Dana Brown: “Don’t See Any Scenario” Where Astros Sell At Deadline

The Astros came back to beat the Cardinals tonight. They’re now 27-34, seven games below .500 and as many back of the Mariners in the AL West. Houston has yet to fire on all cylinders as they seek an eighth straight trip to the AL Championship Series; they’ve yet to climb above .500 after starting the season with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

Even as the team has floundered, general manager Dana Brown has painted an optimistic picture in his public comments. Brown told the MLB Network on May 7 that he “couldn’t envision” selling at the deadline. He doubled down on that assertion before tonight’s win. “I don’t see any scenario where we’re sellers,” the GM told the Houston beat (link via Chandler Rome of the Athletic). “I think we’re going to be buyers.”

On the one hand, it’s not surprising that Brown reiterated the stance he expressed a month ago. Even if the front office were privately beginning to consider selling scenarios, it’s far enough from the deadline that Brown is unlikely to publicly declare as much. Houston has a veteran roster that certainly entered the season with championship aspirations. That said, the Astros haven’t done much to change their fortunes in the four weeks since Brown’s last declaration.

Houston held a 12-22 record heading into play on May 7, placing them seven games back in the division. They’ve been better over the past month, going 15-12 over their last 27 contests, but it hasn’t been the kind of resounding play they’ll need to eventually pull out from the hole they dug with a terrible April. Houston’s division deficit hasn’t changed in the last four weeks (though Seattle has jumped the Rangers for the top spot).

The upcoming few weeks could offer that opportunity. Houston has series against the Angels, White Sox, Rockies and Mets in June. They also have two more against St. Louis and three games apiece with the Giants, Tigers and Orioles. Asked whether a poor performance over the next six to eight weeks could force the Astros to sell, Brown said the team “would have to really fall apart” to change direction. “The pitching would have to be struggling. The hitters would have to be struggling. If there’s any sign of hope, I can’t see us doing it,” he added.

To that end, Brown said the front office would like to bring in another bat, preferably a left-handed hitter. Houston is down to Kyle TuckerYordan Alvarez and Jon Singleton as lefty hitters on the MLB roster. Backup catcher Victor Caratini is a switch-hitter, while lefty-swinging rookie Joey Loperfido was optioned to Triple-A when José Abreu returned to the MLB roster last week.

Brown’s comments came before Tucker left this evening’s contest when he fouled a ball off his right shin. The star right fielder, who is playing at an MVP level, was on crutches in the clubhouse after the game (noted on X by Adam Spolane of SportsRadio 610). Tucker fortunately told reporters that x-rays came back negative, but that’ll be a situation worth monitoring over the next few days.

First base still stands as the biggest question mark in the Houston lineup. Abreu has only collected three hits in six games since being recalled. His season batting line sits at .115/.170/.161 in 94 plate appearances. Singleton has drawn enough walks to be a roughly average hitter against right-handed pitching. That’s far superior to Abreu’s work but still not imposing at a bat-first position.

The Astros’ biggest need is arguably on the other side of the ball, however. Houston’s rotation has been hit hard by injury and poor performance from their back-end starters. While the club could welcome Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia back midseason, they’re in danger of losing José Urquidy for the year. Cristian Javier’s status remains up in the air as he evaluates treatment options for forearm discomfort. Depth starter J.P. France is on the Triple-A injured list with a shoulder concern.

Framber ValdezJustin VerlanderRonel BlancoHunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti make up Houston’s current rotation. The latter two righties have had particularly rough seasons. Arrighetti has allowed nearly six earned runs per nine through his first nine MLB starts. Brown’s ERA sits narrowly above 6.00. Both pitchers (especially Brown) have looked better in May after being rocked in the season’s first month, but the Astros have very few options behind them if anyone else suffers an injury. Left-hander Eric Lauer is their only upper minors starter with much MLB experience.


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