Perhaps Jeff Luhnow has adopted the growth and maturity timeline of the Chinese bamboo plant.
The growth pattern of the Chinese bamboo tree is unusual, virtually unlike any other plant on the planet. Farmers plant the seed and then for four years, water, nurture and carefully care for the seedling, which shows absolutely no outward signs of growth.
Then, in year five, the plant shoots up as much as 80 feet, finally showing all the fruit of the tender care of the farmer. Plenty of time for moaning and groaning, deviating from the plan or just plain giving up.
For two years, the Luhnow Plan has been in place. Without any signs of growth, sprouting or improvement, the nurturing and special care has been taking place. But why now? Why this fall? What was happening in the background and in the soil that makes now the time that we’re seeing some signs of growth?
It would be really cool to get a peek behind the veil to see what has been taking place. In the mean time, most of us are enjoying watching the first sprouts of Luhnow’s bamboo tree.
But why now? Why let the organization fall all the way into the deepest abyss? Why not intercept a third 100-loss season with a Scott Feldman or Dexter Fowler last off-season? Obviously, some of the best growth in plants and trees occurs after pruning. And, indeed, the Astros have been pruned, sheared, shaved and snipped.
It seems clear that Luhnow and owner Jim Crane wanted to strip the club of any connections to the past. Any “connections” being those who clung to the lifestyle and philosophy of the previous administration. Any “connections” meaning any player who couldn’t get with the Luhnow or Porter programs. It was more about attitude than not spending money. It was more about philosophy than cutting budget.
Virtually an entire 40-man roster has either been traded, released or has chosen to play elsewhere since Luhnow became GM. It seems almost an eternity since we were debating Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon, Brian Bogusevic and even Jordan Schafer, Humberto Quintero, J.B. Shuck and Jason Bourgeois. All of those and others played during the Luhnow Era. Many of those didn’t fit into the gameplan.
But therein lies the answer. Perhaps. The only veterans on the 2014 version of the Astros will either have joined the team under Luhnow or will have become veterans under Luhnow. They’ve learned the ways of Luhnow and Porter. And, perhaps most importantly, they’ve bought into the doctrine, the philosophy and the attitude.
Bottom line: This is Jeff Luhnow’s team. At least, his players dominate the roster. His players will lead the team in 2014. And, it’s his players who will shape the future of the organization.
The trades and replenishing the minor league system were only the watering and nurturing part of the growth process. The growth couldn’t begin until the foundation was completed. It’s the only answer to “why now”?
Unless you have another viewpoint.