The Houston Astros are certainly in a down phase in their history. After winning 84+ games every year from 2001 to 2005, the Astros’ age and lack of talent caught up to them. From 2006 to 2009, the Astros have been outscored by 232 runs. The only hope has come in the form of late runs in 2006 and 2008, giving management the idea that a playoff roster was in place, when in fact the last time the Astros even put an average team on the field was 2006, and even their 74 win season last year was overachieving, based on third-order wins, Pythagorean record, and team WAR.
With little help waiting on the farm and little talent already on board, most teams would treat 2010 as a lost season, and attempt to rebuild through trades and freely available talent. The Astros did not go down that route this winter. They did only bring in five free agents, but they committed 25 million dollars between the five, and one of the contracts was over multiple years.
Between these five players (Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Jason Michaels, Brett Myers, and Cory Sullivan), the Astros brought in only a projected 4.5 wins over the course of this deal, according to CHONE, and that’s assuming that Lyon maintains his projected .7 WAR production over the entire course of his three-year contract. Yes, in a market where the dollar value for wins essentially bottomed out, Ed Wade and Drayton McLane spent approximately 5.5 million dollars per win.
That’s without even accounting for the fact that the Astros are at a very low point on the win curve. With Drayton McLane attempting to sell the team, the Astros low on the win curve and desperately needing some talented draft picks and international talent to infuse in the system, the Astros spent 25 million on a minimal upgrade. These are the kind of management gaffes that lead to extended periods of mediocrity. The Astros need change, and they need it fast.