It appears the Astros have their first dispute between manager and general manager.
Dana Brown is in his first year as the Astros general manager. He inherited a rather unique situation, stepping in as the GM for the reigning world champs, a rarity in sports. He also played no role in the roster moves Houston made this offseason.
Dusty Baker is in his fourth season calling the on-field shots in Houston. The players love him, but his lineup construction has drawn the ire of many over his time leading the Astros. Apparently his new GM is one of many that is perplexed by some of Baker's decisions.
In Chandler Rome's latest piece for the Athletic, Brown said this:
"“I like when he’s in the lineup. I like what he brings to the table. I like that he has power, his OPS is climbing. Ultimately, I’d like to see him in the lineup more...But Dusty is running the team, he’s the manager, and it’s his job ultimately to find a place for him to get in the lineup. I think he will do that...But, you know what, I’m not in Dusty’s shoes. I’m not writing the lineup. It’s his job and it’s his call. I think he played him enough that he got some good at-bats in, but once he started playing a little bit more, I think he’s cleaning up the approach a little bit and the OPS is on the rise.""- Dana Brown
Now couple that with what Dusty Baker said pregame yesterday when asked why Martín Maldonado was catching Hunter Brown instead of Yainer.
There is clearly a disconnect between manager and general manager. Dana Brown said before the season Diaz needed 300 at-bats this season and said again to Rome that losing development is an issue for a prospect. Diaz is currently on pace for 196.
Dusty has always been reluctant to play rookies when he has veterans available ahead of them, citing their service time, back of the baseball card, and pedigree. But he's been recently pairing Maldy with Hunter Brown with the rationale being, "what if Yainer got hurt and Maldy had never worked with him?"
Ok Dusty. If Maldy is the game caller you make him out to be, and there is no reason to believe Maldy isn't elite at what he does, it would be a rather quick adjustment. But what if Maldy gets hurt?
Yainer hasn't worked with Framber and he's barely worked with Javier. Those are your two best arms that you will ride in October. If Maldy goes down, then what happens? Yainer just goes in blind?
The Astros offense has been mediocre at best this year. They're currently 14th in team runs per game and 20th in team OPS. Yainer Diaz rakes.
His 4-5 night on Monday raised his average to .284 and OPS to .786. For a team that is desperate to score, his bat can't remain on the bench.
One man may not change everything, but after going 6-9 over the previous two days, maybe Yainer Diaz would have been able to do some damage to Kevin Gausman instead of letting Abreu and Maldy flail away again.
Maldy has never been an offensive power, though he has been better this year. And 61 games in, José Abreu is what he is. The .820 OPS/40 doubles a year guy isn't walking through the door. If Yainer isn't catching, he needs to be at first base. When Maldy gets a day off, Yainer needs to be behind the plate, and he needs experience catching the big horses in the rotation.
Corey Julks is the Astros 28th-best prospect in their system. He's hitting .266 with a below-average .694 OPS and 89 OPS+. According to Statcast, he is in the 2nd percentile in xwOBA. His contact quality is all bottom-third in the game or worse. Yet Julks has 158 at-bats on the season, more than double Yainer.
How is Dusty getting their 28th-best prospect twice as many at-bats as their best one? Julks has eight starts at DH to four for Yainer. That just can't happen.
Dana Brown wants more at-bats for Diaz, and he told Mark Berman this morning that they've had conversations about getting Yainer more time.
Brown is right. It may be Dusty's call who gets written into the lineup everyday, but it is inexcusable he hasn't called on Diaz more, especially with how bad the offense has been.
It's time to get Yainer Diaz in the lineup more often.