How secrecy around Houston Astros leadership just reached a frustrating peak

BE VERY QUIET

How secrecy around Houston Astros leadership just reached a frustrating peak
Everything is coming into focus. Composite Getty Image.

The 2024 season certainly hasn't begun like the Astros would have hoped, and the club is currently 8.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners in the AL West.

And while the play on the field certainly hasn't been up to par, what's going on behind the scenes is what has Astros fans the most curious.

How does the Astros power structure really work? Is GM Dana Brown really the one calling the shots? Based on what we've seen since Brown was hired, the answer is clearly no.

For what we can tell, Brown's main focus is replenishing the club's farm system. And that's a role he's highly qualified for, but his title calls for a lot more than that. He should be the main voice in the room, not just one of the many voices in the room.

The Athletic's Keith Law recently gave an interview on ESPN Houston, and said the common consensus across the league is Jim Crane is running things, and he's one of the most active owners in baseball.

Which goes along with the narrative most believe in Houston, Jeff Bagwell has Crane's ear, and that's how decisions are being made.

This goes back to when former GM James Click was allegedly pushed out the door because he didn't see eye-to eye with Dusty Baker. And that was after winning a World Series. That's when the Jim Crane-Jerry Jones comparisons starting gaining momentum.

And now it's fair to wonder if Baker was taking orders from above, and now Joe Espada is in the same predicament. Which would explain the nightmare at first base with Jose Abreu playing almost every game.

Why the secrecy?

The Astros have a strange policy with injuries. Just recently, Houston refused to acknowledge that Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy were set to have elbow surgery and would be out for the season. Even after reports to the contrary surfaced.

And yet, there was an article on the Astros.com website reporting that exact same news about Javier and Urquidy being done for the year. The Astros would then confirm the surgeries not long after.

Yet, when Kyle Tucker fouled a ball off his shin, we found out that night that the X-rays were negative. And there are plenty more examples of this, we just don't have the time to document them all here.

There just doesn't seem to be any consistency, and when the team is losing, it's not hard to irritate the fanbase.

Don't miss the video above as we examine the Astros power structure, try to make sense of their curious stance on reporting injuries, and much more.

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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Astros beat the Mariners 4-2. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a go-ahead two-run homer off former Houston reliever Ryne Stanek in the seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time this year.

Stuck playing catchup through the first 3½ months of the season, Houston has won six of eight to climb into first place all alone.

Seattle lost its fifth straight and fell out of first place for the first time since May 11.

Meyers drove a 1-2 pitch from Stanek (6-3) to right-center field for his 11th homer. Stanek opened the inning by walking Jeremy Peña, and the homer by Meyers cost George Kirby the chance at a victory after he allowed one run in six innings.

Yainer Diaz added a solo homer in the eighth off reliever Trent Thornton that bounced off the top of the wall.

Julio Rodríguez snapped Seattle’s 14-inning scoreless drought when his two-run homer off Framber Valdez gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 11th of the season and Rodríguez nearly hit a second longball in the eighth off Ryan Pressly only to watch Trey Cabbage make a leaping catch at the wall in right field.

It was one of two terrific defensive plays by the Astros in the eighth as Joey Loperfido ended the inning with a diving grab of Mitch Garver’s drive into the left-field corner and saved one run from scoring.

Valdez pitched 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three hits, four walks and struck out six. Tayler Scott (7-3) got the final out of the sixth before Bryan Abreu, Pressly and Josh Hader closed out the final three innings. Hader earned his 20th save.

Kirby allowed four hits and struck out six. Houston’s only run off him came on Peña’s infield single that scored Alex Bregman in the fourth.

UNUSUAL STRIKEOUT

Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the first inning when he was called for a pitch-clock violation for not being ready in the box prior to a 3-2 delivery from Kirby.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHPs Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) and Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) threw bullpens. Verlander threw about 40 pitches with increased intensity, while Garcia threw 15 pitches. Both are expected to throw again sometime early next week. … C Victor Caratini (hip) was expected to catch for a second straight day at Double-A Corpus Christi.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Ronel Blanco (9-4, 2.56 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but lost to Texas in his last outing before the All-Star break.

Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (3-1, 2.45) will make just his second start since June 24. Woo allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings on July 12.

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