SBD/September 25, 2013/Franchises

Astros Gaining Top Prospects Through Losing Seasons As MLB's Draft System Is Questioned

This year's top pick Mark Appel will be followed by another Astros overall No. 1
The Astros are "playing baseball's current system to perfection" by consistently gaining top draft picks after losing seasons, and while some may question the tactic, the "problem is the system, which can reward calculated failure, and this should be a serious concern" for MLB, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The payoff for the Astros "will start to show in two or three years, as all of those top draft picks begin reaching the big leagues, and some team officials note that already, some clubs appear to be angling to follow" the team's example. Losing is the "best way to exploit the current system." The Astros next summer "will become the first team in the history of baseball to have the No. 1 overall pick for three consecutive seasons, and officials with other teams expect they could contend for that spot again next year." Some of the team's "best talent has remained in the minor leagues through their brutal regular season," which has seen them go 51-107 as of today. The Astros have "been non-competitive, and haven’t spent the necessary dollars to field a representative product." Olney: "Look, there’s something wrong with that. Because fans are paying major league prices to watch major league competition." What should "scare" MLB is the Astros are "admired for this dogged, disciplined strategy" (ESPN.com, 9/24).

HISTORICALLY BAD: CBSSPORTS.com's Danny Knobler noted the Astros' streak of losing 106 games or more in three consecutive season is "historically bad." The Mets are the only other team who "lost 106 games in back-to-back-to-back years." Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's "long-range plan could well work," but "short-term, his hands may well be tied, and owner Jim Crane may deserve more of the blame for how bad this year's team is." A rival exec said that the problem is "once you chase your fans away, there's no guarantee they'll ever come back" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/23).

POOR WORDING BY ASTROS? The Astros on their Twitter feed Monday wrote, "9/27 is Ladies Night by @StateFarm! Ladies can learn about baseball, enjoy music, food, drinks & more!" TEXASMONTHLY.com's Dan Solomon wrote, "No one can fault the Astros for trying to cater to female fans (or, frankly, for trying to give anyone a reason to buy a ticket to an Astros game), but the implication that ladies need to learn about baseball ... reasonably annoyed some people who face the assumption that sports are only for men every time they try to watch a game." Austin-based writer Jessica Luther said, "It's not their intent to alienate women, but it's a symptom of the fact that there are a lot of men who work in sports. I don't think they considered what that would look like to women who already care about baseball" (TEXASMONTHLY.com, 9/24).
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