What (and who) is really behind Houston Astros push for Jose Abreu's return

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What (and who) is really behind Houston Astros push for Jose Abreu's return
Jose Abreu is returning to the Astros. Composite Getty Image.

Houston Astros first baseman Jose Abreu has been working for a few weeks in Florida to make adjustments to his swing that will hopefully improve his performance when he returns to the big league club.

Initially, we were told there wasn't a timeline to monitor for Abreu's return. He would come back when the results justified his promotion back to the big leagues.

How quickly things can change in a few days. Astros GM Dana Brown and manager Joe Espada told the media this week that Abreu could be back as soon as this Friday.

Which is wild to think that he's already set to return. He's only played in a few games at the Florida Complex, with underwhelming results.

What's the rush here? Why not have him play 10–15 games for the club's Double A and Triple A teams before brining back? Any other player would have to show some results in the minors before being elevated back to the Astros. Chas McCormick has been working his way back from a hamstring injury in the minor leagues, why is Abreu being treated differently?

Even if he does play in a game or two this week before returning on Friday, it doesn't feel like enough reps to justify his return. But apparently a positive report from Jeff Bagwell has the Astros ready to bring him back.

Keep in mind, Abreu has only played in 3 minor league games to this point, going 1-4, 1-5, and 1-5. He does have two doubles, though, if we want to be positive.

Speaking of focusing on the positive, Jeremy Pena spent a lot of time on the backfields during spring training. And clearly that approached worked for him, as he has one of the best batting averages in baseball this season (.326).

One thing is for sure, if Abreu doesn't produce in a hurry, we don't expect him to stay with the club much longer. The team will have to eat the remaining money on his contract and move on.

Which makes us wonder, how long will the leash be? Espada has already said once he returns he's going to play regularly. So if he looks the same for the next several weeks, will that be it for Abreu?

That's why the timing of his return is curious. This doesn't feel like the best thing for Abreu or the Astros. You would think he and the team would have more confidence is his ability to bounce back after producing for a couple of weeks in the minors.

And if he didn't produce in the minors, you have your answer. The game has passed him by, and you know it's best to part ways.

At this point, all the club can do is hope Bagwell is right about the progress he's seeing, and Abreu is able to resurrect his career over the next week or two.

Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!

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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Who's really calling the shots? Composite Getty Image.

Who is actually determining how much Jose Abreu is playing right now? Is it Joe Espada or is someone telling him from the top of the organization to play Abreu and not take him out of clutch moments?

Also, could Espada be sending a message to the front office by giving them a good look at how bad he is, and how much he's hurting the team with regular playing time?

ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham makes that case in the video above, but his radio partner Joel Blank isn't quite buying it.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!

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