they won't be able to dig out of.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale wrote in a piece this week that Astros GM Dana Brown's job is “safe,” despite the team's struggles.

Brown reportedly has another two years on his contract after this season. He also wasn't here for the disastrous signings of Rafael Montero and Abreu, so he won't be blamed for those decisions.

His handling of Abreu this season certainly could have been better, many believed he waited too long to release the aging player. But once again, Brown may not have had the final say on when the Abreu experiment should have ended.

Many believe team consultant Jeff Bagwell and owner Jim Crane had to be the ones to okay Abreu's release.

But one thing is for sure, they way the organization handled the Abreu situation deserves all the criticism. If they really wanted to give Abreu a fair shot to turn things around, they should have sent him to Triple A for several weeks to try to regain his swing.

Instead, he returned after four weeks having played in only five games at the Astros Florida Complex, and two games with Triple A Sugar Land with little to no success.

So let's get this straight, they brought him back to face the Mariners, without proving he could hit minor league pitching? He struggled in the series on offense and defense, and Seattle took three of four. Which put the team even further back in the division.

And let's not forget, the Mariners have one of the best pitching rotations in baseball, and all their starters are right-handed.

Dana Brown faced the media alone after Abreu's release

Dana's comments about the Abreu saga didn't provide much clarity.

Brown talked about the Astros having a timeline for Abreu, but they didn't know what the timetable was?

Via The Athletic:

We ultimately had a timeline; we just didn't know when it was.

That's not at all confusing. So he basically said the at-bats weren't getting better, so they decided to make a change.Funny, we remember them telling us he looked much better, despite the results.

We get it. Sometimes teams have to say stuff publicly that they don't really believe. But Brown taking credit for being the driving force behind the decision to release Abreu isn't something we would bring up.

It's hard to imagine they could have handled the situation any worse.

Look at the positives

We are left with one possible silver lining. Maybe the Montero and Abreu contracts will keep former players like Bagwell from influencing personnel decisions.

And let's not forget, this mess was really created when Crane allegedly pushed former GM James Click out the door, thinking he knew better.

Add that to the list of things that aren't aging well for the Astros.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full conversation. You don't want to miss this!

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

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