By Chip Bailey
As the Astros get set to sail on what may seem like that well-known three-hour tour, some fans are ready to start bailing water from what some consider a sinking ship.
This long-time fan and many others still believe in The Luhnow Plan and still wave the In Luhnow We Trust banner, but based on the comments on this blog and others, patience is wearing thin, confidence is waning and the edges of sanity are beginning to fray.
The 2014 season is pivotal, if nothing else but for the confidence in Astros’ management. If the Astros lose 100 games, a single finger in the dam won’t hold the flood of criticism and calls for firings, moving/selling the team and I told you so’s.
This entry should not be construed as an indictment on the current state of affairs. There are many positives about the organization, not the least of which has them ranked as one of the top minor leagues of all. I still believe the Astros will return, just not on fans’ timeline. But, as my friend Dan Peschong recently opined: “…fans want a bone thrown our way”.
With that in mind, here are a few concessions and confessions from a long-time Astros’ fan.
First, the concessions.
The Astros won’t be good this year.
- In spite of talented players like Dexter Fowler, Jarred Cosart, Jose Altuve, Jason Castro and a handful of others, the Astros — with their current makeup — will not be good in 2014. Without an infusion of younger players like Michael Foltynewicz, Jonathan Singleton and you know who, it may be a good thing there isn’t a TV deal in place.
The Astros just aren’t good at PR.
- Of course, PR isn’t their job. Winning is, and the Astros’ brass knows that when the day comes Houston wins 90 games, fans will come back. Still, everyone knows Jim Crane doesn’t get fans. Doesn’t connect. Doesn’t understand the guy sitting in section 151, row 23. Now — as much as I like him — I wonder how much Jeff Luhnow relates. The Astros are 30th in payroll to start the season and he takes issue with the accounting methods? He says accountants didn’t add this, should’ve considered that? Heck, throw another $10 million just for a cushion and you’re still 29th! Should just say “hey, hang on, season’s not over, rebuilding’s not done, we’re moving forward”. And, just move forward.
The Astros aren’t concerned about 2014.
- This season was never the goal for Crane and Luhnow. However, this long-time fan and followers thought that Year 3 of the new regime would show a marked improvement. Just how long does it take to get some traction? It’s all about expectations though. Fans expected the Astros to take a huge step forward in 2014. However, management sees 2014 as just another stepping stone in the plan, confident that no matter how many of the remaining fans leave that those same fans — and many others — will return when the plans begins to bear fruit.
And, now for the confessions.
Yes, I was hoping for more…and better.
- Six weeks ago, I was expecting to be talking about Jonathan Singleton, Michael Foltynewicz and that other guy. Not L.J. Hoes, Alex Presley and Anthony Bass. I was hoping for another late spring training trade. I was hoping one of the youngsters would blast their way onto the roster a la Jeff Bagwell. I was hoping for a lot more.
Yes, it’s possible the Astros could lose 100.
- While I don’t believe it’s probable, I must admit that it’s quite possible the Astros will lose 100 games for a (gulp) fourth straight season. Just seems to me the Astros would do everything to avoid that plight, but it just seems they aren’t.
Yes, I’m losing that positive edge.
- With apologies to Scott Feldman and Dexter Fowler, most of the bones Dan referred to will be thrown to us from another state — or at least another city — when the season starts.
Yes, I was hoping 2014 would be different.
- No one was/is asking for the playoffs or even a .500 team. No one expected a Cy Young Award winner or even a Silver Slugger. Any of those would be nice, of course, but most non-fair-weather fans knew what they were in for with the Astros. Still — still! — a reasonable goal should have been 70 wins with an outside shot at 75. It can still be different, yes. But if the cavalry isn’t rushing Minute Maid by June, the Astros won’t be able to give tickets away.
And, yes, I was hoping against hope a miracle would happen and I could watch the Astros on TV.
- Yes, I’d watch a bad team. Would just like to watch my Astros.
To be sure, the 2014 season could turn out alright with marked improvement and a positive step in the reconstruction. I still have my fingers crossed, but I’m no longer holding my breath.