Hindsight is always 20/20, however, the Astros may benefit from a history lesson in 2016.
Trading from the farm has been viewed as one way to shortcut one’s self into contention. Spending extravagant amounts of money in free agency is another. But since this is the Astros we are talking about, then trading from a deep farm system was the only way this team could improve drastically in short order.
However, just because you can trade prospects for proven major league players doesn’t necessarily mean you should. But there are times a trade, or shall I say the “right” trade, is needed to truly make your team a contender. See Yoenis Cespedes going to the New York Mets last season. That was the right trade at the most opportune time. On the other hand, trading four well-regarded prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers doesn’t appear to be such a good move in the present tense. But like I said, hindsight is 20/20.
When is the last time you witnessed an organization trade much of its farm system for immediate success at the big league level; or at least in recent memory anyway? Not many. Most that do attempt to walk down that slippery path usually find their in salary hell that is imposed by ownership or with little talent to supplement its existing base. You then run the risk of having a top heavy roster, like the mid-2000’s Astros, and then the epic collapse is a near-certain reality at some point in the future.
Ever since the lauded 2012 draft that landed the Astros Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, and Preston Tucker, the entire Houston organization has collected volumes of talented from all over. This will continue to be the lifeblood of the Astros for the foreseeable future. And it would be foolish to overreact to this poor start and break the farm for another proven major leaguer. Unless the “right” trade comes along. Heck, I would even say that if this season turns out to be a major disappointment based on the progress made the past two seasons.
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Currently the Astros have numerous well regarded prospects like Alex Bregman, A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, Francis Martes, and David Paulino. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in the team’s minor league system. While it may not be ranked as one of the best, it still has to considered one of the deeper systems around. And it would be a mistake to trade a good portion of that talent to salvage the 2016 season if the train continues to derail at Union Station. There is no sense in sacrificing the long term goals of an organization.
Baseball really is an unpredictable sport. Evaluating prospects is more of an art form than exact science. Heck, bad luck in baseball can derail a season, at least in the early going (see the Astros starting pitchers .332 BABIP in 2016). But trading from the farm just for sake of making a move to “maybe” right the ship isn’t the best course of action. Unless the “right” trade comes along for the Astros, I would be hesitant in making moves anytime soon.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**