Astros way ahead of schedule?
You know what’s really wild about what the Astros are doing?
This isn’t going at all according to the script.
Oh, maybe not the Astros’ script. We don’t have a copy of that one.
But remember when the Astros were losing TONS of games? In 2012 and ’13, Jeff Luhnow’s first two seasons as GM, the Astros lost 218 games.
Granted, they’d lost 106 the season before Luhnow arrived. My point is that Luhnow took over a terrible team, largely bereft of talent, and the next summer happily traded his only two legimiately good players, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. Of course, the benefit of losing so many games is you get to draft higher. Another benefit of not trying to win is the freedom to trade veterans, like Bourn and Pence and others, for young players who won’t help you much today, but might help a lot tomorrow (i.e. a few years from now, usually). But wait, those guys were traded B.L. (before Luhnow)!
Of course, all this falls under the heading of "rebuilding."
Again, Luhnow’s been the GM since December 2011 and has presided over three drafts.
The 2012 draft has, so far, produced two major leaguers: pitcher Lance McCullers and hitter Preston Tucker. McCullers and Tucker have combined for zero wins and one home run (granted, the homer was a big one Thursday). The 2013 and 2014 drafts haven’t produced any major leaguers.
The Astros’ best players are José Altuve and Dallas Keuchel. Altuve signed way back in 2007, Keuchel in ’09. The Astros’ third- and fourth-best players are … I don’t know, maybe George Springer and Collin McHugh? Those are probably the guys you would take for the rest of the season. Springer was the Astros’ last first-round pick — the 11th in that draft — before Luhnow arrived, while McHugh was grabbed off waivers from the Rockies.
So there’s your answer, I guess. If the Astros hadn’t been so terrible in 2013, another team might have grabbed McHugh before the Astros.
Probably not, though.
I’m not saying the Astros didn’t need to lose to win. I’m saying that losing a TON, as they did, isn’t the root cause of their success now.