2011 Organizational Rankings: #30 – Houston

Sorry, Astros fans – for the second year in a row, your team is bringing up the rear.

Present Talent – 65.00 (30th)

Astros Season Preview

Future Talent – 65.00 (30th)

Astros Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 72.69 (23rd)
Baseball Operations – 62.50 (30th)

Overall Rating – 66.68 (30th)

Things aren’t going very well down in Houston. In addition to having both the worst rated major league roster and the bleakest future outlook in terms of talent, the Astros also scored the lowest grade of any baseball operations department, and were in the bottom tier of teams in terms of financial resources. There isn’t just one glaring problem here – it’s a collection of wide-ranging issues that harm the team’s chances of winning now or any time in the foreseeable future.

Put simply, it’s hard to find too many things to be optimistic about. Their best asset is probably the somewhat generous payrolls that Drayton McLane has funded, but even that strength is hampered by low quality contracts that are eating away at the team’s effective payroll for the next several years. For instance, they’re paying Roy Oswalt $7 million this year to pitch for the Phillies, and Carlos Lee is earning $19 million in the hopes that he might return to being an average player. That’s $26 million that is basically wasted money off their 2011 payroll, so their actual amount of money to build value with is smaller than it might appear on the surface.

Going forward, things aren’t going to get a whole lot better. Lee’s contract expires at the end of next season, but a good chunk of that money will simply need to be reallocated to Hunter Pence to keep him around as he gets expensive in his final two arbitration seasons. The Astros simply don’t have much in the way of cost-controlled young talent to build around, as the roster is mostly filled with aging expensive players, and the building blocks they do have are all getting to the point where their contracts are nearing market value.

If the Astros had demonstrated organizational strengths that allowed them to bring in young, cheap talent to surround guys like Pence and Wandy Rodriguez, there would be some reasons for optimism. Instead, however, the plan has been (and continues to be) to use resources on guys like Clint Barmes, Bill Hall, and Brandon Lyon, all of whom could be useful role players to a contender but serve to offer no real long term value to Houston as they try and rebuild. The team has revamped their scouting department after years of not investing in the draft, and while that could pay off long term, the help won’t come any time soon.

You don’t have to be a sabermetric-leaning organization to win baseball games or grade out well in these rankings. The Twins, Braves, and Angels have all created consistent winners without heavy integration with the kinds of things that we talk about a lot around here, and they’ve all gained the respect of their opponents with their abilities to scout and develop talent. The Astros, however, have turned a blind-eye to many of the advances in analyzing the game while simultaneously failing at the traditional parts as well.

The organization just needs significant changes. With Drayton McLane putting the team up for sale, perhaps there is hope that new ownership can provide a new direction and eventually get this team back on course. However, with the pace of ownership transfers in MLB and the significant amount of work to be done by whoever takes over, this will not be a quick fix. There are long-standing problems in place that can’t be patched over, and it will likely take a total overhaul to get things back on track in Houston.

If there is good news, it’s likely that things have reached a point where these problems can no longer be ignored. The Astros have averaged 75 wins per year the last two seasons, and they’ll probably be lucky to match that number this season. Consistent irrelevance in the NL Central will likely be enough to force the changes that are long overdue in Houston. Sometimes, it’s necessary to hit rock bottom. The Astros are pretty close to that now, so there’s only one way to go from here. It’s just going to be a long, slow climb to the top.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

76 Responses to “2011 Organizational Rankings: #30 – Houston”

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  1. Brad Johnson says:

    ” like Clint Barmes, Bill Hall, and Brandon Lyon,”

    Two words, one name:

    Ed Wade

    This isn’t a new behavior, he’s the master at acquiring wily veteran scabs while never actually acquiring the solution to the injury.

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    • fredsbank says:

      while clint barmes may technically speaking be a veteran, there is no one who thinks he’s wily or, you know, useful

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      • brendan says:

        not true! he’d make a great utility infielder – good glove at SS and 2B, with a bat that would compare favorable to other utility guys.

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  2. ThundaPC says:

    Easiest call of the whole list. I feel a little for Astros fans.

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  3. Oscar says:

    Hard to argue with this one.

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  4. Brad Johnson says:

    Thankfully for Astros fans, they probably like football more than baseball anyway.

    O wait…

    The Rangers aren’t TOO far at least…

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  5. JBrown says:

    But hey, they have Ryan Rowland-Smith. The only guy in MLB with a hyphenated name!

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  6. chris says:

    Do you think Lee hangs on for another contract or does he just retire after the season? Clearly he can’t play the field anymore so he’s going to have to DH somewhere

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  7. Will says:

    OK, I’ll quibble…

    The financial resources ranking here still seems a little low. Houston is a gigantic market, with a newish park, and a long track record of decent attendance and highish payrolls. Not saying they are the Yankees or even the Cubs, but 23rd seems low to me.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      I think that rating reflects the $26 million in mostly dead salary they’re spreading between Lee and Oswalt.

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      • Will says:

        But, in the long-term, that’s really not much. Lee’s contract sucks, no doubt, but it’s not so bad, or so long-lasting anymore, to make a huge impact.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        $26 mil is a lot, even to the Yankees. Give the Astros half that money back and they can go over slot on every high upside prospect with signability concerns in the draft and still bid on a top international guy.

        As it stands, with the shaky ownership situation, the Astros will probably stick to slot on most picks, avoiding some signability concerns. And we don’t know if overslots will be an option after the upcoming draft.

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    • Ben says:

      More than likely that reflects the fact that the Astros do not have a longterm TV deal, the Ranger’s have FSN to their own now once the current deal runs out, and the proposed joint RSN wit the Rockets have been slow to materialize…

      No guaranteed projectable TV revenue in a non-baseball market with a bloated payroll is going to hamper the over financial picture for the Astros

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      • Will says:

        These are all fair and relevant points. But there is bloated and then there is bloated. The only guys they have under guaranteed contracts for 2012 are Lee, Wandy, Myers, Lyon.

        Yea, it sucks that Brandon Lyon will make 5 million in 2012, but in the grand scheme of things, its not much.

        I’m also not sure it’s completely fine to say, “but any of that money they could be spending on draft picks, etc.” Of course, in some sense, that IS true. However, for whatever reason, almost every team views their major league and development budgets as completely separate. This is similar to how we always clamour for teams to spend nothing in Year X, so they can spend it all in Year X+2. And most teams simply do not operate in that way.

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  8. Big Jgke says:

    The sad thing is that even as the worst team on this list, they are more likely to make the playoffs in the next 5 years than either Toronto or Baltimore, two teams with much more potential, simply because of league and divisional strength.

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  9. Rob says:

    Then again, the “brilliant” Dave Cameron ranked the Giants in his bottom 20 last year.

    But as they say, Fangraphs iz never wrong, yo.

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    • Anon21 says:

      You don’t mean bottom 20. I mean, it’s true, but trivial. Bottom 20 extends all the way up to #11.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      A) Yes. We all say that Fangraphs is never wrong. No one ever argues on this site, and we all sit in our mom’s basement +1-ing everything Dave Cameron says.

      B) That was probably a low ranking, given the major league talent on hand and their ability to make the playoffs, but the Giants are generally a poorly run franchise with the quite notable exception of developing young pitching. Winning the world series was a function of remarkable health and fortunate offensive performances. Although you could of course argue it was merely astute pickups, if you look at Sabean’s record of talent acquisition (thus excluding his office’s EXCELLENT development record), it’s pretty terrible.

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      • Nate says:

        These are organizational rankings, not GM ones. Given that no GM operates with deity like powers over a game club, that approach makes sense.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Which approach? Also, yeah, I wasn’t assuming that Sabean is the only guy making decisions, although it’s tough to tell whether people who talk as I just did are using the GM’s name as a shorthand for their FO or are truly assuming that. I should properly have said “the Giants FO” instead.

        Unless I’m misreading the thread and you weren’t even responding to me!

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Sabean’s bad acquisitions stick out in people’s minds because they are pretty spectacular failures, but he’s had a lot of good ones too: Jeff Kent, JT Snow, Robb Nen, Jason Schmidt and others in the past. Then there’s the pitching that almost everyone now acknowledges is pretty darn important to their success. He also made several very shrewd pickups last year.

        In 13 years as GM, Brian Sabean has had 9 winning seasons including 1 WS Championship, 2 NL Pennants, 4 NL West Championships and 6 playoff appearances. You don’t do that by being a terrible acquirer of talent.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        DrBGF … I would also consider the GMs of PHL and LAA.

        Both of whom are often mocked, but whose teams continue to be very good. Certainly the LAA have dropped a notch, but they also have Bourjos (Did I spell his name right this time?) and Trout coming, and Morales returning. With haren and Weaver in the rotation … that’s pretty solid, especially in a division where the other teams have potential glaring issues.

        I’m not saying they should be elevated to an elite status, and I don;t offer a better way to evaluate GMs … it just seems weird to mock GMs of teams that are consistently successful.

        This would be a non-issue with me if the site’s stance was that GM/FO quality was not all that important, but the site ranks it at 25% in its weighting. Given their team’s success and the ultimate goal of baseball, considering their environments, both teams have kicked some butt.

        Does anyone really think that SFG and PHL are going to significantly drop off over the next 3-5 years?

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      • BlackOps says:

        He also had the best player in three generations on his team and couldn’t fill the team with enough mediocre talent to win a world series. I have no idea how you could view those years as a success if you’re a Giants fan.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Then again, some people think the only thing they need to rank organizations is last year’s standings, since of course those are perfectly predictive of this coming season.

      Oh, wait . . .

      (But then, what else would you expect of people whose reading comprehension is so dim they still think Dave Cameron came up with last year’s rankings all by himself?)

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  10. Rob says:

    Then again, the “brilliant” Dave Cameron ranked the Giants in the 20′s last year.

    But as they say, fangraphs iz never wrong, yo.

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    • Brandon says:

      Of course, the Giants won the world series last year due to on-field talent, which is only a small fraction of his organizational rankings.

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      • Nick says:

        Well, they also porved Cameron wrong about their baseball operations, I’d say their financial resources are certainly top 10, and the minor league talent with Posey and Bumgarner in the minors before the year was quite good, top heavy, but still good.

        Lesson: Dave Cameron is sometimes right but his arrogance is why many people hate him.

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      • Luke in MN says:

        The Giants have a pretty bright present and future. It was a missed call. I wouldn’t flip out about it, but Fangraphs was wrong on that one and will be wrong again. (And I might even be wrong one of these days too).

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      • Nick says:

        I think what Rob is getting at is to take the rankings with a grain of salt. That’s the beauty of baseball and spring. You never know what will happen.

        As for Cameron, as I pointed out in my previous post, it’s the arrogance that turns many off. I’ve been wrong a lot in the past, but I also am willing to own up to it. I’ve yet to see Cameron or any fangraphs writer do that.

        As for the astros, I think they’re better than most think. They got some nice pitching prospects and a few pieces already on the big league squad. Plus, their division is so bad that I feel they’ll be ready to compete next year

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Two things.

        One: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-great-6org-discussion-part-4/

        Two: no one is obliged to agree with your assessment of how wrong they were, in what ways, and/or why.

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    • Seattleite says:

      There will always be outliers.

      If you run a simulation of the 2011 season a couple million times, even the Astros might win the WS one time.

      My point being, the Giants were the recipients of some pretty phenomenal luck last year. Maybe Cameron had them a little low… but at the heart of it, this is a team that had an incredibly lucky season in 2010. Put that together with some above average talent, and there you go.

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  11. Tim says:

    I agree with the Astros at 30, but I still think they could possibly be a surprise team and hang in the NL Central race a while.

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    • Jason B says:

      “they could possibly be a surprise team and hang in the NL Central race a while.”

      True – I bet by the end of the first week, they are no more than 2 games out. That’s right in the thick of things!!

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  12. Pat says:

    I could agree with the Astros being at the bottom because they are just such a stale organization, but I think Cleveland wouldn’t be too far behind either. Each of these teams seems to have found the perfect storm of suck, very few major league pieces, though the Indians prospects are better, their ML team is far worse, and it seems like all their signings backfire.

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    • Jimmy the Greek says:

      Cleveland will be over-rated because they have a “sabermetric-leaning” (Dave’s words) front office. Writers for these sites always love the Indians. Yet the Indians, since 2007, have been terrible, and other than Santana and Chisenhall, don’t show a whole lot of hope for the future.

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  13. drivlikejehu says:

    I also disagree with the financial ranking. It should be a separate issue from the fact the team stinks, while the contract dead weight is short-term. Houston is a great market, easily top 10, and McLane isn’t exactly poor. He has made bad decisions but those are ‘baseball operations’ issues.

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    • Nick says:

      Agreed. Not sure of the logic on that one.

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      • Kampfer says:

        Org ranking always demonstrates weird logic… As much as I agree that Astros is the worst org in the major, I would like to think the Astros’s front office is the major reason why they suck and will continue to suck in the near future.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Simple: *potential* financial resources /= *current actual* financial resources. The fact that the Astros could have a lot more money than they do doesn’t actually affect how much they have at the moment.

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    • Rob says:

      A team for sale often slashes payroll. And since sales can take years…

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    • nate says:

      The Indians have some younger, cost controlled above average starters. Not true with the astros.

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  14. JP says:

    I missed the bit where this article actually delved into a proper analysis of the organisation.

    Sigh.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I think this quote pretty much addresses the issue.

      In addition to having both the worst rated major league roster and the bleakest future outlook in terms of talent, the Astros also scored the lowest grade of any baseball operations department, and were in the bottom tier of teams in terms of financial resources.

      That’s nicer than I would have been. The Astros are pretty much horseshit (to use baseball vernacular) in every facet.

      I’m a closet Astros fan (Bob Knepper and Joe Sambito still rule), but this is bad. Not like “Royals bad”, but worse. I think the strongest defense of Houston might be “The Indians are just as crappy”, only the Indians have some young talent.

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  15. CircleChange11 says:

    What in the name of Jose Cruuuuuuuuuuz is going on with the Astros?

    It wasn’t that long ago that they went to the playoffs anually, and always seemed to have a “Colorado Rockie” type second half where they went from poor team to really good team?

    For the longest time JR Towles was their most promising prospect, but the hope was let out of the balloon quickly.

    Their top prospects project a “#3 starters”. I met Foltynewicz at Super Sectionals this year, and he is just a big kid. Big kid. I’m not sure there is potential to throw harder, but he certainly can refine/learn a breaking pitch, and the fastball-change combo is the most lethal (and healthy) in baseball.

    When one looks at how HOU can “get out of this whole”, there isn;t a clear answer. They’re going to either need 2-3 more years of really good drafting (really good), or acquire free agents … and at this point, they are competitive enough to just start signing good free agents, because you’d need to sign too many of them and they aren’t available.

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  16. nate says:

    I just left Houston. Bobo the clown (ed wade’s nickname from his chilly days) keeps on with the notion that they’ll compete this year. But, they don’t have 1 position player above average, and if any of the wandy, happ, myers combo is ineffective or hurt, this could be a historically bad club.

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    • erich1212 says:

      hunter pence–a nifty OFer with power/speed/defense–is the second best player in the OF. michael bourn has accumulated over eight war over the last two years. he’s fast and plays great defense.

      this isn’t an historically bad team absent historically bad luck.

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      • Jason B says:

        “this isn’t an historically bad team”

        Agreed – not historically bad by any stretch of the imagination. But let’s ask Chuck Barkley for an assessment:

        “Man, they is turrible.”

        Well said Chuck.

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  17. brad says:

    Hey Circle,

    There is no doubt that the organization is thin, and is far from its late 90′s/ early 2000′s farm strength. But if you are going to bash their current roster and immediate 2-3 year future, at least get the top prospect right. It’s not Folty, but most certainly Jordan Lyles. Last year Lyles went from A to AAA and will begin the season back there to polish up his secondary pitches. He finished the Spring with a 1.98 era and looks to project better than a 3.

    But let’s be honest, no one ever really likes/loves/ or even respects the Astros’ as an organization. Even in their more talented days with Oswalt and company, they were continually picked to finish behind the Cards, the Cubs, the Brewers, and even the Reds only to year-in and year-out out perform plenty of teams. World Series bound, absolutely not, but they will be mediocre and compete like usual and most likely finish 3rd/4th in the NL Central. To rank them below a hapless Pirates team that has failed to accomplish anything remotely smelling of success for umpteen years, and the Cubs who simply implode on a yearly basis and have already had scuffles before the season has even gotten underway, is laughable at best.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      If I called Folty their top prospect, I meant top draft pick. From what I have read and saw, he projects as a reliever (unless he makes serious advances on secondary pitches … which is possible).

      I was referring to their top minor league pitching talent projecting as “3rd starters”. That would be disheartening to me as a fan. You mention Lyle projects higher than that. If so, good for the Astros.

      I could agree with ranking them higher than PIT.

      To be honest, I greatly miss the StL-HOU rivalries of the late 90s, early 2000s. I’m still upset that StL pitched Ensberg on the inner half, and he killed us … and then the ChiSox pitched him away and nullified him. To me, that was the diff between winning/losing that series … and well, beating Oswalt is never easy.

      I say bring back the orange hats with the blue star.

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      • brad says:

        Oh Ensberg, I felt as though he conceited two strikes every at bat via his opened stance. All it took was an outside slider or curve to watch him take a monster hack at and whiff. It was funny it took until the World Series for someone to figure out he wouldn’t square up until his 0-2 count.

        Those StL-Hou series were great, and both teams always kept it classy. Add in the bonus that it usually was associated with a Cubs collapse/misfortune and it ended up being a great year in the NL Central. The year we lost to you guys was a World Series caliber NL Championship the way the two squads battled it. Responding walk-off homers, some of the most zoned in hitting I’ve ever seen.You guys had Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and company vs a still healthy Bagwell, Biggio, Beltran, Berkman…Just absolute fun to watch. Followed by the next year which resulted in an absolute pitching clinic between the two teams. Hard to beat that rivalry there.

        As for Folty, he is up and down within the organization as to what he can pan out at. It absolutely depends on his development of his secondary pitches, but that basically describes every minor league pitcher. But there are a handful of lower tier guys that could end up surprising. Bushue and Velasquez are two guys to keep an eye on. We got spoiled with the homegrown talent at the caliber of Oswalt. It’s like being a Rockets fan and complaining about Yao being injured and only an All-Star instead of a Hall-of-Famer when he was preceded by Hakeem and Moses Malone to anchor the Center position. You get spoiled over time as fans. But Lyles actually is a must watch in the minors. 20 years old and MLB ready already. The only reason he’s not up currently is: a) why start the arbitration clock already when its not a play-off run year for us, and b) let him work on his off speed stuff in the meantime against an easier level of competition and build his secondary pitches with less pressure on him and his arm.

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  18. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I agree with the ranking but I’m thinking Ed Wade might not be as bad as he’s being made out to be. I could be wrong here, but didn’t he draft the core of the Phillies current team? He’s a scouting/drafting GM as opposed to a trading/FA signing GM or a “Sabermetric” GM. You have be patient with these guys but if they have an owner who is, they eventually produce very strong farm systems. Dayton Moore in KC, another favorite whipping boy of fangraphs.com, is a good comp.

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  19. CircleChange11 says:

    More about Folty … As we were cleaning out our dugout following a loss, his team was coming in.

    In an event where there were good pitchers throwing 86-90 all over the place, he stood out. Everyone heard rumblings of a 1st round pick in out midst. Even the most casual fan could of walked into the ballpark and said “It’s him”.

    Big kid. My dad was talking to his dad, and from what I gather was that he was all set to go to Texas, and only a first-round draft pick would make him change his mind.

    I hope he makes it. I was thrilled to hear that a prep star throwing mid 90s featured a change-up. Smart. I use that as a coaching point. It won’t be that difficult for him to learn a cutter/slider. From what I understand, he has good control and command.

    It just bothered me some that a first round pick would have “reliever” attached to his name after just one season, but that could just be this article. And reliever could also mean “closer”.

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  20. CircleChange11 says:

    Brad, I agree about rivalry. IMO, it’s one of the factors that played into Berkman coming to StL. Perhaps no other team is aware of what he can do. The question is whether he can still do it.

    The most amazing thing to me about the games between StL-HOU was Lidge’s dominance. For 17 consecutive IP, Lidge either held the Cards scoreless or gutless (can’t remember which) and then Pujols hit that ball to Oklahoma (can still see Pettitte mouthing the words “Oh My God”). … Then the wheels came off the Lidge train. Scott Posednik for crying out loud.

    2005 WS, every game decided after the 7th inning. An under-apprecited series, IMO.

    Back to our regularly scheduled program.

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  21. boxx says:

    Erich1212- I agree 100%. This is not a team on the verge of 100 loss disaster. Their rotation alone gives them a reasonable shot of finishing around .500, provided that Bourn and Pence have good years. Is this a team that figures to contend? No, but at least the Astros and their fans have a glimmer of hope if EVERYTHING brakes right this year. That’s more than the fans in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington (to name 3) have going for them

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    • Jason B says:

      “Their rotation alone gives them a reasonable shot of finishing around .500″

      Does it? Wandy is useful, but is probably in the 20-30 percentile of #1 starters. Brett Myers is useful, but is probably in the 30-40 percentile of #2 starters. Beyond that they have…Bud Norris? Yeah we’ve been waiting for that breakout for a while. JA Happ? Nelson Figueroa? Jose Lima?

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    • erich1212 says:

      agreed. that’s the double edged sword though. having horrendous present talent might lead to a faster/more V-shaped recovery to the playoffs.

      having said that…the meddling owner aside…do we as a community really think that houston is clueless when it comes to future talent evaluation/acquisition? has he done well for himself in trades? yeah. was he a key part of the turnaround/good drafts in philadelphia? yeah. has he already improved the houston farm system? yeah. look, he’s rightly criticized for some his FA choices, like the brandon lyon deal, although i wouldn’t quite declare it the 2010 offseason’s worst signing. even if it were, however, i feel like that misses the point in evaluating wade. when he was hired, his principle objective–and the basis for how he should be evaluated–was to bring in talent through the draft and extract value from the older players on his current roster. has he been successful thus far in doing that? i actually think so.

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  22. Patrick says:

    Dave Cameron’s constant Houston bashing continues. I agree that Houston is going to be a bottom 5 or bottom 10 organization, but 30 seems extreme. Houston is a team that sabermetricians love to hate–they constantly outperform their run differential and the like, and projection systems consistently underrate them. This is a rotation that was a top 10 rotation past the ASB, won 76 games despite a horrible year by Carlos Lee, and could potentially get major second half contributions from a rookie that has been extremely impressive in every year in the minors.

    Ed Wade also gets bashed here because of his non-sabermetric approach to things. Yes, the Lyon signing was an overpay, but he performed well in his role last year. Wade is the guy who traded an aging (and now overpaid) Brad Lidge for a top 20 OF who was a minimum salary guy at the time and is still under team control.

    He also drafted and signed Jordan Lyles, Jason Castro, Mike Foltynewicz, JD Martinez (20th round), Austin Wates, as well as snagging Aneury Rodriguez in a smart rule 5 pick. Ariel Ovando was a tremendous signing from the Dominican and looks to be a very good player.

    Wade at the very least has given this team a direction, by trading Oswalt and Berkman (and doing a good job of getting a good haul for both, especially Berkman), he’s acknowledged that we are a rebuilding squad. The Barmes and Hall acquisitions are puzzling, but I think those were motivated more by McLane than anything.

    I’m not saying the Astros are a good team or have a good farm system–it’s clear they don’t–but Ed Wade has done a decent job. Giving him and Houston management a 30th ranking given their impressive scouting operation is a joke.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given that this guy thought that Seattle was the 6th best organization going into the year.

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    • Jason B says:

      “Dave Cameron’s constant Houston bashing continues.”

      You’re right. He does nothing but sit in his mom’s basement for hours on end thinking of diabolical ways to slight the Astros. Well played!

      And he DEFINITELY came up with these rankings totally on his own.

      “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given that this guy thought that Seattle was the 6th best organization going into the year.”

      That is a unique and fresh angle you have taken. Again, well played, sir. Well played.

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      • Patrick says:

        Thank you for appreciating what I had to say… Oh you were being sarcastic?!?

        The fact is that the sabermetric community (Cameron included), constantly underrate Houston. I’m not saying he hates the Astros, but he is generally very critical of the front office and more because they take a much more traditional (instead of sabermetrical) approach to things. Wade has not hit on all his moves (Matsui, Russ Ortiz, Shawn Chacon), but he has been generally pretty good (Valverde, Bourn, draft moves).

        The 6org comment was just to help prove that Cameron’s personal bias pervades in what he writes.

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      • Small Sample Goodness says:

        All the 6org comment helped to prove is that you’re the one with a bias problem.

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    • Jim says:

      “Wade at the very least has given this team a direction, by trading Oswalt and Berkman (and doing a good job of getting a good haul for both, especially Berkman),”

      I stopped reading your comment after that–of course, after seeing the replies, it made sense that you would continue on to make a “#6org” reference–why wouldn’t you? Everything else you said was nonsense.

      (Seriously, Wade has been hammered by even devoted Astros’ fans for that Oswalt trade–and that’s mostly because he couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to get ripped by the Blue Jays, sending them Anthony Gose for Brett Wallace. Otherwise, it might have been an alright deal for them.)

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      • Patrick says:

        Read these and tell me the Astros were fleeced: http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2010/7/30/1595396/what-does-the-roy-oswalt-trade
        http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2010-07-29/what-roy-oswalt-trade-means-for-phillies-others (biggest quote from this: “The Phillies gave up more to get Oswalt than they received from the Mariners for Lee.”)
        http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog?name=law_keith&id=5421128

        It was a deal that Wade had to make, and given the circumstances it was a pretty good one. Wallace for Gose was not a bad move at all, Wallace looked surprisingly strong defensively last season and after an off-season fine tuning his swing, he’s tearing up spring training (I understand that Spring Training means little, but given his minor league track record, it’s tough to see him falling on his butt offensively in the majors).

        Since you’re saying everything else I said was nonsense without reading my comment, please tell me what was wrong with what I said. Has Wade not made smart draft decisions and rebuilt what was an absolutely horrible farm system to one that is at least passable? Has he made some smart trades to get Michael Bourn and Jose Valverde? Of course not. The Astros look like they’ll likely win fewer than 80 games so they’re obviously horrible, I guess.

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  23. reillocity says:

    As an Astros fan, I’d say their 5 biggest organizational problems are:

    1. a lame duck owner
    2. a lame duck owner who is seeking to sell his franchise for 30% to 40% over its value
    3. no players who draw walks
    4. few players who hit for home run power
    5. few power arms

    That said, the Pirates, Indians, and Diamondbacks are easily the worst 3 MLB organizations from top to bottom, and each of them suffer from the same basic problem that the Astros do – sorry ownership. And I think a case could be made to throw the Orioles (aka, the Astros of the AL), Marlins, and Padres into the mix with those 3 clubs and the Astros, for the same reason.

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  24. CircleChange11 says:

    The “problem” with putting the Marlins in the same category is that they are continually stocked with young talent … So their future always looks bright.

    I think one thing that I am others may be missing is that the Astros, over the next 5 years, will probably have more wins than the 3-5 teams ranked above them.

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    • doug K says:

      That might be true about their wins total. But the chances of the Astros rising to contention in the next 3 years is easily the worst in all of baseball. These other bad franchises have a better chance of hitting the lottery with a few decent prospects and putting together something exciting than the Astros.

      Compare them to their division rivals: the Pirates. Pitt has Mc Cutcheon, Tabata, Walker, Mc Donald, Alvarez and Sanchez plus some really strong newly added pitching that could develop and form a dynamite core in a few years. Maybe not but maybe.

      Who would the comparable potential young core be for Houston? They arent even close to matching the Bucs. So while the’Stros will likely win more games over 3 years than Pittsburgh due to a larger inherent payroll base, they have a much lower chance of rising up to be a contender. They clearly belong at #30 I think.

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      • reillocity says:

        You’re underestimating the value of the single most important element of a franchise – its ownership. As long as the Pirates are owned by the group that owns them now, they’ll be the 29th or 30th best organization in MLB for the next 5 to 7 years. A Sanchez or Taillon can’t erase the lingering damage that their owners have inflicted on the organization- there’s a whole generation or more of Pittsburghers who have almost zero interest in the Pirates. A similar problem exists in Cleveland. Besides having been relatively competitive in the last half-dozen years, the Astros have something going for them that the Pirates, Indians, and the other organizational cellar dwellers don’t have- an owner who wishes to sell the team. That handicaps them this season, but makes 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 relatively promising all things considered. Sure, theoretically, they could get another bad (inept and/or insufficiently wealthy) owner, but at the worst that would be a lateral move.

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  25. boxx says:

    Jason B- I agree that the staff has some unproven guys but they have enough upside to be one of the better rotations in the NL if guys like Happ and Norris take big steps forward. Happ has already shown flashes and Norris’ K/9 and stuff are for real.

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  26. boxx says:

    Also the team won 76 last year. If the Wandy, Myers, Bourn and Pence produce as expected and Lee bounces back/has better luck then I don’t think a 5 win improvement is farfetched. Again it probably hinges on Happ or Norris taking big steps forward, but I happen to like them both.

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  27. Mattbrown006 says:

    I’m not sure why you would bash the acquisition of Barmes and Hall. The realized Manzella wouldn’t hack it at SS, had some money to spend, and a pitchers that has a great fastball and not much else to trader. The improved the team with the trade. They knew Keppinger had a football injury and they didn’t have a 2B above AA to replace him, so they picked up Hall, who had some success last year, on a cheap one yrar deal. Fangraphs and most of the commenters argue that the best way to improved is to first be horrible, but there aren’t many examples of that. I see nothing wrong with plugging holes to field a more competitive team while you build up your farm system. It sells tickets, gives players and fans hope, and gets you something to trade at the deadline. The key is continued development of the farm. The Astros might not have high-level talent right now, but their system is leaps and bounds ahead of what they had when Wade and Heck got there. They have at least mediocre talent at every position in the minors now, which couldn’t be said four years ago. They’ve had good drafts the past three years and they’ve been active internationally. They were in the top four in farm talent spending last year – obviously Drayton has learned from the mistakes of 06 and 07. GMs can’t bank their underspend one year to overspend in following years. It simply doesn’t work that way. So what’s wrong with continuing to draft well and using you’re allocated funds to plug holes with stopgap, short-term players?

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  28. Mattbrown006 says:

    Damn autocorrect

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