Astros fans won't like Joe Espada's explanation for Joey Loperfido's demotion

Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros
Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

The Houston Astros had themselves a busy holiday weekend to say the least. In addition to being forced to place Cristian Javier on the IL, they also brought Jose Abreu back from the minor leagues in the hopes that he could actually turn back into the player he once was.

Unfortunately, this came at the expense of top prospect Joey Loperfido, who was optioned back to the minors.

Through his first 43 plate appearances in the majors, Loperfido had slashed .333/.381/.436. Despite finding plenty of success early on, Loperfido had to battle for playing time, and his opportunities started to basically disappear the moment Houston activated Chas McCormick from the injured list. If the Astros weren't going to play him in the big leagues, then sending him back to the minors is certainly preferable to letting him rot on the bench.

However, when manager Joe Espada was asked about Loperfido's demotion and lack of playing time, his answer left a lot to be desired as he was clearly not swayed by Loperfido's early success and instead gave the Astros veterans' previous track records a lot more weight.

Joey Loperfido's success with Astros was basically ignored in favor of veteran experience

In Espada's explanation of how he was divvying up playing time, he talked about Mauricio Dubon playing well (which is absolutely true) and wanting to try to get McCormick and other veterans going depending one who the Astros were matched up against. In a lot of ways, the logical inference is that no matter what Loperfido did, he was always going to be the odd man out as Espada and the Astros were always going to go back to giving guys like Dubon, McCormick, Abreu, and Singleton the plate appearances that could naturally go to Loperfido.

That obviously doesn't feel great. Outside of Dubon, who has been legitimately awesome, Houston's other veterans have just not played well in 2024. Even if you buy into the idea that the Astros sort of have to at least try Abreu again given how much money he is owed, McCormick's track record in the majors at the plate is pretty iffy, and Singleton has even less of a case.

Right now, fans just have to hope that one of two things happens. If Abreu and/or McCormick go wild now that they are back in the big leagues, then there is no harm, and Loperfido can get some more experience at first base and at the plate in the minors while being the next man up if needed. If these guys struggle, then fans just have to hope that Houston is going to be willing to abandon ship quickly and get Loperfido's bat back up to the majors on a more permanent basis.

Both of those outcomes are fine. What won't be acceptable is if the Astros leave wins on the table after bumbling the first third of the season because of their stubborn adherence to giving vets playing time and trying to extract some sort value out of Abreu when they have the guy that should have been playing all along sitting at Triple-A.

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