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Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Astros have begun their initial descent from baseball’s top echelon

Houston also seems to have made a philosophical shift by hiring Dana Brown as GM after choosing not to re-sign James Click. Brown comes from a more scouting-oriented background compared to the quantitative-centric hires who turned the so-called “Diasastros” into a dynamic organization.

The Astros of the last few seasons rarely missed when making player-acquisition decisions. But the new regime appears to have missed badly with free agent Jose Abreu, the major middle-of-the-order addition who hasn’t yet homered this season.

His power outage shouldn’t be completely shocking given his age, 36, and the park fit. Of the 228 hitters with at least 175 batted balls in play last year, Abreu ranked 203rd in elevating batted balls to his pull side into the air (15%). The Crawford Boxes in left field don’t work unless you can pull the ball in the air. Otherwise, Houston’s home park isn’t all that favorable to right-handed hitters.

But perhaps the effects of that brain drain are being felt most sharply in the farm system.

The Astros ranked 10th in Baseball America’s organizational talent rankings in the spring of 2018. It was the fifth straight year they ranked in the top 10, and four times they ranked in the top five.

But they fell to 27th in 2020 due to injuries and graduations. They then ranked 26th in the 2021 preseason, 28th last year, and slotted 25th in Baseball America’s organizational talent rankings this spring.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 21, 2023 at 06:08 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros

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   1. Hombre Brotani Posted: May 21, 2023 at 06:59 PM (#6129393)
That the Astros are on the downslope of their success curve is likely, but it's tough to feel that way about a team that's won 10 of 11.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: May 21, 2023 at 07:40 PM (#6129398)
"Bang the drum slowly play the pipe lowly
To dust be returning from dust we begin
Bang the drum slowly I'll speak of things holy
Above and below me world without end

I meant to ask you how when everything seemed lost
And your fate was in a game of dice they tossed
There was still that line that you would never cross
At any cost

I meant to ask you how you lived what you believed
With nothing but your heart up your sleeve
And if you ever really were deceived
By the likes of me

Bang the drum slowly play the pipe lowly
To dust be returning from dust we begin
Bang the drum slowly I'll speak of things holy
Above and below me world without end
Gone now is the day and gone the sun

There is peace tonight all over Houston
But the songs of my life will still be sung
By the light of the moon you hung"
   3. Froot Loops Posted: May 21, 2023 at 08:21 PM (#6129399)
Abreu hasn't been good anywhere, but he's hitting better in Houston (.256/.309/.289) than on the road (.175/.233/.225).
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: May 21, 2023 at 08:46 PM (#6129400)
That the Astros are on the downslope of their success curve is likely, but it's tough to feel that way about a team that's won 10 of 11.

or you know, won the World Series last year. Especially when that world series win was a cumulation of multiple years of great seasonal play leading up to it. 8 consecutive seasons over .500 ball, 7 of which resulted in playoff appearances. I'll bet on the teams track record than a hiccuup with one bad signing.
   5. The Duke Posted: May 21, 2023 at 08:57 PM (#6129403)
I'll believe it when I see it
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: May 21, 2023 at 09:01 PM (#6129404)
8 consecutive seasons over .500 ball,

I guess if you roll the playoffs into the regular season.
   7. Rally Posted: May 21, 2023 at 09:41 PM (#6129409)
The farm system would look better except they were penalized a few draft picks due to being caught cheating.
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 21, 2023 at 10:13 PM (#6129419)
They've been to the ALCS 6 years! in a row, the Series 4 times and won it all twice. Sure, I suppose there's some decline expected there as you can't really do better then they have.

Only 4 teams in the AL have made the ALCS in the last 6 years; Houston, Boston, NY and the Rays and NY has been turfed out 3 times by Houston and not made the series for a long time, unlike the other successful teams.
   9. Tony S Posted: May 21, 2023 at 10:27 PM (#6129428)
When you're at the top, there's only one direction you can go. The Astros were bound to regress to the mean at some point.

Yes, Abreu has been a bust, but despite that and the pitcher/Altuve injuries they're eight games over .500. Pretty nice off year.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: May 22, 2023 at 02:02 AM (#6129442)
And Abreu is replacing Gurriel who was below-replacement last year -- not nearly as bad as Abreu so far but if the Astros could win the WS with Gurriel and his 83 OPS+ out there for nearly 600 PAs, they can win with Abreu or whoever will be replacing Abreu soon enough.

Some obvious issues -- Altuve hurt, Bregman struggling, Abreu's contract -- but they also have what, without putting in any effort to check, I assume is the best rotation in the AL and they're all under 30.
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 22, 2023 at 08:33 AM (#6129459)
I would echo some other comments, as it relates to how "down" a year this really is for Houston. Their lineup has been underwhelming, some key injuries...and they're still 27-19.

What this post made me think about is: Because of the nature of scouting, drafting, and developing prospects in baseball compared to basketball and football (years in the minors, taking 18 year old high school pitchers who won't see the majors for 5-6 years, etc), is the "penalty" of having to draft late in rounds when you win a lot of games less of a penalty in baseball than it is in the other sports?

We've seen so many times in the NFL and NBA - teams that draft at the bottom of the rounds all the time eventually see it catch up to them. For my Patriots, the point where being a 20-year dynasty finally ended was when we had a handful of really bad drafts in a row, so we were unable to find starters for cheap money; combined with seeing our quality veterans finally running out of gas, and we didn't have the top-10 pick opportunities to reliably replace stars with stars.

In baseball, that doesn't seem as obvious a constraint.
   12. McCoy Posted: May 22, 2023 at 08:38 AM (#6129460)
I mean you can't have a 20 year run and draft high in the order while having that run.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 22, 2023 at 10:38 AM (#6129481)
In baseball, that doesn't seem as obvious a constraint.
Plus in baseball you have a large pool of international talent not subject to the draft. (Yet.)
   14. Astroenteritis Posted: May 22, 2023 at 12:28 PM (#6129510)
Agree with #9, when you've had such a great run of success it's not surprising a less than stellar year will come along eventually. A few injuries, a free agent signing that doesn't come through, other teams in the division improve, and presto...kind of a down year. I kind of look at the year after a team wins the WS as gravy, anyway, because the likelihood of repeating is so slim. Even with all that, if the offense comes around a little they will still be a very good team.
   15. Tony S Posted: May 22, 2023 at 01:18 PM (#6129517)
What's the issue with Bregman? He seems to be channeling the Cesar Cedeño career pattern offensively...early HOF-bound performance followed by a slip to ordinariness.

He's either hiding an injury, or he might have benefitted from the Trashcan Sinatras more than anyone... though that doesn't quite fit the timeline.

If he can snap back to his top form, that would be a huge help.

   16. base ball chick Posted: May 22, 2023 at 02:57 PM (#6129534)
going downward is not a real too big of a surprise

they missing 3 major league starters and a major league 1B. plenty of the current players were not a top prospect - JP france was 14th round, not a prospect. brandon bielak, 11th rounder, not a prospect. mccormick was a 21st rounder. meyers was an 18th rounder. hunter brown was 5th rounder. framber vaLdez who JUST threw a shutout - game time 2 hr, 5 minute SHUTOUT 0 (remembering roy-o) - and how rare are those these days, was not a prospect. AND almost none of their top prospects have gone anywhere, except mccullers, bregman and kyle tucker, and there was obviously good minor league depth.

i think that those prospect lists are very highly weighted because of where everyone thought they should be when they got drafted and it is all about the supposed "potential" so i look at what the guys are actually DOING not what someone thought they should be doing.

bregman looked like his swing off and he been rolling over a lot although he looked better this homestand. he didn't fall apart when there wasn't no trash can bangs. he was worth 5 WAR just last year, so no to cesar cedeno cydrome

the thing about dumping james click is just weird. VERY weird seeing as how he was doing a great job and people weren't quitting. i have a feeling that mike fast leaving had to do with luhnow and his gang of cheaters/shttttheads. mike is a very good and decent man and i would guess he didn't want to deal with those brandon shtttbag win-at-any-cost financebros. mejdal was fired by luhnow who knows why, and elias left for a better job, who can blame him
   17. Walt Davis Posted: May 22, 2023 at 08:41 PM (#6129611)
#11 is an interesting question. I suppose it logically follows that if a top draft pick is less likely to be a franchise player and almost no chance they will be an immediate franchise player then, given there are still franchise players around the game, they come from somewhere else more frequently. "Depth" is also a big part of baseball success -- similar to football -- and that can only come from outside the top of the draft. The abundance of international talent outside of the draft is important too of course but I would think the bonus limits would negate some of the big market teams' advantage there -- plus those guys are still generally 5-6 years away from the majors, a lot can happen.

The Cards are the epitome here I'd think, regularly developing solid players from late picks, lower rounds, etc. For most organizations, lower-round success does look pretty random whenever I've poked around (and I'm sure there are real studies out there). Having the cheapskate feeder teams -- Oak, Mia, Pitt, KC, etc. -- helps.

Houston has a 135 team ERA+. Last year they had a 135 team ERA+ (Verlander helped a lot with that one). In 2021, it was 114. Hunter Brown made the top 100 for the first time this preseason. Jose Urquidy barely cracked one top 100 list in 2020 -- which was AFTER his excellent 41 MLB regular season and 10 postseason innings. Nobody else in the 2023 rotation cracked the top 100 once.
   18. base ball chick Posted: May 23, 2023 at 12:35 PM (#6129749)
kind of ridiculous (and cheating) to put a ballpayer on the top 100 "prospect" list AFTER he has already made the majors. i mean, he's ALREADY in the majors

yeahyeahyeah, i know, if he's still a "rookie"...
   19. The Honorable Ardo Posted: May 23, 2023 at 08:44 PM (#6129825)
I understand it's been a disappointing start to the season for Houston, but the article is way too hot a take. They're still the defending champions!

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