added 12/18/2013 by Bob Hulsey
Yay! The Astros Are Spending Money!
I wonder. Does Jeff Luhnow take his decision scientists with him when he does his Christmas shopping?
Luhnow is doing his own type of Christmas shopping for the Astros this December and he's in search of some once-in-a-lifetime bargains, not those cubic zirconium Carlos Penas or those cheap Rick Ankiel knockoffs.
This year, Jim Crane has told Luhnow he can spend for real players and he's started out by signing an overlooked pitcher to a $30 million deal and inked some of those cool retro Astro relievers.
Chad Qualls and Matt Albers haven't pitched for Houston since 2007 and they are about to find out that a lot has changed since then. In 2007, the Astros were fresh off their only World Series appearance and had just watched Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte take their act back to Broadway in the revival of Bosom Buddies II: The Hyperdermic Years".
Drayton McLane's mantra was "What Have You Done Today To Become a Champion?" Craig Biggio aimed for 3,000 hits while Carlos Lee aimed for the buffet table. The Astros were a well-respected member of the National League.
Now Jim Crane's mantra is "What Have You Done Today To Become a Minor League Champion?" The Astros are now the disrespected butt of the American League. But, suddenly, the three-time 100-plus losers are making noises about building a competitive squad.
Granted, adding an underachieving outfielder and a .500 pitcher won't make the rest of the division shudder. It might make them convulse in laughter though.
Notice how low the bar has been set in Houston. They can add $30 million to the payroll and still be the worst-paid team in the majors. They can pick up some spare parts and have the fan base applaud like they just signed Robinson Cano. Why, the Astros might actually play on tv again if this keeps up.
But, honestly, I don't want the Astros taking any shortcuts now. They told us as they nuked their big league roster for a bevy of farm hands that this would be a long process and they would be in it for the long haul. This was "the right way", in fact "the smart way". That's why they added all those decision scientists, don't you know, to make sure that every move was the height of intelligence.
They WANT you to laugh while Dexter Fowler becomes a 30/30 player. They WANT you to snicker when Scott Feldman wins a Cy Young Award. It will only confirm that they are the smartest men in the room and we were fools to doubt them.
The Astros, you see, are no longer a baseball team. They are a doctoral experiment, hijacked by the Wizards of Smart to prove to you that, by crunching numbers, they can build a World Champion for less money and with players nobody wanted. It's Revenge Of The Nerds IV: Now The Chicks Will Like Us (with Luhnow in the role of Brad Pitt) being played out in American League ballparks across the country.
With any luck, you'll get to see it on tv someday, maybe even own the DVD with the director's commentary. In the meantime, enjoy your minor league champions.