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How Easterby's influence has ruined Texans' hiring process and the organization

Texans Jack Easterby, Nick Caserio, Deshaun Watson
Jack Easterby has destroyed the Texans. Composite image by Jack Brame

Deshaun Watson is highly upset. Hardcore fans are hitting eject on their teams' hopes. Other teams and fanbases are laughing loudly at what a mess this organization has become. Coaching candidates aren't even interested in coming here to the point of refusing to interview! This team reminds me of the GIF of the dumpster on fire floating down a flooded street. There are a few people who can be blamed for this, but one in particular.

Jack Easterby is the Geppetto to Cal McNair's Pinocchio. This is why there's such a cluster-bleep on Kirby. Easterby has influenced every major decision this organization has made since he was hired. Yet, he's been able to keep his job despite the firings of others. His influence on the McNairs, Cal in particular, has been the undoing of this franchise. He's clearly the source of the black cloud over this franchise, but why is he still allowed to do so?

Easterby has a Pied Piper effect on the brass on Kirby. When you hire a search firm and pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars to help you find your next general manager, only to seemingly ignore them, what other explanation is there? When your franchise quarterback comes out and says he's not happy because it seems as if you promised him something you failed to deliver on, there can only be one explanation and one person at the root of it. When qualified candidates for jobs you have an opening for don't want to interview, there's something that doesn't pass the smell test.

Most organizations that find themselves taken over and ruined by a Bill O'Brien find their way out of such a hellhole, at least to a certain extent. They'll go in a different direction philosophically in an attempt to right the ship. The Texans have seemingly decided to remain on course for disaster by doubling down on stupidity and mediocrity. All the Bob LaMonte client buddy system talk has taken on a new meaning. There are too many dots that connect and too many strings attached that point to this as a viable answer to what's going on. If Brian Daboll is the next head coach here, no one should be surprised as he's another branch on the LaMonte tree which is a part of Easterby's web of chaos ladder to the top of an NFL franchise.

Although the Watson trade rumors may be a tough pill to swallow for most fans/supporters of the team, it may be a blessing in disguise. What if they're able to flip Watson into a package of draft picks that can help reset this franchise's fortunes? What if Nick Caserio is able to turn this around despite Easterby's interference? The head coach hire and what becomes of Watson will speak volumes. I can't help but keep Easterby in mind when thinking of what becomes of this team in the near future because of what he's done so far in the present. I'm ready for a change in this organization. If it takes sacrificing one of the best players that's ever played for them to spur a change, so be it. So long as the one pulling the trigger knows what they're doing, I'd be okay with it. Faith is believing in the unseen/unknown. It's a strong feeling. Only those who are in complete belief can have faith. Ask yourselves: do you as a fan/supporter of the Texans have faith that they'll do what's necessary to bring a true contender to this organization?

Editor's note: Texans legend Andre Johnson seems to agree with this assessment. Check out the tweet he posted on Tuesday.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I 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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