Only move to AL may loom larger than Aiken non-signing

It’s the Astros’ D-Day. The ramifications are huge, and it may be the biggest day in Jeff Luhnow’s career.

The trades, the free agent signings, the firings, the hirings, the signs in left field, three straight 100-loss seasons all may pale in comparison if the Astros don’t sign #1 draft pick Brady Aiken by 4 p.m. Friday.

Only the move to the American League may loom as a larger debacle than the failure to sign the top pick in the 2014 draft. Even if Aiken caves and signs for significantly less than the $7.9 million slot value, the fiasco could have far-reaching repercussions.

Frankly, the Astros are potentially in a no-win situation. Even if they are proven absolutely right in their speculation about Aiken’s elbow years from now, the damage is likely done. It’s sort of like a front page headline shouting major news and, later, the newspaper running a retraction on page 17B.

If the Astros don’t sign Aiken, the legal battles may only be underway. If the Astros don’t sign Aiken, it could impact next year’s draft in more ways than one. If the Astros don’t sign Aiken, the calls for Luhnow’s head will increase significantly.

To be sure, the Jim Crane era has been filled with potholes, detours and diversions. Would a non-signing be the biggest disaster since Crane purchased the team from Drayton McLane? Here’s a list of 10 of the most egregious mishaps.

Simple question: How would you rank these and where would you rank an possible Aiken non-signing? Feel free to add others that aren’t on this list.

  • The move of the team to the American League.
  • The hiring of Bo Porter.
  • Astros cancel the annual wives gala fundraiser.
  • Losing Jim Deshaies as TV analyst.
  • The firing of the radio team Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond.
  • The George Postolos tenure as President.
  • Resignation of Pam Gardner, President of Business Operations.
  • Three consecutive 100-loss seasons.
  • The TV deal.
  • PR blunders involving Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz Sr. and others.

And, some questions to kick off your weekend.

  • Should the Astros kick the tires of Alfonso Soriano or A.J. Pierzynski?
  • On a scale of 1-10, rate your frustration with the Astros?
  • Finish the sentence: The Astros could regain some of my confidence in the second half if . . .
  • Should MLB step in and force the Astros to sign Aiken?
  • Which owner has been worse in your eyes: John McMullen, McLane or Crane?

58 comments on “Only move to AL may loom larger than Aiken non-signing

  1. Blunders: All of the above. A.S or A.J. – nope. Frustration? That is like rating pain at the hospital. Heck – it just hurts. Frustrated – Heck it just hurts. No reason for MLB to be involved. This draft/slot/over-under mess is a mess made by MLB. The smartest guys in the room. The Astros are just playing the game. It stinks but the Astros did not make the rules. I just don’t like either party negotiating in the press. Owner – that is like asking do you want to be shot, thrown off the Empire State Bilding, or given a lethal injection. The Astros need to win some more games in 2014 than 2013, and more in 2015. Tomorrow we shall see what is in your basket, Mr. Luhnow and Mr. Aiken.


  2. The AL move is obviously bigger. After all, a draft pick never making the majors — even a 1-1 — isn’t life-changing. Still, this is part of my rising frustration.

    Look, this year was going to stink slightly less than 2013. It always was. But drafting a high school pitcher was always a dicey thing. And I know hindsight is 20-20. At the time, everyone — AND I MEAN EVERYONE — was sold on Aiken. There might have been people who wanted a bat or Rodon, but nobody was saying it was a stretch to pick this kid. The only complaint was that as a high school arm, there was that little extra uncertainty.

    Well, guess what? That little bit bit us in the Astros.

    Other than the AL move, nothing comes close. Not just because we lose Aiken, but because we now lose Jacob Nix and the kid who is a strong commit to LSU.

    This stinks. Aiken’s arm could fall off tomorrow, and this would stink.

    Appel’s horrid year and Correa’s injury just add to the suckitude.

    A close third is the TV deal debacle. Everything else is shuffled deck chairs.

    Soriano or Pierzynski? Why? Fowler’s coming back, springer will be in right. I’d rather see Kike in left. And what does Pierzynski bring to the plate?

    My frustration level is just below 7 … and rising. I need to see something like the May Astros.

    If they win. Just play within yourselves. Be a .450-.480 team and finish with 70-plus wins.

    No. I think the Astros should sign him. I also think the dumbest thing this kid could do is not sign. Houston isn’t pushing him off for no reason. They have a legit concern on his elbow. Maybe is never goes bad. But it’s like a game of craps: You rolls your dice, you takes your chances. But if he doesn’t sign — say $5.5 million — then he doesn’t get a whiff of even the 40 percent level next year. And Lord forbid he gets injured in college …

    Too early to tell. I loved McLane until he put on blinders in 2007. McMullen was good but never great. Crane has a plan. In 2016 we’ll see how that plan is working.


  3. 1. losing over 100 games three years in a row.
    2. the t.v. debacle.
    3. moving to th AL.
    4. losing JD to the cubs (but since we can’t hear him call the games………..)
    5.the rest is a crap shoot, I have no feelings one way or the other.
    This organization needs to learn HOW to hire managers. PERIOD.
    Drayton McLane was a micro manager, and his front office needed to be gone 10yrs. ago. If this kid doesn’t sign, Luhnow will be demonized through out MLB.

    Even *IF* he signs the kid, there is so much bad blood associated with Luhnow
    and the Astros. His parents have a hand in what happens to the kid, and I’m sure
    his agent has turned them against this club. There have been several GM’s who think the deal will be done, but at what cost? This kind of stuff is not lost on our young guys, they are pretty astute. It will be interesting to see how the sides come together when Springer is approached again to sign a contract. One of the biggest reaons the Red Sox DFA’d A.J.Pierzynski is his handling of the pitchers, who disliked him, and he and John Farrell crossed up more than once. Alfonzo Soriano
    is a waste of good air. He couldn’t hit when he was with the Cubs, and that was in the NL. No thanks.


  4. Oy veh! If Mr. Aiken wants millions of dollars of the Astros’ money to get the opportunity to learn to play a kid’s game for an income most people will never see, he’ll take it. If he wants to be offended, that is his business, too. As far as the immediate public relations fallout either way, this too shall pass.


  5. If my 18-year-old client is scared, I’m going to tell a few people that he’s furious. Through social media, the entire world will think he’s furious.
    If I tell a few people the doctors say he’s healthy, then the whole world will think he’s healthy.
    If I know the Astros can’t say a word, I will tell the world how awful the Astros are and the whole world will believe me.
    As an agent I can say or do anything I want until 4pm central time, when either I will make tons of money off my client to repay me for being an “advisor” or I get to listen to the Astros tell the world what I did and didn’t do and see if they can outshout all the doomdayers and haters who will be trying to lynch them.
    But as an agent I know that every baseball club out there has been through an ordeal similar to this and knows how to handle it. But my client has never been through this and I am the guy who was supposed to shield him from this and I totally screwed him and his future up. The Astros have had their nightmare, but come 4pm, if my client hasn’t signed, my personal hell begins.


  6. I’m sort of burned out on this Aiken debacle, like everyone i don’t see any short term win either way , damage done. The rest is like Becky said a Crap shoot. I have to confess when we were headed to the American league, I yelled, kicked. and pouted, but I’m starting to like having 9 hitters in the line up. When we played Arizona and seeing the weak 8 hitter and pitchers flaying at the baseball, I was like HMMM maybe the AL ain’t so bad


  7. Dan’s rankings of the bad news – Worst first – this is how I think these stink to the general public – the AL deal does not bother me that much anymore but it is one fo the worst for most of the public.

    The TV deal.
    The move of the team to the American League.
    Losing Jim Deshaies as TV analyst.
    Three consecutive 100-loss seasons.
    PR blunders involving Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz Sr. and others.T
    The hiring of Bo Porter.
    Astros cancel the annual wives gala fundraiser.
    The George Postolos tenure as President.
    Resignation of Pam Gardner, President of Business Operations.
    The firing of the radio team Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond.

    (If things do not improve – the hiring of Jeff Luhnow may make the high end of this list)

    Should the Astros kick the tires of Alfonso Soriano or A.J. Pierzynski?
    Not that interested – Pierzynski sounds like a bit of a “Richard” by all reports and I think Soriano is on the downward slope
    On a scale of 1-10, rate your frustration with the Astros?
    With 10 being the worst – I am probably around 8 right now
    Finish the sentence: The Astros could regain some of my confidence in the second half if . . . They show that anybody other than Jose Altuve can improve their hitting significantly
    Should MLB step in and force the Astros to sign Aiken?
    Yeah, we need one last kick in the butt from Bud Selig before he leaves ….no it is the Astro business and black eye
    Which owner has been worse in your eyes: John McMullen, McLane or Crane?
    McLane was the best and maybe the worst – McMullen was blah – Crane gets an incomplete but he is worst in the PR department


  8. My frustration meter is at 5. The bad press, especially the Aiken debacle, put it there. The AL move was an annoyance, but nothing more.

    Why am I at glass half full / empty? Reed, Fisher, Davis, Kemp, Gregor, etc. We have some arms that may develop. I’m not terribly concerned about Appel, Thurman, Emanual, etc. We’ll see them bounce back.


    • Please don’t everyone jump on me, but it has entered my mind…… ONLY entered my mind…… that a $6 Million check might bounce. (Please note just a passing thought)


  9. The Braves have released Dan Uggla! WOW, he must have REALLY pi$$ed off that organization! He is owed around $5 million on the rest of this season, and *12* mill. next year! That’s a lot of $$$ to eat! I’m going to my favorite watering hole tonight, and watch the game on their t.v. Feldman had better show me something, ’cause
    he sure hasn’t done that lately.


    • Number 1 we really need Ryans Biggio and gang to take over and Lunhole and his grew of Braniacs and yes men run out of town. Maybe then even Altuve will get a good contract


  10. At the moment it is more of a PR than a baseball black eye. Three HS pitchers are not coming here. If next year they use the extra pick to pick up a closer to mlb ready stud – it might easily end up better on the field.
    The bigger problem is if this makes this management team one that players and “advisers” (wink-wink not agents) do not want to deal with – especially on players with a good second option.


    • We are now the official pariah organization in Baseball ….Pisses me off . Who knows this kid could end up a bust, but we spent a year scouting everywhere and everyone, we took him Nix and Marshall UGLY Lunhole


  11. Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Come in off the ledge. I’m guessing the sun will come up tomorrow morning. And, last I heard — in fact, ALL I’ve heard — is that Altuve is happy with his contract, especially since he didn’t get one of those draft bonuses. Marshall was never — read: NEVER — coming to Houston. He’s been in Baton Rouge for several days, has a dorm room and is working out with the Tigers. There’s a reason he was drafted in the 21st round to begin with! It’s not the first #1 who didn’t sign. Now, I’ll agree with you this is a PR battle, but let’s see how it plays out. Apparently the Astros attempted to contact Casey Close today, but Bopert’s friend didn’t answer. I’m guessing Nix goes to a JC and is back in the draft next summer. Stay tuned.


    • Chips you crack me up this is baseball not life . If i had to come in off the ledge I would be a very Shallow Person and Im not. I couldn’t disagree with your assessments here . Its not about Aiken, Marshall or Nix Its about your( strange ) Blind trust In Lunhole. Sort of scary actually. we should be pissed at this PR Nightmare. Tony Clark just had a scathing quote on the Astros and the Players Assoc, is looking at legal action. Once again all the facts are irrelevant is about perception Chip!


    • Chips you crack me up this is baseball not life . If i had to come in off the ledge I would be a very Shallow Person and Im not. I couldn’t disagree with your assessments here any more . Its not about Aiken, Marshall or Nix Its about your( strange ) Blind trust In Lunhole. Sort of scary actually. We should be pissed at this PR Nightmare. Tony Clark just had a scathing quote on the Astros and the Players Assoc, is looking at legal action. Once again all the facts are irrelevant is about perception Chip!


    • Mr. Close is not my personal friend. But he’s tight with a good buddy’s older brother and a few other mutual Worthingtonites. I was a pesky freshman when senior stud Casey Close was winning a state championship (with his arm and his bat) for our high-school baseball team.

      That was ’81. Our HS team hasn’t won a championship since.

      The man was one of the best players I’ve ever seen and he’s a well-respected agent. He knows championships and he knows champions, unlike certain greedy shysters that he has the misfortune of dealing with.

      Like I said, Aiken’s decision was made many weeks ago — right about the time he was being Luhballed. There was no reason for Close to return the phone calls. Men with principles just have to suck it up and move on.


      • “Basically, we tried to engage the other side, Casey Close three times today. Made three increasing offers and never received a counter, really they just never engaged, for whatever reason there was no interest. They just didn’t appear interested to sign…”.

        DUH! I wonder why?


      • I’m not sure Luhnow nor Close could have handled this any worse. Close probably cost himself a lot of money and Luhnow likely made it more expensive for the Astros to sign future picks, free agents, or extensions.


      • I looked into Casey Close tonight and I think I was wrong about him. So I want to apologize to you and him. From what I read from his clients and about his family he seems to be very well thought of.
        I said two days ago that I would prefer next year’s 1.2 to signing Aiken with a bad wing, and I still believe that.
        But I also believe, after looking into Close that he is not the one who blew this thing up. I think Luhnow did and I think he ought to be in trouble with his boss and the fans. I think Luhnow thought he could bluff and sweet talk his way into getting all three and he couldn’t. Casey Close called his bluff. If Houston gets away with no sanctions or penalties and get the 1.2 next year they lucked out. But Luhnow looks like a big loser tonight and that isn’t good for the Astros or those of us who are still fans.
        I vehemently contend that Jeff Luhnow wouldn’t know a pitcher if he fell over one and I bet there are three additional young pitchers out there who will agree with me on that.
        Bopert, this deal is really bad.

        Liked by 1 person

    • … your bottom dollar that you’ll find it……tomorrow! tomorrow! ..oh crap Chip, what a classic……before I gather myself for a formal response tomorrow!, I would like to see on this blog the actual times that us humans post, as in 12:03 AM, etc.,. I think as we move forward from the Brady Aiken saga, definitive postings will confirm posterity.


  12. Aiken is only the third number 1 not to sign. The black eye is going to come down to Aiken’s elbow. That won’t be known likely for years. The Astros obviously felt more comfortable with the number 2 pick next year instead Aiken.

    The national media talking heads, if they even get around to talking about Houston, will probably give them a one time blast as the national story is looking like there was no injury and the Astros simply dropped their offer after the physical. Blame the owners for even having the inability to disclose in the CBA.

    I wouldn’t put this one on par with the move to the AL. That one still stings, Aiken will be forgotten about in 2 months, and may never resurface again, unless he becomes the best pitcher in college, and he is far too young for anyone to be projecting anything of serious consequence. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t.

    Honestly it will be 4-5 years before we ever see Brady Aiken in the majors, and there is a lot of time for anything to happen to cause him to lose a tick off his FB, a little movement off his curve, anything, that prevents him from becoming a star.

    The funny part to me is the same people that were ready to call Luhnow a genius for the Correa signing – that allowed him to get McCullers to waffle and sign – are now ready to axe him for attempting basically the same strategy on Aiken and Nix. Somedays you look like the smartest guy in the room, and somedays, you don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lightning round – no the Astros are better at C than Pierzynski, and while I have some confidence in Soriano playing better when he gets a chance – his contact rates, line drive rates, etc, are on par with the last few years – he would just be taking away at bats from someone we need to get them too without being much of, even if, an upgrade.

    Frustration level – 3.

    They can regain some of my confidence by sticking to the plan and not trying to make a few moves that would move their win total from 65 to 75. Stick. With. The. Plan.

    No, MLB should have nothing to do with why they sign.

    Crane has been bad if only because the Astros are still not on most fans TV sets. McLane appeared to not care about losing picks to sign vets, but at least he had a good stint of winning. McMullen was a little before my paying attention to the background noise, I was a fairly young man chanting Cruuuuuuuuuuuzzzzz in the dome, but he didn’t seem like winning was his first priority. Did put together that 86 teams pitching staff that was fun to watch. Winner – McMullen with Crane still on the clock.


  14. Like I said……the younger guys are pretty astute, and the DO talk among themselves. They will be paying attention to how Luhnow does business.


  15. videoidget1
    July 1, 2014

    I agree about the need for a solid farm team. Never disagreed. But Jeff Luhball and his tired approach to lowballing his players is ALREADY starting to ripple through the players and agents community.

    And if the trade leaks aren’t embarrassing enough, look at the SUBSTANCE of the offers. Pretty ridiculous.

    Luhball was lucky to sign Altuve and SinglePuff at bargain-basement rates. But, believe me, his antics are not just one-off, but becoming a disturbing trend.

    Watch what happens if Aiken doesn’t sign.

    These things matter, dude. Having a paltry payroll and penny-ante antics will affect the future of this lousy franchise.


  16. BUT……….the kid was *crazy* for throwing away $5 million. Now he has to either play for a Jr. College, or an independent league organization to be eligible for 2015 draft. If he goes to a 4yr. college, he will have to wait until 2017. Shoulda taken the money kid.


    • And to add to that, Houston has 1.2 AND will get another pick…likely in the top 5. It is conceivable that Aiken falls to a team that has less than $5 million in their pool, if he stays eligible for 2015.


      • Devin, agreed on the “…falls to a team that has less than $5 million in their pool”. Luhnow’s reputation may not be all that was damaged in this process. Whether teams agree or not with Luhnow’s approach, they may certainly take into account the news on Aiken’s elbow. If there is even a shred of doubt in their mind about his health, they could go elsewhere for a more “sure” product, especially in the early round. I believe it’s doubtful that Aiken gets a bonus anywhere close to $5 million.


  17. My take is some people will not do “anything for money”. Luhnow set a value for Aiken. Aiken family had a higher value. This will be a “Nevin” note in history. If “The Plan” is to “flop” and sign the 1.1 – it failed. If it was to draft 1.1 and determine your price later – it worked. If Aiken family does not trust Luhnow – then no need to pick up the phone. If you only want to protect 1.2 next year, don’t increase offer. It appears you were lowballing all along. The Astros live to fight another day (actually year). Losing a 1.1 to not signing or injury is the same thing except you don’t waste the money. Aiken may some day wish he signed with Astros, but probably will never regret going to college. It may be better to swap a 1.1 with health issues for a 1.2 – but it could turn out worst. And there is No Crying in Baseball.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Didn’t Alex White have a disagreement about something recently? I thought I remembered him getting into it with somebody. Anyway he got ejected from both games of a doubleheader tonight by two different umps. He was actually on the bench in the second game when he and Tony D got run off. OKC split two.


  19. If published reports are reliable, the Aiken camp did not even respond to three different offers yesterday. Sounds to me they had decided not to want to be a part of this much maligned organization, and by extension, Nix too, regardless of what was offered. That will remain a theme with this club run by our present GM.

    This latest saga will not be ending soon. The Players Association will file suit quickly in hopes of getting free agency declared, probably for Aiken and certainly for Nix, who was a complete bystander. The Astros will get dragged through the mud. Again. Rightly so. And in the long term, should Aiken go on to have a quality, healthy career, we’ll be constantly reminded of how inept our General Manager is, or was.

    Incident after incident. Agents won’t want to deal with Houston. Players won’t want to come to Houston. Players will leave Houston. This is one sorry baseball club today.

    Again, as I have suggested before, maybe there is the small hope of the minority ownership group raising up as one in an effort to redirecting the way this organization is run. The Ryan family has been very quiet as of late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no grounds for declaring either of the players as free agents. Whether they or Tony Clark like it, the Astros played by the rules they were given. They may as well abolish the draft if that’s all it will take for a couple players to beat the system.

      I’m with you, though, on the fate of the front office. If what we perceive the attitude of players and agents is correct, we will be shopping for new leadership as well as FA this off season.


      • Devin, Nix had accepted an offer from the club. The Astros pulled it back for no reason pertaining to Nix. We’ll see what happens next week when this debacle continues.


      • Both had ‘accepted’ verbal offers. There were stated contingencies as far as we know. There is also precedence for the rescindence of an offer to a draft pick from prior seasons.


      • Daveb – but Nixs rep (also Aikens rep) knew that the Nix offer would be contingent on Aikens signing – knew that if he failed to sign there would be no extra $$$ for Nix to sign.


      • Sorry DanP, but can’t buy your last comment. Nix agreed June 17th – long before the Aiken injury?? etc. Still don’t think anything will come from this because obviously both players and their families want to get away from the Astros. Unless Luhnow told the “advisor” specifically “this offer is contingent upon Aiken being below slot” – it is not the responsibility of the “advisor” to determine from where the funds are to be coming. He does not care if the Astros pay the penalty for going over slot. (Let me add quick, that I do not fault Luhnow if he really believes Aiken is damaged goods)


      • Astro45, there is no deal until both names are on the dotted line. It’s like a player who makes a verbal commitment to a university, then changes his mind because circumstances change. Casey Close knew the deal, whether it was communicated specifically or not. And, frankly, we don’t know WHAT they agreed on. Just the $$$? Other terms? And, there is no signature, so it’s not done until it’s done.


      • Chip, I think you misread my comment. What I said was on June 16th or so, unless the “advisor” was specifically told it had a “contingency”, he would not know. And as stated, Luhnow has every right to change the money based upon later evidence. Close had only two clients dealing with the Astros. He had no knowledge of any other slot changes – if there were any.


    • Dave, just what can the Ryan family say about this? Nolan is just an advisor and has no say so in the daily affairs of the team. He admits such himself. Reed is the team president and runs the business side of the team, not the on-field side.


  20. Time to move on about this……venting is all we are accomplishing, and that’s what my husband is for. I will state again, Nix got royally *screwed* in this deal.
    Now………let’s talk about the *14* strikeouts this team had last night. I got to watch them play last night, and Feldman was REAL lucky to escape with giving up only
    3 runs. Personally I’d relocate him to the 5th. guy in the rotation. I see that Oberholtzer is still up with the Astros, that ought to give Peacock a good case of hives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait, Becky, I thought we moved on. 🙂 Seriously, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. But yeah, after a few days “away”, we got a reminder last night of where this team really is. And Luhnow is the one who can’t get sidetracked with the draft stuff. He has to move on to the trade deadline now. And maybe — as Crane suggested — he can re-appropriate that $7.9 million and upgrade the team!


  21. Jonathan Villar was the first OKC batter to stroll to the plate Saturday night and and was ejected after taking a called strike three by the same ump who had ejected Tony D and Alex White in the first inning the night before.
    Thomas Shirley got pounded for ten hiits and 7 runs and OKC loses 7-3.


  22. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the wind blown in from LF at the Hangar in Lancaster California , but it was last night at 15mph. So both teams combined for just 12 hits in a 5-2 Lancaster win. Home runs by Rio Ruiz and Roberto Pena were the difference in this one. Kent Emmanuel pitched a scoreless five innings and Heidenreich gave up two runs in the back of the tandem mopup.


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