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Astros: How Long?

Long time LarryTheGM members know that about twice a year I use music to reflect my feelings. Most of this music is from my formative years. Young people may not relate but trust me, the message is clear.


This is a CLASSIC from U2


This song was about a far more serious situation, but the angst, questioning, and sheer frustration is very real in the Astros fan base.


The core question in "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is How Long. How Long will we accept the situation we are in? Bono is talking about the societal tragedy in Northern Ireland. The message is far deeper and far more important than how I am applying it here. People were dying.


For the Astros fan base there is this same discontent though. That frustration is directed at team leaders that seem to be sabotaging the season with what appears to be an insane commitment to a mistake made in 2022 by the owner and his trusted advisors. Even people not involved in this decision- Dana Brown and Joe Espada- are blamed because they align and seemingly continue to implement the insanity.


Our question today for the Astros leadership and particularly their owner is the same one U2 asked about Northern Ireland- How Long. How Long will the Astros continue to roll out Jose Abreu to continue to fail and cost this team games? How Long must we sing this song?


Read the opening lyrics and hear the sheer angst U2 reflects at their situation.


I can't believe the news today

Oh, I can't close my eyes and make it go away

How long? How long must we sing this song?

How long? How long?


I have seen Astros fans write social media posts and say things that mirror those words.


Perhaps you think this is hyperbole. Maybe it is, but let’s start with some basic facts.


Team Records with/ without Abreu

Before Abreu went to Florida- 9-19

When Abreu was in Florida- 15-10

Since Abreu came back- 7-9


Only one of these looks like a team headed to the postseason.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?


You say it is unfair to blame the loses on Abreu and I would agree with you but consider this.



Team Records with/ without Abreu

Abreu Game Starts- 12-19

Abreu PH Games- 2-2

Non-Abreu Games- 17-17


An Astros team without Jose Abreu is 2 Games Behind in the Wild Card Race and in second place in the AL West.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?


But Larry isn't Abreu Better than he was?

Better is relative. Jose Abreu was one of the worst position players in the MLB before he went to Florida. Jose Abreu has been one of the worst 20-30 position players since returning from Florida.


There is no real good news for Abreu here. Even the best number on this chart - an xwOBA of 0.255- is TOO LOW to warrant playing time.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?


Remember these three periods of time.


There is a more disturbing aspect of the Abreu saga. The REST of the Astros position players will never say it, but I think the numbers show it. To be clear what I am about to say is pure conjecture. This is not something I prefer to do but I feel compelled to here and I think you will see why.


My theory is that the rest of the team is tired of Jose Abreu's failures too.


Refer to the Rest of the Astros table below for those same three sections of time.


  • Early, I believe his teammates believed that Abreu would figure it out.

  • Overall, the rest of the Astros besides Abreu hit 124 wRC+ until the day he left for Florida. Despite early slumps with Bregman, McCormick, and Singleton the others were on relative fire. This was muted by luck issues with PA with RISP.

  • While Abreu was gone, the Astros offense stayed in the top 3 in the MLB with a 117 wRC+.

Let's pause the story there for a minute.


How do you feel Astros players felt when social media rioted with news of Abreu's abrupt return?


I think the results over the past 16 games show this team is in a virtual teamwide slump. The peripheral and expected stats show that this slump IS NOT a luck issue. Since 5/27, the Astros offense is hitting 98 wRC+.


Look at the data by player.

Players in massive funks

  • McCormick- 22

  • Meyers- 33

  • Pena- 17

  • Singleton- 6

  • Tucker- 67

  • Dubon- 77

  • Caratini- 60


Four players are hot (Bregman, Cabbage, Diaz, and Alvarez). EVERYONE else is below career and season averages.


Why?


I think the rest of the team is just as tired of the Abreu experiment as you are Astros fan.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?


On Sports 790 Houston radio today, Joe Espada was reported to say this.


Here is the link to the interview.



I do not think this decision is Joe Espada's. I do not think this decision is Dana Brown's. This decision is Jim Crane's decision.


Espada says in this interview they need more production from first base.

They had production from first base when Abreu was out. They easily COULD have 105- 110 wRC+ production from First Base. That would be an improvement from 29th to 15th in First Base production.

This chart shows that Abreu has no role in the Astros plan for First Base production.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?


I think ultimately the answer is when Jim Crane sees that the Astros stubborn commitment to a bad decision is costing him more by lost fan interest and that his team is truly suffering, THEN he will move on from Jose Abreu no matter what the cost.


I think we are far closer to that day than we might believe.



I was asked on X: "Where do we go from here, Larry?"


My answer is:


Make hard decisions while there is still time to see if this team CAN be in a position to sneak into the postseason.


The longer the Astros wait, the more difficult it gets.


How Long must we sing this song Jim Crane?

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2 Comments


And today is the day! ABreu has been released!

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Nailed it. I have posted the accounting definition for sunk costs. Abreus money is exactly that. One of the key things is “that there is nothing that can be done to recover it”.

Crane mystifies me on this one.

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