Rumblings: Should Luhnow be on the hot seat?


Are the rumblings growing louder for Jeff Luhnow’s head? Maybe, but it would take failure of a gargantuan level for owner Jim Crane to blow it all up three years into the reconstruction blueprint that promises and improvement this year. Wouldn’t it?

From Ken Rosenthal over the weekend.

Internal tension  seems unavoidable. Owner Jim Crane has made no secret of his desire for the team to win more games. Nolan Ryan, appointed as an executive adviser last February, comes from an entirely different background than Luhnow — and Ryan’s son, Reid, is the Astros’ president of business operations.

Maybe it’s time to take out a blank piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and write the pros on one side and cons on the other. Pros, as in the reasons Luhnow should keep his job. Cons, as in the list of arguments to fire the third-year GM.

There is a plethora of cons no doubt. Certainly the critics can list more negatives than plusses, but wouldn’t that be true of most any GM in the same situation? Especially at this juncture of his tenure?

I’ll let you put together the complete lists, but here’s the quick argument against firing Luhnow. At least right now. Do you really believe the best answer is for the organization to start all over and further delay the return to competitiveness?

Firing Luhnow would likely require a complete overhaul of the front office, which could set the organization back another decade. So many of the personnel from coaches to minor league staff to scouts and player evaluators subscribe to the Luhnow system.

If Luhnow goes, a dozen or more others will follow and it would be an admission by Crane that one of his primary decisions was wrong. Remember, it wouldn’t be the first admission: George Postolos left last year.

Are those reasons not to fire Luhnow? Not entirely, but it should give pause to Crane to consider the decision from every angle. A Luhnow firing would come with huge ramifications. Then again, you can make the same argument if he continues in his role.

Perhaps a better solution is to bring a balance to the front office. Managers are asked to restructure their staffs often. GMs shuffle the roster regularly. Yet, Luhnow’s staff has largely been kept intact since Day 1.

The key to success is being able to put key people around the GM to create a solid, well-rounded nucleus that doesn’t mind speaking its opinion. That’s the answer, not a firing.

While the question is simple, though, the answer is not.

  • Is starting over with a new GM … again … the answer?
  • If Luhnow abandoned the tandem pitching system, would that be enough to win you over?
  • What’s Luhnow’s biggest faux pas?
  • And, his biggest success or benefit?
  • If Luhnow were fired, should Bo Porter follow?
  • If not now, at what point will Luhnow wear out his welcome?
  • Any successors you would recommend heartily?

 

 

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79 comments on “Rumblings: Should Luhnow be on the hot seat?

  1. Here are my lists of pros and cons:
    Pros
    – He took over a wreck of a farm system and helped raise it to the top of the heap.
    – Getting a nice haul for Happ and other crap
    – Pulling off the under spot signing of Correa (who seems to be the real thing – injury or not) that allowed the pickup of McCullers and Ruiz.
    – Rebuilding the starting staff from a laughing stock to a solid rotation pretty quickly.
    – Application of defensive shifts that overall seem to be working.

    Cons
    – Disaster of a bullpen rebuild
    – Riding the coatails of Ed Wade for much of the rebuilt minors
    – The tandem pitching failures in the minors
    – The $$$$ mind games with the top prospects in the minors
    – The very slow success at the major league level
    – The total PR disaster of the Aiken and others non-signing

    It would be very unusual for a GM to fall before the Manager in this type situation. But there is a chance it could happen. Not a high chance but…….

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  2. Lord forbid.

    Basically, Rosenthal is saying that by not signing Aiken–a move that surely included Crane’s input–that Crane should fire Luhnow. Added to the insanity of that proposal is the fact that Houston will get the 1-2 pick next year.

    The other “nail” in his coffin is that Houston isn’t winning now. But Luhnow was not hired to win now. He was hired to build a sustainable team by taking the worst farm system in baseball and turning it into a prospect factory. Then, and only when the prospects started arriving en mass, Luhnow would start spending cash to fill in the holes.

    Well, good job on the first part. We have yet to arrive at the second part.

    And I know there’s the argument that by not signing Aiken (plus the other kid), Luhnow fumbled his chance to build that farm system.

    Of course, the alternate argument is that by not signing Aiken, he saved the Astros from wasting money on a bum arm and gave them a chance to pick high in 2015. And since Aiken was a minimum of four years from the majors, it’s not like not signing him messed up some timeline.

    So, no, despite the computer glitch and the Aiken debacle, Luhnow is still doing what he was hired to do.

    Now, you could argue that his plan–the Luhnow Plan–is a false path. But Crane has long ago bought into the Luhnow Plan, so again, I don’t think Crane is about to fire his GM.

    If the 2015 draft is a major bust (and I think it’s way to early to call the 2014 draft a major bust), then maybe we start this conversation. Now, though, I still trust in Luhnow. He’s made flat-out mistakes (Jesse Crain) and questionable deals (the Jed Lowrie deal still bugs me … a good SS is a lot harder to replace than a DH).

    But if you’re making a pro-con list, I think you need to assign weight to each move. The Aiken debacle? On a scale of 1-10, I’d call that a 3.5. We traded the 1-1 in 2014 for the 1-2 in 2015, and we didn’t sign a fifth rounder. So, basically, we lost Jacob Nix. The Crain signing? I’d call that a 5. We signed a closer we’ll never see.

    Anyway, that’s my rant on this topic. I know I’m going to be called a Kool-Aid drinker, but here’s the thing. I believed in the Luhnow plan long before I’d ever heard of it or Jeff Luhnow. And I think this is a better team that is heading in the right direction.

    By next year, we’ll have Correa in AA to start the season and, maybe, Houston by August or September. That awesome 2013 Quad Cities team will be in Corpus. And we’ll be on track to see a great, young and controllable Astros team in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happ is starting for the Jays two years later. David Carpenter is pitching well in one of the best bullpens in baseball in Atlanta, while we have the worst bullpen in baseball for three years running. The Astros have yet to get anything out of that trade. It has proven to be a horrible trade. Comer is in Low A, Musgrove is in rookie ball. Cordero and Francisco were a disaster. Perez is hitting .263 in his second year of AAA. Rollins is toiling in AA, and Wojo has spent all year hurt and out of commission.
    Luhnow got fleeced on that deal. Even a crystal ball can’t make that trade look anything but a loser for Luhnow.
    That farm system has nine teams and only three of them have winning records. Does that sound like one of the best farm systems? Of course we have the players. We just don’t have a decent GM.
    Give me one name of a player from South or Central America that he has signed as a free agent that has done anything you can brag about.
    -Jerome Williams, Darrin Downs, Jessie Crain, Matt Albers, Qualls, Amador, Fowler, Heras, Raul Valdez, Feldman. He signed all those players this past year. How have they Done? The Astros are terrible and, other than Qualls, we have been burned on every one of them. Do I really have to go into the 2013 Blackley file?
    Jeez, I am just getting started.

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    • OK – have to admit I was looking at the trade through my mind’s eye at the time – thought it was insane to get much for who they traded.
      Yes, Happ is starting 2 seasons later and he has given the Jays two seasons in the 4.5 and 4.6 ERA range – he is doing a little bit better this season, due to two recent good outings – but he is still a 5.5 inning per start guy and frankly would be our probable 5th starter if he were here. Carpenter did nothing for the team that traded for him – the Jays and after a very good 2013 is putting up Darrin Downs numbers with the Braves this season.
      Anyways – I’ll agree that the Jays got a slight edge in that trade – so far.

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      • I never liked Happ. I think he is a wuss. We have gotten nothing out of that trade but a few blown saves by Cordero.

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    • Would you rather have Correa, McCullers and Ruiz or Buxton? For me, I would take the former over the latter and, thus, would say Luhnow did alright in the 2012 draft. Right now, Bryant looks to be better than Appel, but it is still early to call this one a loss for Luhnow. Let’s see what happens 5 years down the road. Maybe Bryant turns into a AAAA player and Appel figures it out and becomes a strong #2 SP. Maybe Appel is a bust and Bryant turns into a 30 HR, .300 BA guy. We don’t know yet. What I do know is Luhnow, based upon the experts, turned an atrocious farm system into a top 3 system in less than 3 years.

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      • Tim, the problem is that some of us don’t want to wait another five years. We’ve already sucked for too many. As a whole, Astro fans are far too patient. Heck, we’re a big city with a thriving economy. We get things done here. Our club has no business being terrible for a decade, regardless of what owner(s) are at the helm.

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      • Dave, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I will trust the experts evaluation of our farm system over yours. I am sure you are a knowledgeable baseball fan, but I think Jonathan Mayo and Keith Law do it as their business. Thus, I will put a bit more credence into their evaluation of our farm system than your evaluation. No disrespect, sir.

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      • Also, I wasn’t saying to wait 5 years for the Astros to be competitive again. I was saying we should wait 5 years before we call drafting Appel over Bryant a loss. One player is not going to determine the Astros success going forward.

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  4. I love Carlos Correa.
    Carlos Correa is Luhnow’s #1 accomplishment.
    However, the top ranked prospect in all of minor league baseball is the guy Luhnow passed up to get Correa. Byron Buxton
    So even his best job didn’t pay off like it should have.
    He drafted Mark Appel at 1.1 in 2013. The guy he passed up is now the #3 prosect in all of baseball and is bombing the ball in AAA. Kris Bryant. Luhnow blew that.
    He Drafted Brady Aiken 1.1 this year. Now we get to wait a year and draft the second best player in next year’s draft. Luhnow blew that. Plus he blew the Nix pick and made this draft a laugh for all of America.
    But I think the biggest miscalculation that Luhnow has made is that in depleting this franchise at the top, he is now forced to bring up players to each level that are just too young and too green and not ready. That is why we are still so bad in AAA and the majors. We just got rid of everybody who was capable of performing and now we’re trying to rush everybody. Santana struck out four times tonight and has struck out all but two at bats in the majors. What in the hell is Luhnow trying to do to him? What in the world is Mark Kraus doing on this team? What is Brad Peacock doing on this team? Having the younget team in the majors and the youngest teams in the minors does not make us better. It makes us younger.

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    • Well, oldpro, since you put it *that* way! I can’t quibble too much with some of your thoughts. However, I’d suggest that Appel was the consensus #1 in 2013, so if Luhnow missed, so did a lot of others. On the Correa pick, yes, they gambled to save money for McCullers, who likely wouldn’t have signed without the extra $$$$ saved on Correa.

      I’ve said this before, but with the mess that was left in 2011 and all the moves necessary to right the ship, anyone would have bungled a lot of moves, simply because there were more moves required.

      Still, Luhnow is probably his own worst enemy. He could take steps to restore faith and credibility, but it doesn’t appear he has…or will. And, indeed, that’s on him.

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    • Agreed – you don’t sign mediocre free agents to be the missing piece right now, but rather to bridge the gap. Instead, Luhnow keeps going after penny stocks like Alex Presley. I’ll give him credit for trading for Fowler and signing Feldman / Qualls (because it’s not my money). Other pickups, like McHugh may turn out as huge wins, but we won’t know until he proves he is not Lucas Harrell 2.0.

      On the 13 draft, I wanted them to pick Appel, but calling him a consensus #1 is laughable. Gray was in the running and still #1 in many clubs lists despite the failed drug test. Many others wanted Bryant and considered him the #1 prospect. The Appel decision wasn’t even final until that morning according to the press.

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    • Oldpro, that is just hyperbole (the usual hyperbole). You blame Luhnow for picking the guy that the people who now say he shouldn’t have picked that guy, said to pick the guy back then. You are not a talent evaluator. How about we just wait and see what happens with these prospects.

      Aiken, without the teeny-tiny UCL was a huge risk. As a top ten high school pitcher his chances of even reaching MLB was about 50-50, and about a 30% chance of pitching 300 innings.

      See:
      http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2013/5/9/4291674/risky-business-the-mlb-draft-part-one
      http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2013/5/9/4291674/risky-business-the-mlb-draft-part-deux

      That is about a 15% chance of getting anything worthwhile from Aiken. In the absence of a decent college bat, the smart move was to try and get Aiken not to sign and take his chances in next year’s draft. Accidental though it may be, it is probably the best move Luhnow has made.

      Those that you describe as “capable of performing” gave us our first 100 loss season. Jed Lowrie, lower than average wRC, and behind Marwin, Bud Norris, an exactly average SP, ditto Jordan Lyles, Wandy Rodriguez, and JDM with his small sample size have gone on to excel and prove that Luhnow’s biggest failure is to ignore the advice of Oldpro-strodamas on the Chipalatta Blog.

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      • Brad Mills gave us our first 100 loss season. Why am I not surprised with the links you provide coming from Luhnow’s toyroom? At Chipalatta we are allowed to criticize Luhnow without the hordes of zombies going at our throats when we do it.
        A number of people like what is happening with the Astros because they think it is a genius who destroyed the Astros and that every failure that they have seen in the last three years is somehow like Nero burning the old city and it’s old people, and that, out of the ashes will rise a new city, their city, their Astros. And every new Aiken is a failure that is part of the master plan to get that 1.2 next year. and every loss is a building block to make our fo;;owers believe that our planned tomorrows are much worth our destruction of today.
        Drafting Aiken and then getting him not to sign, wasting your fifth round pick, pointing the finger at the entire baseball world is just the best move Luhnow has made. You read it there, folks in Flash’s post. An accident, turned into a move by a genius and another burned out building leaving an empty space for the artist to fill with his proposed future wonder.

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  5. If you get on a cruise ship in Galveston and head toward Cozumel, when you are out to sea for about 6 hours, that is NOT THE TIME to decide you want to go to Alaska. Luhnow said what he was going to do and is doing it. I, for one, agreed with dumping the overpaid and underperforming roster he inherited. Past that, he is less than 50-50. What we all do not know is how much pressure he is under from Crane on the money. Yes there is a lot more than last year, but he may be forced to settle for 2nd tier talent, or the top talent may not want Houston/Luhnow. Finally, I like you guys but anyone that can not see that he blew this year’s draft is blind. He missed out on two well respected draft picks. Neither may ever play AA ball, but that proves nothing. And any pick in 2015 delays the team one year. Everyone cheered this year “We got 1.1, we got 1,1, we got 1,1” Now the cheer is “We got 1.2, we got 1,2” and that is supposed to be a better deal.

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    • Totally agree that the top of the 2014 draft turned out to be an embarrassment and a horribly wasted opportunity. But for me what is unsure is whether it was just a cruel joke played on the Astros by fate, or a stupid mistake made by the F.O. If someone insists it was a mistake, I wonder, was [a] choosing Aiken 1.1 in the first place (which Luhnow had to do without the benefit of a medical evaluation), or [b] failing to sign him [and maybe his buddy] anyway once his medical report said whatever his medical report said.

      If someone says the mistake was choosing Aiken, it is kind of like choosing Mark Appel pver Kris Bryant. Both Appel and Aiken were consensus 1.1 picks. Once you get to the area of consensus #1 picks, it’s kind of like picking numbers for the lottery, isn’t it? So does everyone who chooses 7 instead of 3 deserve to be fired?

      Now if someone says the mistake was not ante-ing up and signing Brady for six million plus anyway after the medical report came back, that is a much more interesting area of discussion. But alas, to be good judges of that we would all have to see the medical report – and we haven’t, and probably never will. Under HIPAA, Aiken would have to release that – and strangely, that AIN’T happening.

      Sometimes bad stuff just happens. Sometimes human beings bring it. I am just not sure which happened in this case.

      But just for old time’s sake, I’d personally like to blame Bud Selig, Scott Boras, and Carlos Beltran. I have just as much information upon which to blame those guys for the debacle as I do to blame Crane and Luhnow.

      I know. I’ll put on the body armor. Fire away!

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      • Calm and collected.
        Correa or Buxton. I say he did fine, but everybody else, who is not an Astros fan, says otherwise.
        Appel vs Bryant. One is doing awful, the other is doing great.
        Aiken vs anybody. How did he do on that?
        Three 1.1 picks and he misses on all three according to the experts. So in the biggest moments of drafting, he is 0 for three, SO FAR.
        “So Far” is all we have to go on.
        We are rating the performance of a MLB GM. Bad luck or Astros jinx has to be left out of the evaluation.

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  6. I’m sitting here in San Juan with a headache at one of my least favorite airports, and I know, I don’t expect any sympathy. But I also believe that our minor league system is not all it’s cracked up to be, or at least, our prospects are not being groomed as well as they could be. Development is a huge part of the equation. Signing guys is just the first step. And I don’t care what all the ramifications of the Aiken non deal were, but the fact is that our GM did not get his number one pick signed. I could go on and on, but oldpro has already covered most of the ground that I would have. Pro, all of your points are solid. I’ll give Luhnow one thing, he has built a pretty good rotation. But what else has he accomplished? I really would not mind a bit if Luhnow got his walking papers come October.

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    • That is so weird. I watched a Hallmark Movie last night about San Juan. and everything was great, except for the construction and lost luggage and Hurricane.

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    • Hey, I’ll give you some sympathy. That is my least favorite airport without doubt. I have repressed memories of watching headline news on loop for eight straight hours, waiting for flights that would inevitably be delayed for an hour while they searched for a pencil to tally the luggage weights to know whether they had to leave a few passengers behind.

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      • Not all bad Devin, I’m on my way to the city of brotherly love! Pro, Old San Juan I like, but not this airport. I’ve got all my luggage, construction is in the main terminal at this point, which I bypassed. And no hurricanes so far. That’s a blessing for us here in the region.

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  7. Wow some great well though out posts Impressive stuff. On a scale to 1-10 I give Lunhole a 3. I agree with who ever said he is riding the Shirt tail of some good Wade moves, I think Old Pro stated quite thoroughly his bone head moves the last few years. I also think our farm system is over rated. We have a few solid prospects but once again as someone stated, they are not being prepared for the bigs or being rushed

    To do a major overhaul right now would be a bit scary. Most successful leadership groups i have been around have balance in that group. I think Crane gave Lunhow the Keys to the Kingdom and Lunhow surrounded himself with a bunch of Mini Jeff’s. As my mentor once said :” if you have 2 leaders in a room and they always agree one of them is not needed”

    I think Crane needs to get some baseball people in the room and balance the Executive table. We need a Balance of old school baseball and this statistic /nerd stuff.

    Im one of the few I know who likes Porter , I think he has done a professional job of staying positive and doing the best he can with what he has been given and had to deal with( A lot of negative out there about our Stros and the organization). He has done some bone head stuff and is learning on the job, but geeze besides Altuve look at this 25 man roster, beside some decent starting pitching,

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  8. Let’s discuss the top 3 prospect in the Astros organization when Luhnow got here, and their handling by Jeff Luhnow.
    Singleton was #1. He had a drug suspension, which was followed by an alchahol problem that Luhnow didn’t know about, but admitted he found out in a coffee shop interview. Then Singleton is held back from being moved up until he signs a long term deal. Now he’s hitting below .200 has Luhnow’s contract in his pocket and we pretty much are stuck with him, unlike the other awful first basemen Luhnow mistakenly had at first base previously. I wonder how Singleton feels about Luhnow.
    Springer was #2. This guy actually killed it in the minors and was ready for the majors, but was not brought up because he refused to sign a raw deal. The deal was misreported as a semi-sweet deal by Ken Rosenthal, making Luhnow falsely look good and Springer look like a cad. Later, Rosenthal admits his facts were wrong, tells us that Springer’s proposed deal was a rotten one, and then Spring is sent to AAA and the team has an awful outfield, causing a horrible record in April, then Luhnow calls up Springer and he does great until he gets hurt and his rehab and recovery are dragged out over months. I wonder how Springer feels about Luhnow.
    Cosart was our #3 prospect. He has publicly stated his differences with Luhnow’s handling of pitchers in the minor’s, was unhappy with the way he had been handled, went public on Luhnow’s cheapness and manipulating the system to the detriment of players in the minors. Then he was unhappy about how Luhnow kept him and other players down to purposely cost them money and to save the billionaire money and he aired that in the offseason, so we would know about it. The club never could get Cosart’s mechanics straightened out(as if they had someone who could or Cosart was so disenamored that he wouldn’t cooperate) and they traded him even though he was a winning pitcher on a losing team. If Coart was unhappy, who do you think was the cause of that.
    So we have the three top prospect all of whom have legitimate beefs with management, all from different backgrounds and types of families, but all end up with real problems with the same GM.

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    • I think you have Cosart confused with Bud Norris. Cosart has never publicly commented against front office that I have seen or heard. He made one tweet in minors expressing discouragement at not being moved up. Same as Keuchel. Hader, and others have done. Every post-game interview I watched Cosart always indicated he was going to watch film and see what adjustments were needed. Watching how his delivery changed multiple times this year, it looks to me like he was working with Strom and trying out different adjustments.

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  9. The plan that Luhnow had when he was hired and is trying to fulfill is what I had hoped for several years with the Astros. I think that he should be allowed to at least finish his five year plan. I’m still in the “trust Luhnow camp”, but not nearly as firmly.

    I was and am still excited about the draft with Correa and the haul in Luhnow’s first draft. I know Appel was the consensus #1 with the experts in Luhnow’s 2nd draft, but not for me. As an avid LSU Baseball fan I was always comparing Aaron Nola (sophomore that year) to Appel. Go back and compare their numbers. Nola was a bulldog every game and outdueled Gray when they played Oklahoma in the college playoffs. Nola was the college pitcher of the year that year as well as last year. Appel pitched one great game his senior year (against UCLA who eventually won the national championship. but was very hittable the rest of his senior year. Nola was not “hittable” his whole college career. My choice would have been between Bryant and Gray. In hindsight Bryant of course. I would be highly surprised if Appel has a career even close to as good as Nola.

    This year, the more I read about Aiken, I keep thinking about a young Warren Spahn. I was certainly for the pick even though I really wanted Nola for the Astros.

    On finding medical concerns they lowered the offer to a minimal to not lose their draft pick next year. I can understand that, as it seems the best choice for the Astros. To offer him 5mil minutes before the deadline just reeks of having no “class” to me. They should have offered that right after the physical if they could see that as a value in also getting Nix and perhaps Marshall. I can understand Aiken and his family being offended. I don’t like the way it was handled.

    Next, I hate the tandem pitching system.

    Finally, I wish Luhnow would get Nolen Ryan to help him in finding bullpen help.

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  10. Looking back at recent 1-1 picks of the last decade – it points out that it is more art than science.
    Would San Diego stick with the Matt Bush pick of would they rather have Justin Verlander, or even Jered Weaver or Billy Butler?
    KC took Luke Hochevar in a first round that included Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.
    Tampa took Tim Beckham instead of Buster Posey.

    Even for some of the good players picked – in 10 years would the teams make different choices:
    Pittsburgh taking Gerrit Cole over Sonny Gray, Jose Fernandez or George Springer.
    Arizona taking Justin Upton over Troy Tulowitski and Andrew McCutchen
    Washington taking Stephen Strasburg over Mike Trout.
    Or even taking Bryce Harper over Matt Harvey or Manny Machado.

    It is easy to look back and say pick someone else.

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    • But what if you are the first GM in baseball history to get three straight #1 picks, because that is the path you chose to take, and everyone of them is viewed as a mistake by all the experts except Luhnow Lovers?
      We have been the worst team in baseball for four years running, so what in the world do we have to stand on that allows us to say that we are smarter than the other guys?
      And about those amazing defensive shifts? If our shifts are great, and saving us run after run, what does that say about every other aspect of a team that is 49-70. If defensive shifts are the mark of a savvy 49-70 team then people are searching for good stuff that isn’t there.

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      • A lot of teams are employing shifts. It is hard to say how many wins they have saved, but last week we lost a game when Ryan Howard hit the ball through the position Altuve would normally stand. I believe David Ortiz did the same thing to drive in a go ahead run late, but may be confusing a different team. It also caused problems last night as infielders did not reach their cutoff assignments on balls to the outfield.

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  11. I will always love my Stros, but its hard to argue, we are a bad team. Leadership has had a few decent moments, but mostly bad and full of PR night mares and Bull crap excuses and Lunhole rhetoric. The KC Royals are in first and we are excited about maybe getting our 50th win. These years of loosing have made us all lower the bar. WE need to start winning again.,hold Lunhole accountable, I have spent 4 years reading the box scores in the Minor hoping and praying. I’m over it we need big leaguer’s and a few young stud from the minors mixed in . Been watching this AAAA excuse of a team for 4 Frigging years!!!!@! IM OVER IT

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  12. I just want to tag on the comment from Double L above. No one should fault Luhnow for drafting Aiken. After medical review, no one should fault him if he determined his value to be less than the minimum. No one that has any decency of “fairness” thinks you offer the minimum because of a medical issue – and at the 11th hours – up your offer to almost slot value. If Aiken were my grandson, my advice to him would be — you are giving this organization probably the next 7 years of your baseball career at minimum wage. Go back into the draft and hope you are drafted by an honest team. If everything in life was about money, we would all be dealing drugs or robbing banks.

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  13. I think I should point out that I had 5 positive things pointed out for Luhnow and 6 negative ones – so I am not in his corner nor leading the tar and feather gang for him.
    If Correa becomes a fine major league SS I am not going to call it a bad pick by Luhnow just because some experts think there is someone better – after the fact. I can’t fault him on the Appel pick. I do fault him on the Aiken debacle.

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  14. Cons:

    He has signed some guys who didn’t make the all-star team.

    He didn’t sign some guys that are good for other teams.

    He waits too long to bring up players from the minors.

    He rushes guys to the ML.

    We learned from The Leak that he asked other GMs for their good prospects in trades.

    He has prospects in the system that were acquired by Ed Wade.

    He didn’t draft guys that “The Experts” say are now the best players in the draft.

    He implemented the shift

    Pros:

    His name is easy to contort into an epithet. Andrew Friedman and Nolan Ryan, not so much. Nolan not-Tryin’ doesn’t have the same ring as Losenow.

    He drafted guys that “The Experts” said were the best players in the draft.

    He implemented the shift

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    • Opinions are always present in abundance in any group of baseball fans. But it takes years of home-team disappointment, embarrassment and humiliation for a legitimate baseball sense of humor to develop. Speaking of which, Dang I miss Casey Stengel. A few quotes of his might be appropo to this discussion, for instance:

      “The Mets have shown me more ways to lose than I even knew existed.”

      “Without losers, where would the winners be?”

      “You gotta lose ’em some of the time. When you do, lose ’em right.”

      “Never make predictions, especially about the future.”

      “They say some of my stars drink whiskey, but I have found that ones who drink milkshakes don’t win many ball games.”

      Or maybe it’s the quote ABOUT Casey that is most appropriate to this discussion. Yogi Berra said about Casey: ““He could fool you. When Casey wanted to make sense he could. But he usually preferred to make you laugh.”

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  15. In all seriousness, It is easy to just take the “consensus” best player available at 1-1. No one can blame a GM for that. Drafting Corea in ’12 was a huge risk that paid off big time. The Experts considered him a second tier talent. Luhnow gets a lot of credit for seeing him as top of the draft talent. He did however fail to see that Corea would eventually get hurt.

    Appel had a lot of question marks in the ’12 draft but went back to Stanford and, his present performance notwithstanding, put those concerns to rest. I can’t blame Luhnow for picking Appel.

    Even without an undersized UCL Aiken had about a 15% chance of doing anything worthwhile in MLB. In the absence of a decent college bat, the smart move was to try and get Aiken not to sign and take his chances in next year’s draft. Aiken wasn’t even going to be the best player in last year’s draft. 1-2 will have a better chance of helping more and sooner than Aiken, unless they take another high school pitcher.

    Oh, and by the way, there are some pretty good players in our system that were not 1-1 picks. The FO has done a pretty good job post round one.

    However, I will be overjoyed to hear that the Astros have hired a Director of Bull Pen Putting Together…er. I see that as Luhnow’s greatest weakness.

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    • What are you talking about Flash? The Astros have a great bullpen. It’s located just beyond the fence in right center field. It is always well kept, pleasing to the eye, and spacious. The communication system works, and the benches are as comfortable as any in the league.

      Now, as for the hapless jaybirds that I sometimes spot sitting out there on the benches during the ballgames, well let me just say that it sometimes it seems we need another Buck-Cannon or two to help Mr. Crane make enough funny money to actually buy some talent. And while it is true that we would all probably feel better if we started to measure our Fields by Veras, sometimes when I see Porter dial the bullpen phone . . . well, it really starts to get me Downs. Occasionally it even gives me the Qualls. So I have made a decision – I am not going to let myself get worked up any more about all the Folty late inning pitching performances. Every time I start to get a litte, I am just going to put my Albers on the table, Crain my neck to try to see the coming glory of 2017, offer a little Clemensy to the Loon-Owl, and then just sit back and enjoy a great big Sipp.

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    • That is an excellent point about the talent in the system that was not 1-1. You can’t turn around a farm system by just being successful with 1-1 picks. We have some solid prospects that were drafted in later rounds.

      My biggest issue with Luhnow is the tandem system. I am not a fan of it, but I understand why he is doing it. We have more SPs than we have rotation spots available.

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      • Whatever you think about the tandem, they likely would not have discovered Buchanan and Shirley as starters without it.

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  16. I’ll just say that I fall for the most part into the OldPro side of the house. Without going into detail, I’ll also say that I have a friend within the organization that is present in all of the draft scenarios. While it is stated by the FO that the scouting side has as much input as the metric side, he states that so far the metric guys have gotten 100% of the choices. It has not been stated, but I would guess that most of the scouting guys don’t cross the metric opinions. I was also told that Luhnow had been given 3 years to turn the MLB team around. We’ll see what happens. If I was Crane, I doubt I would make a change because of the upheaval it would cause. We should also remember that Luhnow was praised for his work in the Cardinal organization but he never had the final say in their draft day. As for the farm system, with three straight 1-1 choices, I find it disquieting that our system is currently ranked as third best instead of the best. It also speaks volumes that the highlight of our season seems to have become draft day instead of the hectic last days of the season. While I err to the more traditional side of baseball, I do believe the sabrmetric guys have a valuable contribution to make, I just don’t find myself being as sexually aroused by metrics as the guys on another site. They seem to believe the process is more important than the scoreboard. For the third year in a row, I now find myself no longer listening to the games but simply checking the box score in the morning. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you on a lot of what you say Ted – though this is the first time in 3 seasons that I have big interest in watching certain players play – Altuve, Springer, Singleton (even with his poor BA to date), Keuchel, Oberholtzer, and Foltynewicz all have my attention when they play. I know it is not enough – but it is better than some of what they were rolling out last season.

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    • I liked what you said because of the information you brought to the conversation. I have no inside info but I have been a student of baseball and Astros baseball in particular for 55 years. I have been in lots of dugouts and pay particular attention to the ebb and flow of the team from day to day and heard and read tens of thousands of pregame interviews, postgame interviews, postseason interviews, preseason interviews. After a while, a person who listens, can figure out what players are feeling by what they say and tweet and what questions they refuse to answer, too.
      When a player speaks crap in response to a question, you can hear his answer, even when he doesn’t say anything. I made it my business in the business world in figuring out what a person was going to do and what they were thinking, by listening to what they said. I was right almost all the time.
      Baseball has always been about money, but for three-fourths of baseball history, that money was always in the owner’s hands. Now it’s in the hands of everyone who is involved in the majors. and the top 20 players and coaches in college ball.

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    • When it comes to how they lean – I think its obvious they lean towards the sabermetrics. The proof is on the current team. OldPro consistently asks what is Krauss doing here – he has failed to produce.

      Luhnow, if he cared to answer, would point out that the sabermetrics point out that he has a better than not chance of producing in the future. GM’s 15 or 20 years ago would have already shuffled Carter, Grossman, Krauss, etc., out of town. They keep getting opportunities in Houston because Luhnow’s brain trust is convinced that long term evaluation of statistics is a better predicator of future performance than the last 200 plate appearances in the majors, so Krauss can hit .190 over 150 appearances, and still get opportunity.

      I personally lean towards the saber guys, but I think its a cloudy area. Its starting to pay off some in the case of all 3. Carrying all 3 has also cost you a lot of games to this point though, but thats 20/20 hindsight.

      Longterm Luhnow’s braintrust is going to have to do a better job at figuring out what guys are going to turn into Bryan LaHair and which ones can turn into major leaguers, preferably without trotting them out there 250 times as a minimum.

      As far as Luhnow’s performance, for every Aiken there is a Correa, for every Feldman there is a Keuchel that he kept around, for every Pena there is a Fowler. He has made some good deals, and some not so good. Saying Happ has outperformed what we got back is iffy giving that I don’t think we cared to have Happ be a sub .500 guy with a mid 4 ERA for the money he was going to make – while he continued to block opportunity. Keuchel may still be an unknown if Happ was still here. Sometimes deals can’t be evaluated strictly on who you gave up to get who.

      I haven’t been happy about the picks – I think I made it known before the draft last year I would have stayed away from Appel, and would have defaulted to Gray – but Bryant was certainly an argument. Overall though, it is the depth of the draft class that matters, not particularly the first round pick, its fairly common for first rounders to flop. The list of 1.1s for the last 20 years is some very good players like Price, and some Matt Bush’s, and some in between. It’s way too early to evaluate his classes for 2013 and 2014. 2012 is well received so far, but still no impact at the major league level.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Summertime is tough when your baseball team stinks and we go to watch simply for personal performances. Its also tough when your team really has only one reliable top tier player and Luhnow had little or nothing to do with Altuve’s ascension. The underlying flaw of the Astros is that they are sorely under-capitalized and I think Crane saw that the ONLY way he could ever have a contender was through starting from scratch. Luhnow had a plan that would at least give the Astros a chance albeit a slim one. Perhaps going the way of the draft instead of buying free agents and assuring mediocrity was and is the direction Crane chooses to go. He may actually be forced to do so until and if he starts getting some significant TV revenue. Where I will give Luhnow some credit is in acquiring a lot of prospect currency. How well he spends it will really be his legacy. He spent Lyles and Barnes for Fowler. I’m OK with that. He spent Cosart and Hernandez for Marisnick and Moran. I’m OK with that. He has stayed with Carter and it seems that Carter is helping finally although I do agree that a steady SS like Lowrie has turned out to be is more valuable than a DH.

    The Astros are doing something never before tried in baseball history. It has and is ruffling feathers. One place where I think the plan is seriously flawed is when it ties promotion to the big league club for the legitimate potential stars to their willingness to sign club friendly contracts. THAT smells really bad of bad faith penny pinching. I’m also trending against the tandem pitching system. Perhaps a good idea for the first six weeks of the season to let arms warm up and strengthen but no more after that.

    I equate this whole process to a difficult and high risk pregnancy. We’re past mid-term and there is little immediate hope and lots of pain. Do we abort and start all over or tough it out and hope the baby turns out fine? I wish there was a clear cut answer but for now I’m still on the side of staying the course.

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    • It is a common misconception that Lowrie is a good SS. His wRC+ is 92, bottom half of the league, and worse than Marwin. He had a good year last year, but this year he would be taking up a valuable roster spot.

      Chris Carter on the other hand is at 124 and has yet to reach double digits in three years as a MLer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Building through the farm is the only way to win a championship. Sure, you may use the Yankees as an example, but I would argue that A) – its obvious the Astros can’t buy A-Rod, Sabathia, Tex, Tanaka, etc., at 20 mil a year each, and B) – even the Yankees haven’t won since the last time they were built around a group of Yankee farmhands named Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, etc. with the expensive FA’s mixed in. Thats why the plan is/was so widely accepted as a good start with numerous articles calling the blow up plan courageous and dozens of GM’s saying they wish they were allowed to try it.

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  18. Dr. OK/OldPro was on the money with the extended time that Springer will be out of the lineup. Hate to see him miss anymore time.

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  19. Well if Carter has not figured it out – he sure is fooling me. Launched two dingers tonight with 5 ribbies.
    To paraphrase Rex Harrison, “By George, I think he’s got it!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t look now, but freakin’ Chris Carter is 3 HR’s off the major league lead. Is it possible the Astros could end up with the batting champ and the home run champ? Yes it is! Believe Altuve and Carter could end up in a dead heat for most improved as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. The intangibles that oldpro made note of earlier today deserve further mention. Why does a guy like Cosart go out and throw seven dominant three hit shutout innings for his new team, an effort he did not manage all season for our club? Maybe it’s a one off, but I doubt it. J.D. Martinez makes me think otherwise. There are other examples. To me it comes down to leadership at all levels. My 94 year old father, who only watches on television these days, continues to insist that our guys do not act like major leaguers in the dugout, much less on the field. We simply do not run our organization as well as most in our industry. Who eventually must take the responsibility? Rarely is it the owner.

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    • In my opinion addressing one great start for Cosart, but failing to mention how quickly Marisnick and McHugh has turned it around since they got here is short-sighted. On one hand, you are indicating our ‘toxic’ clubhouse might be the reason Cosart and JDM have done well elsewhere, but no menion of Marisnick or McHugh’s success here. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

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      • Tim, of course you make a fair point. I consider McHugh a real win by Luhnow. The guy has excellent movement on his pitches and seems to have figured things out. Marisnick, well, too small a sampling to date.

        My point was simply that Cosart has given up 7 hits in his last two starts, and to my recollection, had not gone 7 shutout innings on the season until last night. So why all of a sudden the effectiveness? I don’t know, but it’s worth considering. I hated to lose a 24 year old arm as good as Cosart after just 30 starts. Is our organization doing a good enough job in handling its human resources in general? That’s my question.

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    • Dan I don’t necessarily want to be part of the group that has gone after you this morning, but I think JD Martinez is just finding himself in 2013 Jason Castroland.
      You see, I kept waiting for Castro to return to last year, but Castro’s BABIP last year was way above norm for him and for baseball. This year his BABIP is back near where it has been for the majority of his career and there probably isn’t going to be another 2013 for him.
      Ironically, Martinez’s BABIP sits right now where Castro’s did for last year, .351, so it is reasonable to think that this is Martinez’s Castro Season and that he will eventually fall to his norm or, if he has really found his swing, something feasibly above his norm.

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  21. I nominate every one of you guys to fill the GM’s shoes when (or if) Luhnow is ever fired. Got news for you……….he ain’t going any where, any time soon. The
    difference in our other GM’s who were fired, is ALL the guys in the current FO, are
    ALL Luhnow guys. Remember when Ed Wade was let go….it was the *idiot*
    Tal Smith that had Drayton’s ear. I wouldn’t quit my day job’s if I were you! Jeff Luhnow knows a HE!! of a lot more about baseball than I do……but it’s been fun reading all the comments you have posted! Maybe Chip should forward them on to Luhnow so he can work on “fixing” this team! Since I can’t see the guys, and after 8:25P.M. the radio signal goes out, I had to depend on the stupid computer, but
    DAAAAAANG, these guys were ON tonight! I’m going to go see my favorite pitcher
    tomorrow, and I hope Carter has saved a HR or two for tomorrow!!

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    • Wandy is pitching somewhere tonight?

      Fwiw, Luhnow has far more information than we do. I wouldn’t discount the idea that we know (or recognize) something he does not, but will concede my opinions come mainly as knee jerk reactions and are based off only scratching the surface of performance result analysis. It is important, however, for the number crunchers to remember their algorithms may be biased without cause. It is nearly impossible to associate all the context of a past event to predict future performance. For example, earlier in the year I saw Adrian Gonzalez drop down a bunt to beat the shift against the Cardinals. The significance in the game was big – a man had been on first with no outs in a scoreless game, and now it was first and second with no outs. They ended up having a really good inning, if I recall. When the Astros and Dodgers meet in the world series next year, Puig is standing on first base in a tie game with no outs, and AG comes to the plate, will No Porter send Moran to the right side of the diamond or keep him home with memory that smart hitters will take advantage in a big moment?

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      • Just like a pitcher will “waste” a pitch to set up another, teams should go against the shift to make defenses adjust. Unfortunately, teams (the Astros) seem to keep hitting directly into the shift in hopes of just hitting it over the shift.

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    • He has moments where he feels the heat and tension when the team is doing bad. Sleepless nights, he gets worried just like anyone else would. But he’s always a professional, keeps it together and tries to find a solution. I’ll send him a link for the comments section I’m sure he would find humor or get annoyed lol

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  22. There you have it, sports fans. “Glass half-empty” Guy and “Glass half-full” Guy have perished in a train wreck at Union Station. Rising up in their place all we seem to have is “Alice Through the Looking Glass” Guy and “Glass Shattered beyond Superglue’s Capacity to Repair It” Guy. But I hear Blondie [Becky?] singing:

    Once I had a team and it was a gas
    Soon turned out had a broken glass
    Seemed like the real thing, only to find
    Luhnow’s a bust – Kick his behind.

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  23. I got a winner in you
    No way I can lose
    A team I can hold on to
    I got a winner in you

    That’s got a little country flavor that we can sit back and listen to while we wait and wait.

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    • Well, of course, in Texas, the Gentle Giant rules. So how about this:
      “You know I got Jake and a mystery or two
      for a Kike, a Wates and a dude;
      So, look at me now and tell me true don’t I look like a daddy to you?
      Oh, don’t I look like a daddy to you?

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  24. Lol!@lunhole ah that’s funny. He would either get pissed or find humor in what you guys have to say. He also agrees with some of it I’m sure. The comments section are always my favorite.

    Like

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