SBD/August 15, 2012/Franchises

Astros GM E-Mails Fans With Reassurance Of Team's Rebuilding Process

Luhnow said the team has "underperformed everyone's expectations"
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow yesterday sent an e-mail to the team's season-ticket holders, seeking to reassure them following a historic on-field swoon that has seen the club lose 36 of their last 43 games. Luhnow wrote, "We have underperformed everyone's expectations, including our own. We ran into a combination of bad luck, injuries and a lack of depth that led to our deteriorating record through the mid-summer months." The Astros' 39-79 record is by far the worst in MLB, and the club is the first in the NL to lose 34 times in a 38-game stretch since 1899. Luhnow extensively outlined the club's ongoing efforts to rebuild its talent base through the draft, trades, and international player development, including a recent slate of trades that yielded back 15 players, most of them prospects and in effect representing a second draft pool to join the group selected in June. Luhnow wrote, "It is our hope that you will share the excitement about our future and continue to participate as a season-ticket holder and that your loyalty as an Astros fan will be rewarded in 2013 and beyond” (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). MLB.com’s Richard Justice writes the e-mail was Luhnow’s “opportunity to speak directly to the people who care most about the Astros and to not have the message filtered by a newspaper's editors or a columnist's attitude.” Luhnow “sat down and restated the organization's long-term goals: to hire smart people, to build methodically, to not let one bad season distort the larger picture” (MLB.com, 8/15).

GAME PLAN: In Houston, Randy Harvey writes when Luhnow begins "thinking about playing in the American League, is there any more cause for optimism than there would be if the Astros were staying in the National League, where they’re already at the bottom?” Harvey: “In interleague play this season, the Astros had a 6-9 record. If they won at that rate for an entire season, they’d finish with a mere 97 losses. That’s better than the 106 they lost last season and the 108 they’re on pace to lose this season.” The Astros “can’t count on teams getting worse,” they “have to get better.” Luhnow said that “will be easier, at least in terms of competing with the Angels and Rangers for free agents, if they sell more tickets, which means more money” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/15).
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