Time For A Conversation, insider reveled Astros GM should leave

It’s Time To Talk
One cannot continue to deny the reality of a lost season for very long.

These Astros will probably have a difficult summer and miss the postseason for the first time since 2016 unless they have a dramatic comeback. Granted, this roster has the potential to contend; that being said, since 1901, only three teams have successfully emerged from a comparable situation; the most recent of these three occasions happened during a strike-shortened season in 1981.

For as much as Dana Brown has expressed confidence in this roster — as he should, at least publicly — the reality of the situation is becoming increasingly dire. Thus far, the pitching staff has felt the ramifications of multiple starters on the IL and a surprisingly inefficient bullpen. Hunter Brown and J.P. France have regressed in the worst way. Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander, and Cristian Javier missed multiple starts due to injuries. That formidable backend of a bullpen has been everything but that. The lineup can’t seem to muster much power or success with runners in scoring position. José Abreu was optioned to the minors to work on his swing, with Brown at first insisting bat speed wasn’t an issue, but, wait, it was. Alex Bregman’s struggles have been jarring, even accounting for the possibility of a slow start. When Jake Meyers, Jon Singleton, and Mauricio Dubón are sporting a higher wRC+ than Yordan Alvarez (112), well, you get the point.

A lot, and I cannot emphasize that enough, has gone wrong for the Astros to have a 12-24 record. This situation isn’t a one-point failure. Between personnel changes, regression, slumps, injuries, and inadequate planning, there isn’t a lack of blame to assign to something. I do think the constant upheaval within the organization has finally materialized to some extent on the field. But we can review all of the causes ad nauseam in the coming weeks. But what to do about the current situation? Is there a way to recover?

The best thing that could happen to the Astros is if the pitching staff starts to rebound. With Javier scheduled to be activated off the IL in time for the weekend series against the Tigers, the rotation figures to improve. While the results haven’t all been great, a rotation featuring Valdez, Verlander, Javier, and Ronel Blanco as the top four options at the same time is an upgrade. Brown will likely remain as the fifth starter and Spencer Arrighetti could get some run as the sixth starter in this upcoming stretch of 29 games in 30 days. Of course, any improvement is muted if Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader don’t also make strides. After all, the pitching staff is dead last in fWAR (0.1 wins) on the season, so it isn’t like it can’t get much worse, but who knows?

Any improvement by the lineup, especially with runners in scoring position, would also be welcomed. Alvarez and Bregman, in particular, will need to start hitting closer to their historical averages for this group to truly rebound. Altuve, for as great as he usually is, has also struggled with RISP, posting a 70 wRC+ in such situations. Power has been a problem with runners on base with a .136 ISO. With bases empty, that ISO increases to .164, more in line with the better teams in baseball. Converting with runners on base is a key point moving forward for this lineup.

From an organizational direction, the next month or two will be telling. Espada’s seat as manager will continue to warm, especially if there isn’t a turnaround to some extent. I wonder if we will see a change in the hitting (Alex Cintron and Troy Snitker) and pitching coaches (Joshua Miller and Bill Murphy) if the club’s fortunes don’t turn around relatively soon. And by relatively soon, I mean within the next couple of weeks. I sense a change there would occur before Espada is dismissed or anything of the sort, at least from the outside looking in. Regardless, I don’t think this coaching staff has too much slack to work with before changes are implemented.

In terms of the roster, at this rate, it would behoove the club to at least gauge the market on several players. Bregman is an obvious candidate to be traded if the wins don’t start coming in bunches. Verlander’s option situation and no-trade clause complicate matters, but you can’t entirely rule out that possibility until told otherwise. Ryan Pressly is a reliever to monitor. If the organization wants to prioritize any return, then Kyle Tucker’s market would be the most robust. With that said, I don’t expect the Astros to go there at this point, especially if this front office believes contention in 2025 remains plausible. Bryan Abreu would also draw immediate trade attention, especially as a controllable arm through 2026. Perhaps someone would trade for Chas McCormick or Jake Meyers, even if the primary goal would be to open playing time for Joey Loperfido, Pedro León, and, eventually, Jacob Melton

The most pressing question at present is how this club views itself moving forward. If Crane, Brown, Bagwell, and the front office consider themselves contenders, then I’m not sure if we’ll have much movement other than possibly a coaching staff shake-up. Espada could be dismissed as well. Perhaps a trade acquisition to address a hole on the roster? Of course, this is contingent on winning enough games to justify a trade bringing in another player or two. There is also how the front office pivots if this season is considered lost and makes another attempt at contention in 2025 with a few changes on the roster. Payroll certainly remains a strong influence, especially if Crane’s appetite for exceeding thresholds lessens.

With that said, I do have concerns about how the Astros are evaluated internally, especially with how the pitching depth situation wasn’t truly addressed in back-to-back offseasons. Yes, there could’ve been a pitching crunch once everyone returns, at least in theory. But that also discounts the possibility that another injury or two could arise, in addition to the fact that a team still has to win games in the meantime to make the plan work, which usually requires decent pitchers

When it comes to throwing, I always err on the side of caution, so I’d rather have too much than too little. Additionally, Verlander is 41 years old, Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis García won’t return until later in the summer, and several pitchers exceeded their prior career highs in innings pitched in the previous season. It’s unclear why Houston didn’t change course earlier in the offseason when several pitchers were still available, but they had the right idea when they went after Blake Snell a few months ago, even considering the possibility of paying over the second tax level to accomplish it. In any event, I’m curious as to whether this club misjudged its depth and ability

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