Money over merit: Exploring Jose Abreu's true cost for the Houston Astros

Astros Jim Crane, Jose Abreu, Jeff Bagwell
This is a bad look. Composite Getty Image.

Since rejoining the Astros this week, Jose Abreu has gone 1-6 at the plate, boosting his batting average from an abysmal .099 to a horrid .105 while making a mess of playing first base. This was after going 0-7 at Triple A Sugar Land last week.

And the Astros have dropped both games in Seattle against the division-leading Mariners since Abreu’s been back.

You’ll notice that the Astros recalled Abreu while on the road – you think to avoid the embarrassment of fans boo’ing him at Minute Maid Park? Of course the Astros are aware of their fans' smoldering disgust with Abreu.

It’d be unfair to jeer Abreu, actually. He’s trying. He just can’t do it anymore. He’s washed. What do fans expect, Abreu to retire from baseball and tell the Astros they don’t have to pay the $30+ million still on his contract? Ain’t gonna happen. Contracts are guaranteed in baseball and even if Abreu would be OK with ripping up the deal, the players union would refuse to let the Astros off the hook for the money.

If you want to blame somebody for the Abreu disaster, point a finger at Astros owner Jim Crane for OK’ing the deal to sign him, point another finger at Crane-whisperer Jeff Bagwell for brokering the deal, and a pinky at general manager Dana Brown for supporting the idea of bringing Abreu back to the big leagues.

At least Brown appears to be an Abreu backer. Although he should think twice before making ridiculous comments about Abreu. Explaining why he thought Abreu was ready to face Major League pitching despite going 0-7 including three strikeouts and hitting into a double play, Brown said, with a straight face, “It’s not really about the hits. We want to make sure he’s getting quality at bats.”

Three strikeouts in seven at bats? Grounding into a double play? Quality at bats?

This is how they play baseball in the Bizarro World. It’s not really about hits? How about the final score of games? Do those matter? Because the Astros have lost both games since Abreu rejoined the team.

This is the same Dana Brown who said the Astros were sending Joey Loperfido back to the minors because he strikes out too much. Checking the back of Loperfido’s baseball card (Brown’s favorite hobby), the rookie batted .333 with 13 hits in 39 at bats during his stay with the Astros. Abreu has eight hits in 77 at bats.

Wait I forgot, it’s not really about the hits.

So what is really about? It’s the money. The Astros signed Abreu to a $58.5 million contract before last season. The contract has all this season plus next season on the books.

Playing someone just because you’re paying him stupid money is an idiotic reason. Jose Abreu was awful last season, and this year he’s taking awful to new lows. He is hurting the team. Everybody can see it. Well, almost everybody.

Fans sure see it. If they can’t boo Abreu at Minute Maid Park this week, they can unload on X (formerly Twitter). Here are some of the kinder comments.

“Please just end the Jose Abreu experiment.”

“You have to get Jose Abreu off this team.”

“This team deserves every loss it gets as long as it continues to play Jose Abreu at first base.”

“He is straight up cancer to the team.”

So what is the solution? The team said it struggled deciding what to do to make room for Abreu rejoining the team. They decided on sending Loperfido back to the minors.

The right answer what to do about Abreu – then and now - is staring them in the face and they refuse to accept it.

Suck it up and pay Abreu to stay away.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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