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Friday, July 27, 2012

Astros test fans’ loyalty, patience with dreadful run

(h/t Hardball Talk)

After Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates, the Astros are 34-66 and on pace for a club-record 107-loss season and the worst record in Major League Baseball for the second year in a row… Home attendance, as measured by tickets sold, is averaging less than 20,000 for the last 11 home games since mid-June. At this rate, season attendance will be the worst ever at Minute Maid and the team’s lowest total since the post-strike season of 1995…

The slump on the field has been accompanied by a nosedive in television viewing. Through Tuesday, Astros games on Fox Sports Net Houston had an average Nielsen rating of 1.2 percent (about 26,000 of the market’s 2.1 million TV households), down 25 percent from 2011 and down 71 percent from the 4.1 rating during the World Series run in 2005…

“Can we get any lower? No,” said attorney Rusty Hardin, a season-ticket holder. “Is it a good idea to be doing this? Yes. It is a painful, painful exercise, but people realize we have to build a minor league system.

“I think Houston will be patient for two to three years. After the third year, it might be pretty tough.”

The graph of Hardin’s clients’ Hall of Fame chances looks remarkably similar!

The District Attorney Posted: July 27, 2012 at 09:47 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, business

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 27, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4194305)

“Can we get any lower? No,” said attorney Rusty Hardin, a season-ticket holder. “Is it a good idea to be doing this? Yes. It is a painful, painful exercise, but people realize we have to build a minor league system.


I'm guessing this is that Rusty Hardin. Seems like you might mention that.
   2. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: July 27, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4194307)
Do the astros realize they cant draft andrew luck number one overall next year?
   3. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4194312)
I'm guessing this is that Rusty Hardin. Seems like you might mention that.

Note TDA's comment beneath the exceprt.
   4. McCoy Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:05 AM (#4194332)
After Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates, the Astros are 34-66 and on pace for a club-record 107-loss season and the worst record in Major League Baseball for the second year in a row

Not if the Cubs have anything to do with it.
   5. Dangerous Dean Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:11 AM (#4194335)
This is the same Houston market where the fans stopped supporting the Oilers, too. So I don't think that they will patiently wait for three years.

I was in Houston this year for all three of the Rangers games there. At least half of the fans at the games were Rangers fans.

Last year I went to Houston for a Red Sox game and the Astros fans were outnumbered in the UBER-GOOD box seats! The team even played Sweet Caroline as if the game were being played in Boston. I had thought that was the low point of the franchise, but this year's team is brutally bad. They'd be hard-pressed to beat Texas' AAA or AA teams in a 5 game series.

And as bad as it is going to be this year, it won't be any better next year. In fact, with the move to the AL West the Lastros won't get to play the Cubs any more. Now they will have a Murder's Row of Texas, LAA and Oakland to face. And if you think the Lastros fans won't watch games NOW, just wait until a big chunk of their games don't start until 9 p.m. local time.

The defication is about to hit the rotary oscilator, Houston!
   6. base ball chick Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:30 AM (#4194339)
there is no way there are that many people at the actual GAME. there are a lot of season tickets bought by companies and nobody shows up. the attendence took a nose dive after that butthole mclane threw the season away at hurricane ike. that was the total end. mclane throwing hunsicker out was just the beginning of the end.

what really turned houston into a baseball town was signing roger clemens. it was unfreakingbelieveable. and won't never happen again.

nobody is patiently waiting for 3 years (yeah, only 3 years, surrrrrrre), especially as the team will stop playing real baseball at the end of the year. nobody gives a damm about freaking dallas. rivalry my as$- and actually, the astros AAA team has kicked the heck out of roundrock more than a few times because the AAA team is mostly AAAA player retreads.

but really, it doesn't matter because crane will have the payroll at minimum, the usual business will buy season tickets for a tax writeoff and ballclubs make plenty of money even of nobody goes. see the marlins for the past 10 years.

like i keep saying, they'll fill the park with ranger, yankee and redsox fans on those games.

they've lost pretty much almost all of their real fan base. they've lost people who have been fans since the colt 45s and they aren't ever getting em back.

and now that mah boy wandy is a pirate, guess i know who i'll be rooting for.



   7. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 28, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4194355)
to honor the team, the UH theater program's performing Comedy of Errors at the Miller Outdoor Theater in August.

(& in Houston, we just assume it's that Rusty Hardin. Guys like rusty and Dick DeGuerin are local celebs, unlike anyone left on the Stros' active roster.)
   8. Walt Davis Posted: July 28, 2012 at 03:12 AM (#4194359)
The Astros were 22-23 on May 25. They have gone (double yikes!) 12-43 since then. That's a Cleveland Spiders pace and they've traded most of their "best" players.

And sorry, McCoy, I was even more pessimistic about the Cubs coming into the season but there's no way they'll be able to blow that 7.5 game lead -- granted a Soriano trade is like 6 wins right there but still. Heck, looks like the poor dears might even be better than the Rockies and a little bad luck and we'll finish ahead of the Padres too.

Hell, we're only 5 games back of the Phils at the deadline!
   9. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 28, 2012 at 03:36 AM (#4194362)
Fans will be back as soon as the team starts wining agin, like clockwork. It appears Crane got himself a good GM, and already the minor league system has improved significantly. Baseball Chick, I look forward to the day you happily eat your words and fall in love with your team all over again.
   10. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 28, 2012 at 04:30 AM (#4194367)
Bring back the orange unis next year and all will be well.
   11. bfan Posted: July 28, 2012 at 07:18 AM (#4194378)
They have a few decent young parts; I assume they will get another #1 next year, sign Appel when he has no alternatives, and maybe year 3 does not look so bad. They have re-built their farm system nicely.

Sometimes franchises get lucky; the Nats back to back #1s were Harper and Strasburg. There was no one on the board near those 2, either year, so the Astros will have to make due with the 2 they will get.

Houston is a great market; in 5 years, they will be and act like a big market team, and someone else will be competing with Philadelphia, NYC, Boston and LA to sign every shiny new FA.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 28, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4194391)
It's really hard for me to see how Houston's going to be able to compete before year 5 or so. Their owner appears undercapitalized and cheap, their farm system is empty, and they've just traded away their best major leaguers for B/C prospects. Luhnow will have to work miracles to get a competitive team before late in the decade, I think.

If I thought Crane would spend some money on FA, I could see a three-year plan, but that's not the sense I've gotten of Crane.
   13. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 28, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4194445)
and now that mah boy wandy is a pirate, guess i know who i'll be rooting for.


Huzzah!
   14. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 28, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4194452)
It's really hard for me to see how Houston's going to be able to compete before year 5 or so.

Pittsburgh may provide a decent analogy. Neal Huntington took over days after the '07 regular season ended. After four more losing seasons, the Pirates are playing .576 baseball with two months remaining.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4194458)
Pittsburgh may provide a decent analogy. Neal Huntington took over days after the '07 regular season ended. After four more losing seasons, the Pirates are playing .576 baseball with two months remaining.
I think it's a pretty good analogy.

It's not one that's particularly kind to Houston. That's a lot of losing, and Pittsburgh was actually in better shape after 2007. The leader of Huntington's team is Andrew McCutchen, whom he inherited. The third best player on the team, Neil Walker, was also inherited from the previous regime. There isn't a McCutchen in the Houston system, maybe there's a Walker. Plus Pittsburgh was able to outspend most of baseball in the draft for several years, while the draft caps now bar Houston from doing so to any significant degree.

And that's a four-year plan. Now, if Crane is willing to spend to a degree that matches his market size, they could easily make up the difference. But my understanding of Crane's finances and plans suggests he isn't going to do that. In that case, I think about five years is right.
   16. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4194466)
That's a lot of losing, and Pittsburgh was actually in better shape after 2007.

I don't disagree, although the rest of the Pirates system arguably was worse than how the Astros look after these deals. Also, Luhnow is very highly regarded, more so than Huntington was when he took over the Pirates.
   17. base ball chick Posted: July 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4194482)
ValueArbitrageur Posted: July 28, 2012 at 03:36 AM (#4194362)

Fans will be back as soon as the team starts wining agin, like clockwork. It appears Crane got himself a good GM, and already the minor league system has improved significantly. Baseball Chick, I look forward to the day you happily eat your words and fall in love with your team all over again.


VA - i am not leaving because the team is terrible and is gonna be terrible until my kids are out of hs at least. i am leaving because they are going to be playing DH ball instead of baseball. i know and have talked to all KINDS of fans who have been astros fans through the 70s, the bad parts of the 80s and 90s, and we all stuck. but leaving the NL is the last straw.

i keep telling you guys - Crane is NOT gonna sign any FA like jayson werth (star, big bux, long contract) because
1 - he isn't gonna spend the money and he said so. VERY clearly. both before AND after the sale went through.
2 - unless they are from this area, big free agents WILL NOT SIGN HERE. so we'll get some cheapo FA relievers or something so as to not get shtt from the MLBPA. we have never EVER competed for big FA with NY/Boston/Philly/Chi/LA. We COULD have after Roger and Andy got here, but we didn't.
3 - he doesn't HAVE the money to spend.

i know all about the luhnow is highly regarded stuff but he is going to have to find actual major league quality - not these AAAA guys - players SOMEwhere and he didn't get any top prospects in trade (rudy owens - are u serious???) and besides altuve, he no longer has any major leaguers to trade.

we don't HAVE an andrew mccutchen - closest we have is george springer. by age 22, mccutchen was already a major leaguer and an obvious STAR!! at age 22 springer is at high A in an extreme hitters park. we don't even have a neil walker.

sigh

i know you are gonna point to all the people who are coming back out to PNC now that the pirates are winning. and i'm gonna tell you that the pirates have had a fan base for over 100 years. and that we didn't draw big sellout crowds back in the late 90s when we were winning (except after we got randy johnson in a trade, who politely said - no thank you to re-signing) and we didn't get any serious amount of bandwagon fans UNTIL WE SIGNED CLEMENS. i know. i've been there.
   18. Astros Offensive Juggernaut Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4194495)
"i keep telling you guys - Crane is NOT gonna sign any FA like jayson werth (star, big bux, long contract) because"

The Astros prior success wasn't predicated on signing big name FAs. The last big FA acquisition was Carlos Lee. Before that it was hometown boys Clemens and Pettite, and before that it was hometown (and near hometown) boys Drabek and Swindell. Prior to that, hometown boy Nolan Ryan. The Astros managed to be successful growing their own talent, making good trades, and only signing local FAs. Not signing Jayson Werth or Carlos Lee-type players isn't going to hamper them too much. Unfortunately, GMs aren't as willing to part with young talent in trades than in the 80s and 90s.

I am still concerned about how bad the team is and whether it will turn off some fans. The Astros in the early 90s were not this bad and had some good players. I would rather hang on to Michael Bourn than trade him for basically nothing.

But the Astros success depends more on how well they draft and develop and the trades they make than an ability to sign FAs.
   19. jyjjy Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4194500)
2 - unless they are from this area, big free agents WILL NOT SIGN HERE. so we'll get some cheapo FA relievers or something so as to not get shtt from the MLBPA. we have never EVER competed for big FA with NY/Boston/Philly/Chi/LA. We COULD have after Roger and Andy got here, but we didn't.

Have you repressed Carlos Lee so quickly?
   20. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4194517)
It's way too soon to judge Crane and Luhnow, but if their plan is to rebuild via the draft and analytics alone, I suspect Astros fans are going to be in for a long decade.

Given that Crane didn't take over until November and Luhnow wasn't hired until December, I wasn't surprised they kept almost the entire bb ops, scouting, and player development staffs in place for 2012. But the complete lack of international spending seems like a red flag. If this was an all-out rebuild, it seems like the Astros should have been all over Cuban free agents like Cespedes, Soler, Puig, Concepcion, Luis, et al. Now, with the new rules in place, Houston will be trying to rebuild with essentially the same number of draft picks and same international signing budget as the other 29 teams. Even if the Astros pick in the top 5 for the next three to five years and hit on all of their picks, they'll still be quite a few bodies short of a championship-caliber team.
   21. base ball chick Posted: July 28, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4194555)
18 - correctamundo

19 - nope - carlos lee considers himself "local" because he has a ranch not real too far away that is his home away from his panama ranch. he WANTED to join the astros and why they overbid for him i don't know. he even got rid of scott boras to make sure mclane would sign him. far as i'm concerned, he's no different from any other guy who signed with the astros who wanted to come home. (same thing with jeff kent wanting to pretend he's an Original Texan" with his nearby ranch. We wouldn't have gotten Peavy or anyone else who is not from around here.20.

Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4194517)
It's way too soon to judge Crane and Luhnow, but if their plan is to rebuild via the draft and analytics alone, I suspect Astros fans are going to be in for a long decade.


- ay yep

Given that Crane didn't take over until November and Luhnow wasn't hired until December, I wasn't surprised they kept almost the entire bb ops, scouting, and player development staffs in place for 2012.


and considering they were all OVAH the scouting and drafting BEFORE they took over last year, crane had PLENTY of time to throw out the crappy old guys and get new/better ones seeing as how he never planned to spend anything


But the complete lack of international spending seems like a red flag. If this was an all-out rebuild, it seems like the Astros should have been all over Cuban free agents like Cespedes, Soler, Puig, Concepcion, Luis, et al.


DINGDINGDING - we gots a winnah
nobody appears to be noticing this. he COULD have gotten rid of wandy LAST year because there were 3 teams i know of who were willing to take his ENTIRE contract (nothing in return) but that money COULD have been spent on international FA and it wasn't.
- the only international FA they ever spent any sort of money on is ariel ovando - and that was the end of the ed wade era and i know yall saying WHO??? and i say, yep



Now, with the new rules in place, Houston will be trying to rebuild with essentially the same number of draft picks and same international signing budget as the other 29 teams. Even if the Astros pick in the top 5 for the next three to five years and hit on all of their picks, they'll still be quite a few bodies short of a championship-caliber team.


- wellwellwell

someone besides me has got that figured out. the minor leaguers we do have got no future biggio/bagwell/oswalt/miller/caminiti/finley/carlos hernandez/carlos guillen/kenny lofton/lance berkman

even if the prospects were all only league average guys, which they sure don't look like, it still wouldn't be a winning team, angels/rangers or not



   22. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 28, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4194633)
VA - i am not leaving because the team is terrible and is gonna be terrible until my kids are out of hs at least. i am leaving because they are going to be playing DH ball instead of baseball. i know and have talked to all KINDS of fans who have been astros fans through the 70s, the bad parts of the 80s and 90s, and we all stuck. but leaving the NL is the last straw.


I forgot ahout that. I understand completely, you have my apology and condolences.
   23. DA Baracus Posted: July 28, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4194641)
i keep telling you guys - Crane is NOT gonna sign any FA like jayson werth


That is a good thing.
   24. base ball chick Posted: July 28, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4194647)
DA - well, not jayson werth (too bad cuz i would luv to get holt of that boy and)

but i meant someone who is a FA who is really good and gonna get a huge contract for a lot of years. like, say, CC sabathia. or CJ wilson. or manny ramirez in 2000. or any star you can think of who signed a big pay multi year deal and was werth it

hahahaha
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4194694)
houston is an armpit of a city.

the astros now do a good job of representing the essence of that dump

   26. Jim Wisinski Posted: July 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4194704)
And if you think the Lastros fans won't watch games NOW, just wait until a big chunk of their games don't start until 9 p.m. local time.


I keep seeing this talked about like it's such a big deal and it's really a bunch of nonsense. Ignoring Interleague which varies from year to year the Astros currently play against four teams which play in the Pacific time zone or Mountain zone with no DST adjustment (Giants, Padres, Dodgers, Diamondbacks). That means they have to play a minimum of twelve games per season and probably more like fifteen-sixteen games that start two hours later already since there's usually an extra away series mixed in against one of the teams. They also play three to six games against Colorado which pushes the time back an hour; not as big of a difference but still lessens the convenience a bit. If the number of divisional games remains the same in the future then, with only three teams in the Pacific to face, the Astros will play a grand total of 27 games that start two hours later (30 if the talk of divisional play going to 20 games comes about).

So at the maximum 18 more games could start two hours later and it's much more likely to usually be about 14-15. Less than one-tenth of the entire season will be affected normally and that doesn't even include the fact that the Astros won't have an annual series in Colorado. Big frickin' deal.
   27. base ball chick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4195119)
houston is a WONderful city - don't pay no nevermind to harvey and all the snow luvvvvvers

and anyone got any idea what the odds is on

1 - the astros breaking the 23 loss in a row record?

2 - the astros breaking the 120 loss/season record?
   28. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: July 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4195124)
2 - the astros breaking the 120 loss/season record?


They would have to go 7-53 in their last 60 games. They are not that bad. No one is.
   29. TerpNats Posted: July 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4195129)
DA - well, not jayson werth (too bad cuz i would luv to get holt of that boy and)
bbc, you are more than welcome to become a Nats fan (over the years, Pittsburgh has inflicted far more pain on Houston than Washington has, albeit not in baseball). In fact, Jayson should be back on the roster when Bryce Harper & Co. visit Minute Maid from Aug. 6 to 9.
   30. base ball chick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4195397)
miserlou

you taken a look at that roster?

cmon - we're 3 fer july. all we need to do is keep it real next 2 months and bobs your uncle. where on earth did that saying come from?
   31. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4195412)
They are not that bad. No one is.

Is that a dare?
   32. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:30 PM (#4195415)
lisa

you are very sweet

houston stinks

end of story
   33. base ball chick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4195432)
harvey

you can't POSSIBLY think milwaukee is a better city. you don't even LIKE beer!!!! houston doesn't stink - it isn't even that polluted. it's a perfectly good city - and there is so much of it too!!!!!

   34. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: July 29, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4195441)
20 - I'm sympathetic to that argument in the abstract but, when it comes to specific players, I can see why Houston didn't pursue them. For instance, who thinks Puig was a good deal for the Dodgers?
   35. zonk Posted: July 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4195492)
harvey

you can't POSSIBLY think milwaukee is a better city. you don't even LIKE beer!!!! houston doesn't stink - it isn't even that polluted. it's a perfectly good city - and there is so much of it too!!!!!


Forbes recently ranked Houston as America's "coolest city"... I'm not so sure Forbes has its finger on the pulse of cool though.

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