The Astros are essentially an expansion team, lets just be real about it. Considering how the franchise looked only 18 months ago, that’s not bad. The farm system was still bottom five, although improving, and the major league club was below average. Today, the Astros are the worst team in baseball, and maybe the worst in some time. Thing is, the Astros are much better today because the farm system is now considered above average and depending who you speak to, top 10. Jeff Luhnow’s blueprint has now come into focus and the foundation has been put in place.
I always hear that a successful football team needs to be built from the offensive and defensive lines then branch ouch. For most teams outside of New York and Los Angeles, the same strategy should apply to baseball and the minor leagues. A good farm system will keep you successful for quite a long time, if run correctly. Some people will say that this strategy cost the Pirates 20 years of misery and still hasn’t helped Kansas City much. They’d be right but factor in the organizational structure those franchises had in place, mediocre at best and horrible at worst. So far, Jeff Luhnow has shown that he is far from mediocre and shown no reason not to believe in his philosophy, at least in the near future.
Something happened after Jeff Luhnow burned down the Astros foundation and it was spectacular. Jeff found hope, what we assumed was rotten actually turned out to have some interesting pieces. The Astros system had some promising prospects and was not as bad as many claimed to be, so Jeff made very sure he was going to add to that hope. Trade after trade, he built a strong foundation with solid prospects that maybe weren’t head-turners but added valuable pieces that are necessary to build a strong base. Will it be enough to lead them back to contention right away, not even close but it has begun a moving train going forward without brakes. The major league club still has pieces, outside of Jose Altuve, that have value and could be used to buy more supplies to put into rebuilding his house.
So when will the house be ready for some tenants? Hard to say, but you can already see the outer shell being formed and can see where the kitchen and rooms will be. I’d say by 2014 the Astros will be respectable and the following year should be able to go toe to toe with the big boys in the AL West. That said, prospects are incredibly tough to predict and how much money Jim Crane will invest to finish the club when the time is right is still up in the air. We can dream, predict or simply wait for all the action to play out. Myself, I have my popcorn handy and sitting on the front lawn, watching Luhnow’s workers rebuild the Astros once strong home.