Here's how an easy Astros answer just fell into Dusty Baker's lap

The Houston Astros came away with a series win over the AL leading Baltimore Orioles this week despite some underwhelming production from Jose Abreu in games one and two.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, as Abreu has struggled for most of the season. What is concerning though is despite how bad he was in the first half, his batting average and slugging percentage are actually worse in the 23 games he's played since the All-Star break.

And even though Abreu has been hitting in the heart of the Astros order, he's gone nine straight games without an RBI.

Something to monitor

Abreu didn't play in the finale against the Orioles, and he's reportedly dealing with some back discomfort. Hopefully his poor performance is due to his back issue, as opposed to him falling off a cliff statistically at age 36. Injuries typically heal. Father Time is undefeated.

With the Astros calling up Jon Singleton, and Dusty Baker moving Abreu behind Chas McCormick in the lineup recently, perhaps Houston's manager is starting to realize the reality of the situation. Abreu is the 8th-worst hitter in baseball based on his OPS, and should no longer be hitting in front of Chas McCormick moving forward.

With Baker starting to come around to the reality of the situation, we could see Yainer Diaz and Singleton getting more opportunities at first base. At least, we hope so. It's one thing to play Martin Maldonado as much as he does. Playing both of these guys regularly is one of the reasons the offense has been in the middle of the pack for most of the season.

Big picture

If Abreu is unable to get things going this year, what will the Astros do? Our guess, they blame his struggles in 2023 on a down year and a change of scenery, showing their full confidence in him publicly. Privately, however, they can't just hope he'll turn things around. They'll have to add some low-key reinforcements to the squad that can take his place in 2024 should he continue to struggle at the plate.

The Astros will still owe him $39 million for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Which will be a tough pill for owner Jim Crane to swallow. But he wants to win. If Abreu is keeping the team down, we think he'll be on board with exploring some other options at first base.

Plus, Astros GM Dana Brown had nothing to do with this contract, so it's not on him if the Abreu experiment fails.

Editor's note: This video was shot before Abreu's back discomfort was reported.

Don't miss the video above as we discuss all these possible scenarios and much more!

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe to our new channel SportsMap Texans on YouTube.

And listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

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