added 5/8/2014 by Scott Barzilla
As many of you know, Speedy's board is associated with Astros Daily. The other day, I was perusing through the archives to take a stroll down amnesia lane.
One of the more entertaining threads went back to the 2007 offseason when we debated how much the team should offer Andy Pettitte to come back. Of course, it wasn't the Pettitte debate I found most entertaining. It was the associated opinions on other players that might have as well been 20 years ago rather than seven.
At the time, the rotation would have likely been some combination of Brandon Backe, Jason Hirsh, Ezekiel Astacio, and Wandy Rodriguez. The everyday lineup would have included Jason Lane, Chris Burke, Morgan Ensberg, Adam Everett, and Charlton Jimerson. It wasn't the fact that some of it turned out not to come to pass, but that virtually none of it came to pass. Wandy is still a factor in Pittsburgh, but he has given them very little on their investment return. The rest stalled out a long time ago.
I wouldn't exactly call the Astros a failure as an organization. Back in 2007, they were flirting with a franchise .500 winning percentage and had advanced to eight different postseasons if you count 1981. Sure, that may not match the Yankees or Cardinals historically, but it is a damn sight better than organizations like the Mariners, Royals, and modern Pirates.
Still, something has happened on the way to the upper echelon of baseball organizations. It's still early in 2014, but the Astros are on pace to finish dead last again for the fourth year in a row. That would give them a record fourth consecutive number one overall pick and a record total of six in the history of the amateur draft. Having the fourth consecutive last place finish would be the first such streak since the Amazing Mets.
This is where baseball differs from their basketball and football brethren. You can hire the best scouts, have the most advanced logarithms, and even hire medical experts and still not get it right. You can devise an ingenious plan to sign as many top prospects as possible with your bonus pool and still not get it right. Those of us on Speedy’s board spoke longingly of those prospects above and others with a very straight face. We naturally spoke less than glowingly about the general managers that brought them in, but the fact is that they did their due diligence and just happened to miss.
So, when we speak glowingly of Michael Foltynewicz, Mark Appel, Jonathan Singleton, Delino DeShields Jr., Carlos Correa, Rio Ruiz, Domingo Santana and George Springer, we are simply talking about similar talents. Sure, a scout could come in and explain why they are better than their 2007 counterparts with a straight face. That kind of observation could be best considered hindsight. The point is that we will be lucky if half of the guys we project today will make it.
Jeff Luhnow knows the score. He can make all the right decisions, but he knows the bloom is already off the rose in this Grand Rebuild. The longer this team continues to finish dead last, the more that bloom will go away. You can make all the right moves and something may still get in the way. Call it fate, luck, or a simple lack of foresight. His fortunes will rest on the performance of those players above just like Tim Purpura got ousted on the failure of those prospects at the top. The key is having a critical mass of them and making deft moves to compliment them. Meanwhile, we hope that all of these number one overall picks fare better for the Astros than did Floyd Bannister and Phil Nevin.