Can the Astros Make Free Agents “Comfortable” Again?


In an offseason of change by the Houston Astros, you have to give credit to Jeff Luhnow for being aggressive in the pursuits of notable free agents. The Astros reportedly offered RP Andrew Miller the higher value contract, but he ended up signing for less money with the New York Yankees. They were reportedly in the mix for RP David Robertson, but he choose to go to the White Sox.

Luhnow has not struck out this offseason like some other clubs, with the signings of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Jed Lowrie, and Colby Rasmus. Things were starting to look up for the Astros, and then Ryan Vogelsong happened. Could this attempt at signing a back-of-the-rotation starter have pushed the Astros reputation back down a notch?

The Astros already had a bad hit in publicity in 2014 with the botched signing of #1 pick Brady Aiken due to medical reports. There was a belief that this was just a negotiation tactic to get Aiken to sign for less money. The Astros management took a big reputation hit with that process, but Astros fans also realized that they would be getting two of the first five picks in the 2015 MLB Draft.

Reports late Monday afternoon stated that the Astros were being aggressive towards signing Ryan Vogelsong for the rotation. He came to Houston Tuesday morning, took a psychical, and met with manager A.J. Hinch. So everyone thought for sure that Ryan Vogelsong was Luhnow’s most recent addition. However, instead of announcing the Vogelsong signing, the Astros welcomed Colby Rasmus.

There was an awkward silence for a few days on news concerning Vogelsong and the Astros, until…

Reports started popping up on Wednesday on Twitter that the San Francisco Giants were aggressively trying to re-sign the pitcher. He officially re-signed with the Giants on Friday, which should have been the end of the story.

Let’s read some quotes from Mr. Vogelsong as the he returned back to San Francisco (via Evan Drellich)…

“I made a visit to Houston and met with A.J. Hinch the manager and the staff, the training staff, and I took a physical — just as the process went along here, really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on.”

“Some things happened that I just wasn’t comfortable with and negotiations kind of broke down after that. Once that happened it was time to move on.”

“I thought at the beginning, I thought Houston might be an intriguing place, but after going down there and meeting with people, you know I had great meetings with them, ultimately my decision, I felt I needed to be back in San Francisco.”

“It’s where I’m supposed to be.”

Vogelsong might have just single-handily squashed the Astros chances of signing a top free agent from the 2016 free-agency class. The Astros already have to tell free agents that they are done trading veterans for prospects, they are done with chasing the #1 pick, and that they did their due diligence in the Brady Aiken fiasco. Vogelsong’s comments have effected the Astros’ reputation.

Evan Drellich tweeted out last night that the Astros “Can’t have a player who is about to sign with you come out and declare the Astros made him uncomfortable and expect it to signal good things.” Drellich hit it right on the nose, this is a black eye in an otherwise promising offseason. Other people felt like Vogelsong used the Astros to get a contract from the Giants.

There are two ways to interpret his quotes.

One way of looking at what he said is that he was out of his comfort zone with an organization other than the one that he has spent the past 4 years with, and the Astros do things a different way. In terms of education, every teacher has their own way of teaching. What I see as chaos in a teacher’s classroom, could be a successful learning environment for that particular teacher.

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Maybe Vogelsong just realized that he just wasn’t as ready to leave the West Coast as he thought he was.

In summary: He’s Just Not That Into You Houston! (It’s me not you.)

The second way of interpreting Vogelsong’s quotes is what most of social media has been discussing this evening, that the Astros really did something to sour him on them quickly. Was there some hesitation on the Astros part due to physical results? Were the Astros trying to re-work the proposed contract? The Astros were told to give him 48 hrs to consider other offers, which could have been his exit strategy

Could the Astros have been courting Colby Rasmus at the same time, then Vogelsong had a Frank “Cush” Cushman moment from Jerry Maguire by signing with the other guy?

In Summary: Horrible Bosses 3 (It’s Definitely You)

What Really Happened?

We apparently have to wait 10 years from now to really know what happened between Ryan Vogelsong and the Houston Astros. Until then, I believe that he was interested to hear what the Astros had to say, but he had other people pulling him back to San Francisco. He has called San Francisco home for the past 4 years, and he just decided to go back home.

One thing that can’t be changed from this situation are the views of the Astros front office at this moment. No matter what Vogelsong meant, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. His comments put a do not date sign on the Astros front door. Vogelsong should have waited 10 years to tell his story.

Vogelsong’s Island

Just Sit right back and you will hear a tale,

A tale of a fateful trip,

That started from the airport,

All the way to Minute Maid Park.

The GM was a mighty salesman,

The Manager brave and sure,

Ryan Vogelsong was set for a 1-year deal,

A 1-year deal.

Off to the doctor to get checked up,

The Pitchers Emotions were rocked,

To him things didn’t seem right.

Vogelsong felt out-of-place,

The Astros lost Vogelsong.

The Vogelsong’s set ground on the shore of

San Fran-cis-co Bay.

With Mrs. Vogelsong,

His Agent too,

His bullpen job and the “Freak”

The Astros story,

The Giants Fans,

Are all here in San Francisco.

Thanks to the writer of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, this was my attempt to write a song. No matter what happened in Houston, it should have stayed in Houston. Whether or not Ryan Vogelsong really meant what he said, what he said is called burning bridges. One day, maybe not as a pitcher, Vogelsong’s job will depend on one of the individuals that you called out in Houston.

The Astros are due some good luck. They need some good things to start happening to them as a franchise. No matter what has happened this offseason, the only things that will matter to the 2016 class of free agents is “show me the money”-Cuba Gooding Jr. and “what have you done today to become a champion?”-Drayton McLane. If the Astros return to being a winning team, all the past issues should be forgotten.

“he (Vogelsong) can put the spin on it anyway that better suits him. It doesn’t affect the Astros chances of drawing free agents. Once we win, Houston will be a premium free agent location. Winning will cure all.”-Reid Ryan.

Durring Astros FanFest bloggers round table, I was able to ask Astros president Reid Ryan about Vogelsong’s comments. He replied “he (Vogelsong) can put the spin on it anyway that better suits him. It doesn’t affect the Astros chances of drawing free agents. Once we win, Houston will be a premium free agent location. Winning will cure all.”

Time to move on from Vogelsong, before we all end up shipwrecked in San Francisco as well.

Next: Astros in Your Fantasy Part 4: Jose Altuve