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.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full conversation.

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Jose Abreu is no longer an Astro. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros released José Abreu on Friday, cutting ties with the former AL MVP less than halfway through a three-year, $58.5 million contract.

The 37-year-old Abreu was batting .124 (14 for 113) with two homers and seven RBIs this season, during which he spent time in the minors trying to fix his swing. The Astros still owe him $30.8 million from the deal he signed before last season.

A three-time All-Star during his nine years with the Chicago White Sox, Abreu was named MVP during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2014 after defecting from his native Cuba the previous year.

His production dropped off significantly with the Astros. He batted .237 last year, the lowest average of his career, with 18 homers and 90 RBIs.

Abreu is a career .283 hitter with 263 homers and 960 RBIs in 11 seasons.

Houston owes him $30,822,504, including $11,322,504 remaining from this year’s salary and $19.5 million for 2025. Any team can sign him for a prorated share of the $740,000 major league minimum, with the Astros responsible for the rest.

Be sure to watch the video above as Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan of Stone Cold 'Stros react to the news.

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