Time and time again Houston Astros fans are told not to worry about the state of the franchise. The team's run by geniuses, by literal rocket scientists. The smartest men in the room who can outthink every other team in MLB, and in doing so, are turning the Astros into a state-of-the art franchise that is the envy of the majors.
This is great publicity, but how do we know the Astros are really getting better?
General manager Jeff Luhnow wins every trade, signs only players who fit in with the team's analytic plans -- why, Luhnow's so smart that MLB is considering outlawing infield shifts because of the Astros' outstanding success in employing the defensive tactic. Luhnow and his staff are so smart that they resurrected the career of starting pitcher Collin McHugh by showing him how to pitch. And without a doubt, the downfall of Lucas Harrell's career has to be traced by his ignorant denial of everything Luhnow.
But here's the thing: How does anybody really know if the genius of Luhnow is working? The Astros have been one of the worst teams in baseball during his entire tenure at the helm. For the most part, he and his regime had zero to do with acquiring the players on the Major League roster who are succeeding. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel were all brought to the Astros while Ed Wade was the general manager. And while the Astros didn't lose 100-plus games last season and didn't finish in last place in the AL West, a lot of that can only be traced to the epic implosion of the Texas Rangers.More »