TEXANS HIRE NEW HC

The Houston Texans have a new head coach

Lovie Smith is the Texans new head coach. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

According to multiple reports, the Houston Texans have hired Lovie Smith as their new head coach. The Texans have reportedly been leaning in this direction since Sunday evening, and now the move is official. Smith did a respectable job as defensive coordinator for Houston in 2021, especially considering the lack of talent on the roster.

Many believed that Josh McCown would be named the Texans next head coach, but the Texans apparently did a 180 and pivoted to Smith at some point over the last several days. Smith has been an NFL head coach for 11 seasons, nine in Chicago and two with Tampa Bay. He had a winning record in five of those seasons.

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The Astros are the toast of the town. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The signing of free agent first baseman Jose Abreu on Monday shows one more time that baseball is Jim Crane’s world and 29 other teams are supporting players on a reality show called Keeping Up with the Astros.

Crane, owner of the World Series champs, parted ways with general manager James Click earlier this month. So what does Crane do without a front office boss during this free agent season? He turns around and negotiates a deal on his own with former MVP and 3-time All-Star Abreu, one of the most coveted free agents who just happens to fill a hole in the Astros lineup.

Crane is now Jerry Jones, both team owner and general manager, with one big difference: Crane’s team has won titles this millennium.

What does the Abreu signing mean for the Astros’ chances of repeating as World Series champions in 2023? And what does it mean for arch rival Yankees?

One headline Tuesday put it this way:

“Yankees Season Over Before It Even Started.”

Abreu, who puts the “every” in everyday player (he played 157 games last year and hit .304), will take over for Yuli Gurriel at first base. Gurriel, who is a free agent, may be brought back by the Astros as a utility player.

If you’re looking for hardware, Ace is not the place – try the Astros batting order. Manager Dusty Baker will fill out a lineup card with Jose Altuve (MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, 3 batting titles), Jeremy Pena (ALCS MVP, World Series MVP, Gold Glove), Yordan Alvarez (Rookie of the Year, ALCS MVP, Silver Slugger), Alex Bregman (All-Star Game MVP, Silver Slugger), Kyle Tucker (Gold Glove), Jose Abreu (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger).

Don’t be surprised if Justin Verlander, the last piece of Crane’s announced puzzle, returns to the Astros next year, and two years after that. Verlander is chasing career goals like 300 wins. Where does he stand the best chance of getting there?

At the moment, the 2023 Astros batting order falls off the cliff 7-9 with Chas McCormick (.245 in 2022), Jake Meyers (.227) and Martin Maldonado (.186). But who’s to say that general manager/owner Crane is done dealing?

The Astros aren’t just successful on the field. They’ve won the hearts and minds of Houstonians. Astros baseball has become sort of a religion in recent years.

In 1966 John Lennon told a magazine writer that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Lennon caught hell for that remark and had to apologize. On a less ecumenical matter, the Astros might say they’re more popular than Thanksgiving and sorry not sorry.

Earlier this month, the Astros drew a million people to their downtown World Series celebration. Last week, they held the Thanksgiving Parade in Houston and many of the sidewalks looked like the upper deck at Texans games – maybe 20,000 people at the parade and I’m being generous.

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