How future for Houston Astros rookie catcher could look a lot different

How future for Houston Astros rookie catcher could look a lot different
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Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker caught a lot of people by surprise this week when he defended his decision to hold back Yainer Diaz's playing time, despite him being one of the best hitters on the team.

Baker basically said everyone would eventually thank him for how he's easing him into the Astros everyday lineup. One of the reasons he gave for how he's handling Diaz was him being a rookie, and you can't just insert a first-year player on a full-time basis and expect things to go well. He even used a football analogy to make his case.

Funny, they started rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena from jump street last year, and he found himself leading his team to a championship title and was MVP of the ALCS and the World Series.

No wonder Astros fans are pulling their hair out.

But one thing is for sure, Houston needs what Yainer brings to the table. His power bat is far too important to be out of the lineup in the middle of a close division race.

The compromise should be simple, keep using Diaz at first base on a part-time basis, and play him at catcher and DH when Jose Abreu is starting at first.

We mentioned that Dusty said we'll eventually thank him for his patience with Diaz. But will owner Jim Crane thank him for running his 36-year-old first baseman (with back problems) into the ground? With 2 years left on his bloated contract, he shouldn't be playing every day.

Finally, is Yainer Diaz really the catcher of the future?

If Jose Abreu can turn things around and be an average option at first base for the next couple of years, sure. But what if we're a third of the way through next season, and he's still one of the 10 worst hitters in baseball? You can't let a bad contract beat you twice.

If that's the case, the best plan of action could be to make Yainer the everyday starter at first, and let whoever the backup catcher is in 2024 step into a starter's role. They're going to have to sign a catcher anyway, with Martin Maldonado a declining free agent that will turn 38 next season.

Clearly, the Astros don't have a quality first basemen in the farm system, or he would have been on the team while Abreu was hurt. Unfortunately, Jon Singleton just doesn't look like a big league hitter.

By inserting Diaz at first base, you could save his legs and get more out of him over the course of his career. The Astros did something similar with Craig Biggio, and that seemed to work out just fine.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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