Alfonso Soriano: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports

Astros out of money or waiting for the right moment?

My impression has always been that the Astros were simply waiting for the right time and the right players to open up  Jim Crane’s wallet. Given the current state of the club, spending money is really irrelevant which makes the waiting game the right move. Which makes Dan Knobler’s tweet concerning the Astros spending mindset very disturbing. Knobler says the Cubs tried to basically give Alfonso Soriano to the Stros, selling the idea that he would be their DH, but the Stros turned down a potential deal because they didn’t have the money to get it done. What, not enough money to take on a small portion of his contract?

The whole belief that the Astros don’t have enough money to take on Soriano’s remaining contract blows my mind and has me searching for answers. The first possibility that comes to mind is that Knobler’s source was simply wrong. I mean that never happens, but for the sake of this article, let’s assume the source is valid. So, where does that leave the good guys? How can a club who has reached a historically low level of payroll, almost be out of cash? In the above scenario, the Cubbies were going to basically gift wrap Soriano, paying most of his salary. If my theory holds any water, the Stros simply chose not to sign the former slugger and rather search for a longer term option. That seems like a logical scenario and given Soriano’s past, I’d bet money on it.

What if my theory doesn’t hold water and the Stros are truly looking for change under the sofa cushions at Minute Maid? It would truly bring a dark cloud of negativity over the team’s fan base. The team’s commitments are ridiculously low and saying they’re out of money would basically mark the beginning of small market baseball in Houston. That is the dreaded reality most Astrros’ fans had hoped to avoid. Aren’t we supposed to be a mid-major market? And, while not at the level of the east coast or LA teams, the rest of baseball should be in play. Jim Crane, being a new owner, should be able to handle a couple million a year, right?

Dan Knobler’s tweet was both confusing and concerning for a fan base looking for positive news. How could the Astros be out of money? Did they simply not want to spend on that particular player but would be open to spending on others? Maybe the fact and reality we all need to accept and embrace is that the Houston Astros won’t have money to spend on helpful pieces of the puzzle but not by choice, rather necessity. Depressing reality, isn’t it.

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Tags: Alfonso Soriano Houston Astros

  • David

    I understand concentrating on building the farm system and concentrating like that right now. But it is RIDICULOUS if they have decided they cannot at least spend enough money to be respectable during that process. We do not have enough major league ready youngsters at this time for two or three short contracts to cause a big problem of blocking players. Soriano would be the best hitter on this team and if we could have had him for cheap it blows my mind that astros management was unwilling to do this. I have been a big Luhnow and Crane supporter from the beginning, but this is very concerning. There is no excuse for the astros to be as cheap as they are being. Even during the rebuilding process…which I 100% agree with…..the fans deserve to have a decent team to watch. Adding 3 or 4 veterans on 1 to 2…or even 3…year contracts would make the team much more watchable and still allow the rebuilding process to happen. DO NOT BE CHEAP CRANE…THE ASTROS’ FAN BASE DESERVES BETTER!!!!

    • Alex Sandoval

      I still think this was more about Soriano than the budget. That said, Jerry Crasnick thru out a few names today on twitter that the Stros might go after and they were bottom of the barrel guys. Curious what they are looking for or if the right player, Berkman, becomes available than they would open up their spending?!?

      • David

        They better. I am all for the rebuild without a doubt, but they absolutely have enough money to put out a halfway decent team in the process. The fans know better and will never believe that they are broke—especially when we are the 4th largest city in the USA and have the smallest payroll in baseball…plus the new cable deal. I hope it was something other than the money….maybe the Cubs wanted a prospect that Luhnow valued more than Soriano?

  • Cale Jean

    IF every penny saved goes towards us signing and keeping the guys we develop (the ones that pan out), I have no problem with this. On the other hand, I’ll quit baseball altogether if Crane is turning us into the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • ElevateBaseball

    The Houston MSA is approximately the size of the Philadelphia one.

    From year to year, it can be argued that one might spend more than the other, but over time, the two ought not be that different.

    But it should be no surprise that Bud’s friend Jim Crane… the guy who eagerly took $65 million in exchange for his agreement to flip off most of the fan base and end nearly 100 years of Houston’s association with the National League… is running the show according to what is going to produce the best return for the CraneCorp investors.

    And don’t get me wrong… I’m Mr. Capitalist myself… I think profits are great… people stay employed when businesses are profitable. But I’m also Mr. Consumer of Entertainment… and in this age when I do have other viable choices via satellite, if I don’t like that the new owner of the local franchise is disrespecting my preferences, I do what a consumer ought to do, and do what I can to ensure that that owner gets his comeuppance… and in this case, that means Mr. Crane losing money hand over fist.

    “But if he loses money, he might move the team eventually.”


    And if he moves the team, don’t think for a minute that MLB and its capitalist ways is going to sit still very long without a franchise in a top 10 (or by some measures top 5) U.S. market. Most assuredly, someone will move or MLB will decide to expand.

    This is a matter of how much disrespect a fan base is willing to take. We have a chance to once and for all make part of Bud Selig’s legacy the miscalculation that Houston fans are easy… through the failure of the Jim Crane AL franchise based in Houston, the record will show that Selig screwed Astros fans once too often.