Here at the Chipalatta Center for Advanced Storytelling Technology, we’re on the forefront of the next generation of narrative devices. Today, we will be testing our latest device, officially known as the Third-Person Omniscient Technology. The TPOT (or TeaPOT as we call it) is a micro drone in the shape of a housefly that can read any situation and transmit a perfect third-person omniscient text of the scene and character interactions.
This week our good friend Dan P is on a special assignment, his latest post written before he was taken away … I mean left, voluntarily. Well, to find out what Dan is doing, let’s take the TeaPOT for a spin. Using the TeaPOT’s patented (pending) Integrated Brainwave Geolocator, the fly on the wall can find Dan and zero in on his whereabouts. So sit back, pull up Chipalatta on the old laptop and read the tale – courtesy of the TeaPOT and the Chipalatta Center for Advanced Storytelling Technology.
From The TeaPOT:
The lane from the iron gate to the old house on the hill is lined with overhanging oak trees, providing a claustrophobic view of the road and the approaching abode. Between the high climb of the steps and the bars on the windows, the old home screams “get out.” Or maybe it’s saying “stay inside” to those within. And maybe those screams are real.
Over the door in faded brickyard red a sign reads, “Astroholics Asylum,” and in permanent marker underneath – in Bopert’s deft hand – are the words “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter.”
One upper room of the home, strangely, has no bars. Its open window seems almost inviting as does the soft, black leather sofa that fills half the room alongside a mahogany desk and thick leather chair. From the small speaker box on the desk, a voice chimes in. “Your next patient to see you, Doctor.”
A hand emerges from the depths of the leather chair, pressing a button on the box. “Send him in,” says a voice that sounds vaguely German and from Mexico City all at once.
After a moment, the door opens. In walks Dan, his haunted eyes darting about the room. “Is he here?” asks Dan. “Can I really meet the ‘Toy Cannon?’”
Leaning forward, the doctor laughs. “Oh, no, we just said that to get you from your cell.”
“You lied to me?” says Dan. “Who are you?”
The doctor leans back into the chair. “I am Doctor Emil Schaffhausen,” he says. “I am zee one whom zey call for zee spezial cazes.”
“Doctor Schaffhausen?” Dan asks.
“Zee third,” says the doctor. “Now let us talk about what is troubling you. It is your trust issues, correct?”
“Yeah, I just don’t know if I can trust him.”
“Luhnow. I mean he has this plan, and we’re all supposed to trust it. But when does it go from the ‘We’re starting over’ part to the ‘Now we’re trying to win’ part?” asks Dan, tears glistening in his eyes.
“And you used to trust zis plan?”
“Sure,” says Dan. “We all did. Or we all tried to. I mean was there another choice.”
“And you were happy zen?”
“Tell me, Herr Peschong, what was zee low point for you?”
“Oddly, it came right after a high point. You know, we’d already lost Berkman and Oswalt, and trading Carlos Lee was a good thing. I mean who thought we’d get anything other than a bucket of spit for a couple of overpriced months at the end of El Guapo’s career?”
“But then your faith started to fade, right?”
Dan runs his hand through his hair, theb nibbles on a fingernail. “Yeah. I mean I don’t think anyone was crying when J.A. Happ and a couple of relievers left. And we supposedly got some good prospects. But then it was Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez for guys no one had ever heard of. And Chris Johnson to the D-Backs.”
“Zis vas all part of zee plan, though. Zee team needed a rebuild.”
“But what did Houston get for some solid guys? Guys we could have used? Wilton Lopez goes to the Rockies, and our big piece is Alex White, who can’t stay healthy. And for all the trades before that, we got Robbie Grossman, Matt Dominguez and Marc Krauss. The trades that actually netted anyone were Ed Wade’s. So how can I trust the Luhnow Plan?”
Dan lays down on the soft leather sofa, staring at the ceiling fan that gently swirls overhear. “How were we supposed to win?” Dan asks. “I mean, I’m a fan. I try to be patient, but our big offseason signing for 2013 are guys like Carlos Pena and Jose Veras. We fans are supposed to get excited about a washed up Rick Ankiel and Erik Bedard. Then we trade Jed Lowrie with no real shortstop in the wings.”
“Zee trade, though, it vas good?”
“Zen zis vas good?”
“Well, we went from Ronny Cedeno to Jonathan Villar at short, so ask Becky what she thought of the move. Meanwhile, we cut Ankiel. We released Cedeno. And the best free agent signing, Veras, went to Detroit for more prospects. I mean, how many prospects do we need? You want me to have faith. But all we have is prospects.”
“Zere is still a team, though. A team to root for?”
Dan gives a weak chuckle. “Luhnow trades everyone. Even mediocre players. Justin Maxwell gets traded to the Royals for a minor league pitcher. Bud Norris goes to Baltimore for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader and draft pick.”
Schaffhausen scribbles a few words on his notepad. “Zis is about zee future, though.”
“When does that future become now?” Dan asks. He sits up straight on the couch. “I mean next we’re trading Jordan Lyles. I thought he was supposed to be part of the future.”
“You don’t like Dexter Fowler?”
“Sure I do,” Dan says, practically screaming. “But is he part of the future? Even now, he’s trade bait. So where am I supposed to put that faith?”
“And how did that work out?”
“He picked up Collin McHugh.”
“Luck. I have no faith in luck. He also signed Jerome Williams. And he released J.D. Martinez,” Dan says. He puts his head in his hands, muffled sobs can be heard. “The last straw Cosart. We got a defensive center fielder and a prospect at third base.”
“But zey are zee future, no?”
“I don’t know,” Dan cries. “I’m just losing faith. I feel like OldPro or some Chronicle commenter.” Dan spits.
“Maybe you should read zee Crawfish Boxes,” Schaffhausen says. “Zeir faith is unswerving.”
“Look, Doc, I’m a Chipalatta guy. And Luhnow needs to earn my faith.”
“I just don’t know. I mean, I think I just want to be at the next stage of the plan. I want this team to be respectable. I want to win.”
Doctor Schaffhausen stands from his chair. “And zee Astros will win.”
“This year?” asks Dan.
“I cannot zee zee future, Herr Peschong,” Schaffhausen says. “But if you have zee faith, it vill come.”
Suddenly, Schaffhausen, his back to his patient, removes his glasses and with them his fake mustache. “Oh, look,” he says, readying his notepad to swing at something. “Zere is zee fly on zee wall.”
And with that –
So, here are some therapy questions to consider:
- Have you had faith in the Luhnow Plan?
- Is 2015 the year for a new phase in the Plan, or will the Astros continue to sell off pieces such as Jason Castro and Dexter Fowler? Are there other pieces that could be on the auction block?
- If Luhnow trades for major leaguers rather than prospects, does that signal a big shift in the Plan?
- A lot can happen between Opening Day and the end of September. Luhnow could put together a winner only to see George Springer dinged up again or Jose Altuve pull a muscle and be out a month. If the roster on April 6 is good, will you give Luhnow a pass for 2015?
- How many wins does it take to restore your faith in zee, I mean the, Plan?
- So far this winter, Luhnow has made significant upgrades to the bullpen and it looks like he’s solved Houston’s sticky third base situation by signing Lowrie. What other additions do the Astros need?
- After signing Lowrie, there’s still about $5 million or so to be spent. And this is without trading Fowler (another $9 million) or Castro (about $4 million). What should the Astros target next? A starter? Another outfielder?