Luhnow’s “guys” are a cross-section of three generations of GMs

“It’s one of those things where you’ve got a new regime in here. They want their guys and it’s coming later in the season; it’s getting closer to September. So they’re going to try their guys and see what happens.” — Lucas Harrell.

Yes,eventually, all of the players on the major league roster and, for that matter, the organization will be “their guys”.

But Jeff Luhnow isn’t stupid. No matter what you may think of the second-year general manager, he has a vested interest in building a quality organization. Even if the team isn’t competitive in 2013, he seems to be following the same principles that he will in 2014, 2015 and beyond.

In other words, it’s difficult to believe he would choose one player over another with the sole reasoning that “he’s my guy”.

Only ten players among the current Astros’ 25-man roster joined the organization after Luhnow became general manager. Here’s the list:

  • Erik Bedard, Travis Blackley, Josh Fields, Jose Veras, Ronny Cedeno, Matt Dominguez, Jake Elmore, Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, Marc Krauss.

Fifteen others on the 25-man joined the organization under older regimes. And, frankly, that breakdown isn’t probably going to significantly change anytime soon, though it is surprising the balance isn’t different considering the dramatic turnover in the organization in the last 18 months.

Without another round of trades that sends old regime players (e.g. Harrell, Bud Norris, Brett Wallace, J.D. Martinez, Wesley Wright) packing, it could be 2-3 years before the scale tips to Luhnow’s “guys”.

While Luhnow has indeed turned the organization upside down and eliminated a lot of the riff-raff, it’s nigh impossible to clean house completely. In fact, only 18 members of the current 40-man roster joined the organization since Luhnow came on board. Moreover, only 4 of the current Top 10 prospects came in under Luhnow’s watch.

Numbers are one thing, but clearly the philosophy has changed from the previous administration. Indeed, in any organization where there is a change of leadership, many holdover often find it difficult to “blend in”. Generally, those members will sift themselves out sooner or later.

And, that friends, is the bottom line: It doesn’t matter whether a particular player came into the organization when Tim Purpura, Ed Wade or Jeff Luhnow was the GM. What matters — and what will matter as the season and decade progress — is that the players who hope to be long-term are those who buy into the system and understand the expectations.

Those players will be Luhnow’s “guys”.

At this point, some of Harrell’s comments indicate he may not be in the fold.


20 comments on “Luhnow’s “guys” are a cross-section of three generations of GMs

  1. If Harrell was throwing like he did last year, he’d still be in the rotation, or getting a shot at playing for a contender. Indeed, Luhnow could care less where his talent originates.

    So Wojoski threw a complete game one hitter last night. Obviously he’s stretched out. Does he get the first nod?


  2. Also when you “Build through the draft”, the turnover will be slower. FAs, trades, Rule 5, etc. makes the change over faster. Sorry, but it continues to look like Luihnow’s hands are tied with payroll budget. Just can’t imagine him keeping many of these players if he were allowed to “buy” better players.


  3. All I know is that we need to find some bonafied hitters. I don’t care which GM signed them. Springer appears to be doing well in OKC. Harrell will not be here long because of a public refusal to accept the new way of doing business.


    • One quick way of getting major league hitters is through the FA market. But will this club be prepared to spend even 50 million in payroll next year to add a couple of bats? If not, then we’re looking at another 20 to 25 million roster and a 4th consecutive 100 loss season. We don’t have enough ready offensive talent in the system at this point. Really, perhaps besides Springer, we have none.


  4. I’m not trying to be mean, and I was a big supporter of Harrell last year, but he’s kind of been acting like an ass this season. I wonder how popular he is with his teammates, as you’d think a constant whiner would be a detriment in the clubhouse…


  5. Chip
    Hey, if Luhnow is as smart as I believe he is – he could care less if the guys are Wade’s, Purpura’s(did we actually ever have any of these), trades, Rule Vs, Luhow’s or 35 year old former pitchers who have recovered from gunshot wounds and just want redemption (see Roy Hobbs).
    Of course at some point the minor leaguers who make it to the top will be mostly Luhnow’s because if they don’t get there quick they are probably never getting there.
    I’m looking forward to start seeing young folks who are more than place holders – then the excitement will begin.


  6. daveb
    The harder thing to swallow about saying the offense needs to have FAs because the minor leaguer everydays are not ready …. is that the minor league everydays would appear to be ahead of the minor league pitchers.


  7. I’m in agreement that Luhnow won’t care where the guys are from if they can play. He’s shown a willingness to give young players a shot to show if they can. Unfortunately most haven’t. But at least getting the chance is something that didn’t happen often with previous regimes.


  8. I’m in agreement that Luhnow won’t care where the guys are from if they show they can play. He has shown a willingness to give young players a call up to show they belong. Unfortunately most haven’t done that. But at least them getting the chance is something that didn’t happen often under previous regimes.


  9. Man I hate to be the first negative comment on Chip’s new site, but when we talk about prospects – the average age of MLB rookies is about 22+/-. That means all the true prospects in the minors should have a birth year of 1990 or later. Scan the OKC roster. These guys are as old as the current roster (26.9 avg with Bedard, Pena, etc in the mix). The clock has run out of most of our AAA prospects. And they would be in Houston if they were able to help the team. So we are probably 2 more years away (if ever) with these guys.


    • I would agree that the clock has run out on many of the guys at OKC, but don’t think you can use that average rookie age as a comparison. Most teams keep “safety nets” stockpiled at AAA and will have several players on those rosters who will never amount to much more than a quick replacement or a cup of coffee. I wouldn’t necessarily use that as a determination of what the team will look like in 2-3 years. Think you can more appropriately use Corpus as a barometer. It’s just a lot more noticeable because there are so many gaping holes on the big league roster right now.


      • Looks like no matter the forum, we can agree on some and disagree on others. First let me say, I was with Crane/Luhnow thru 2012. But the “save the powder” attitude – just prolongs the slump. Every team is able to sign decent FAs each year. Yes it costs money, but the Astros shaved +/- $70 M off their payroll from a couple years ago. Just as one example: Boston lost 93 games last year. They dumped Bobby V. and their Whiners. There were solid FAs that were willing to sign on with a “Last Place Team.” And they turned it around. This plan that takes 4-5-?? years does not appeal to me. Yes there are teams paying $200M that are NOT in first place, but there are two (2) teams paying less than $50 M and they have the worst record in MLB. Just because you have a plan – does not make it a good plan. Angry – No, Frustrated – YES. (And this is REALLY Astro45 and not Bopert)


    • Very true. That’s why I’m going to start printing some Appel / Rodon 2016 bumper stickers. This, of course, assumes we can edge out the Marlins in the race for last place.


  10. Astro 45 –
    The thing I do agree with on the rebuild is to build the minor leagues so solidly as a base that you have long term stability. And I do wish Crane had taken my $10 million donation and got a couple FAs (last part – tongue in cheek). Let’s face it – Boston has such a huge payroll that – yes they can get FAs to go there – but they may be back in last place in a year or two because I’m not sure how good their base is.


    • DanP: On the site where I saw Astros as #2 in prospects – they had Boston at #4 – I believe. But they do have several “end of their career” players. But I guess – so do we. Baseball is so fickle, I truly believe that every dog gets a day in the sun. I am just ready for clear skies over MMP. Also, I think most of the FA contracts in Boston are just one year deals. Seems they (like the Astros) have been burned on those long term deals. The Red Sox have to thank the Dodgers for bailing them out.


  11. One of Luhnow’s first moves as GM was to pick up an extremely talented, but oft-injured Fernando Martinez who had been designated by the Mets after being heralded in NY as the next coming of Strawberry. At any rate, this year Martinez pretty much raked in spring training, hit a HR in his first game after being called up from Okla City, but quickly fell out of favor with all the Biogenesis talk and strikeouts, that too closely resembled what other Astros players were doing too often. So, even at 23, he was designated for assignment for a second time in his career. Ah, but alas, Martinez may get another shot in New York — only this time for the Yankees, who picked him up after he was designated. Has anyone checked on his stats at Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA)? He’s hitting like 325 and slugging over .525. His on base is almost 4.00 and he’s had like 7 doubles and 4 HRs in 22 games.


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