For many years now my teams have been:
- in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys
- in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs,
- in MLB, the Houston Astros
- for college sports, the University of Texas.
As you can see, except for the Houston Astros, it has been a pretty disappointing several years. And now of course, all the glory and success from 2017 through last season’s loss in their second World Series in three years, is under the dark cloud of the sign stealing scandal.
A true body blow.
My guess is that over time, more details will emerge of other teams who were involved in similar schemes, some of the shock will wear away and a consensus may emerge, that as ill advised and improper as such actions were, they probably didn’t make a true difference. Just as an example, the year for which they were found most at fault, 2017, the general view of that Astros team was that it played much better on the road than it did at home. Of course, the sign stealing scheme was only implemented at home.
But regardless, there is no doubt that the Astros that we knew and truly came to love, are tarnished.
Although I am sure others have suggested it, I am a bit surprised that there has not been more of a public argument and debate about what seems to me to be the most obvious solution for moving forward: blow the team up.
Under the penalties which the club has accepted, they will not get their two top draft picks for the next two years. The Astros farm system, just a few years ago the cream of the crop, has been much reduced in quality. That’s a necessary result of important trades that helped the team, Verlander and Cole for sure, Greinke, maybe not as much as hoped, and the fact that higher finishes means you don’t get a shot at drafting the next Correas and Bregmans, when you are drafting much lower in the order.
Although the nucleus of the team remains intact, the Astros did nothing to improve over the off season, and is going to have a hard time attracting free agent talent as long as the cloud remains. Everyone else in the American League did. So the future looks like Houston is headed for a depressing spiral down. Although theoretically, the current line up and pitching staff, should compete, under the circumstances, it’s not very realistic that they are going to have a long play off run, and I doubt many would be surprised if they didn’t even make them.
Also every position player who remains on the team from the 2017 club is stigmatized and having a large group of them still together, removes almost any chance to have that stigma diluted and their individual play become the focal point. Instead all anyone will see is their part in a collective guilt.
But there is no question that there is real value in each of the individual parts. How many good, young talented prospects would Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman or Carlos Correa bring? Even older veterans, Verlander, Guriel and Greinke could bring attractive position players and arms.
Starting over with young, new untainted talent, pairing them with Yordon Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and others, seems to me to be an idea worth considering.
It would have the additional benefit of being better in the long run for the Astros who would be dealt. I am sure that Bregman, Altuve and Correa like being in Houston and would prefer, if all were equal, to stay there. But all is not equal. think that they are much more likely to fare better as baseball players if they are in a new environment.
It may be that the new General Manager, whenever that position is filled, might contemplate exactly such an approach. If I were the owner, I would at least want this option considered. Evaluating prospective talent and the ability to trade for it would be skills I would be prioritizing in my search.