Back in the 1980s I was forced by the Houston economy to uproot my family and take them to Arkansas for seven years. It was a lovely place with great people, who had one really touchy spot to be aware of during conversations…..Arkansas Razorback sports. One day I opined that the Razorback basketball team would never win the national championship with Eddie Sutton as coach. I was immediately and viciously attacked even though I had very logical reasons for feeling this way. Eddie was a very good basketball coach, who had very talented and good teams, but he always seemed to be trying to rein the kids in at crucial times and they ended up playing too many 62-59 games in the NCAAs and would inevitably lose one of them. It was left up to Nolan Richardson to finally take the Hogs to the Championship.
You see this often in sports. Look at someone like Dusty Baker. He’s had four stops as a manager (Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nats) and has a .540 winning record overall. Each team has had some very good years under him and eight total playoff appearances. But his teams always seem to fall short.
Heck, look at Oakland’s GM/Executive President Billy Beane. He is the only GM in the history of sports to be the focal point of a major movie and be played by Brad Pitt to boot. But for all his innovation and his team’s eight playoff appearances under his watch, they have never won the big one. Of course, that may have as much to do with an old facility and cheap ownership, but it is also true that he has made his team better at times without making his team best.
And this brings us around to the Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. It was one thing when it was some of the fans and media question his ability to clinch the deal with the best Astros baseball team since 1998 (or ever) by failing to bolster the pitching staff at the trade deadline. But now with the public proclamations of disappointment from both Dallas Keuchel and Josh Reddick, it is obvious that the players and perhaps even the manager A.J. Hinch are not happy with the head nerd of the front office and whether he has their back vs. cherishing the menagerie of prospects he has collected over time.
Luhnow’s time has been a Dickensian best of times, worst of times and people’s judgment of his work is just as wide spread.
- “He’s done a great job of bringing the team back from the depths of Hell.”
- “He helped shove them to the depths of Hell with his General Sherman scorched earth policy.”
- “His Carlos Correa/Lance McCullers Jr. draft and signing exacta was brilliant.”
- “His Mark Appel and Brady Aiken draft picks may have been two of the worst overall number one picks of the last 20 years.”
- “But Aiken turned into Alex Bregman…..”
- “But Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez turned into Francisco Liriano, who feels like he has put up a -3.0 WAR in three appearances.”
- “He brilliantly added Collin McHugh, Will Harris, and Marwin Gonzalez for practically nothing.”
- ” His trades for Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez were fails.”
- “But he also went out and got veteran leadership in Reddick, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran.”
- “He shielded too many prospects at the trade deadline and did not shore up a team at a time their competitors were all getting better.”
- “The story has not played out. We do not know how Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., Will Harris, George Springer and Carlos Correa will be playing when the playoffs come around.”
So, riddle me this my good friends of the blog.
Can the Astros win the World Series with Jeff Luhnow as the GM? No other question matters.