Is Dana Brown missing a prime opportunity to improve Astros roster?

Make the call, Dana!
Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown on the field
Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown on the field / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros need a spark, but general manager Dana Brown seems unwilling to pull the trigger. Houston is currently dead last in the American League West standings. Yes, even behind the Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Angels.

The Astros went winless in their opening week series against the New York Yankees, and while they rallied over the weekend to snag two of three games from the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, the 'Stros need a boost.

If Houston is looking for a spark, there's a slugger down on the farm who's been blistering balls for Triple-A Sugar Land. Joey Loperfido, who was in the mix to be part of the Astros Opening Day roster, continues to punish baseballs with a .333/.429/.825 slash line for the Space Cowboys. Common sense would seem to suggest that Loperfido deserves his shot in the big leagues, but Brown isn't ready to make that call.

Astros GM Dana Brown not ready to call up Joey Loperfido

According to Chandler Rome of The Athletic, Brown recently appeared on a radio show and said that Loperfido needed to cut down on his strikeouts before the Astros GM would be comfortable calling him up to the major leagues.

That's a fair critique, and has been a concern for Loperfido for some time. The 24-year-old has gone down on strikes 24 times this season. However, he's also knocked in 24 runs. Loperfido has 10 round trippers and 24 RBI in just 14 games at Triple-A this season.

But Brown went even deeper in his evaluation of Loperfido when the Astros GM said, "He'll be a nice utility piece for us." And there it is. That's the biggest reason why Brown is hesitant to call up Loperfido. Because once the Houston faithful see what Loperfido can do in The Show, the fanbase will begin to clamor for Astros manager Joe Espada to do the right thing and bench Jose Abreu. Brown's obviously not ready to go there just yet.

Abreu is 6-for-45 to begin the season and is hitting .111/.180/.133 with just one extra-base hit and 14 strikeouts. The Astros saw Abreu struggle last season (.237/.296/.383), and the hope was that his 2023 performance was an anomaly. Through the first three weeks of the 2024 season, it would seem that what you see is what you get.

The Astros paid a steep price to land Abreu after signing him to a three-year, $58.5 million deal during the 2022-23 offseason. Abreu's downturn is not what the Astros front office, nor the fanbase, expected from the former AL MVP. But if Houston hopes to get back in the AL West race, some tough decisions are going to have to be made. That starts with sitting Abreu and calling up Loperfido.

As a versatile fielder and left-handed hitter, Loperfido could at least platoon with Abreu and find playing time at other positions as well. Calling up Loperfido seems like a no-brainer, but the Astros are standing their ground.

How many homers will Loperfido have to hit before he receives that phone call? Perhaps the better question might be, how many more at-bats can the Astros afford to give to Abreu?

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