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Thread: The "Blow it up" myth

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    The "Blow it up" myth

    As I watch a team like the Astros dismantle their team of virtually all legitimate major league talent that is not in their mid 20s, doing that ultimate joy of so many message board analysts of "blow it up," I think watching games they play are a grim reminder of "be careful what you ask for."

    Having gone through the Reds lean years, and the criticism they often received for not having a "fire sale" after it was obvious they were going nowhere again, save 2001, I am thankful that they never turned themselves into what the Astros management has.

    While I'm sure if their plan, whatever that may be, is successful and winning will cure the ill will with the fans, I would be fearful that I would forever alienate my fan base, which has had a recent taste of playoff baseball.

    Of course, anyone could have told McClain that hiring Ed Wade would lead to the franchise's demise, the current group better be right about a good portion of these "prospects" they pick up and have strong drafts over the next 2-3 years, or they are going to be in Siberia for awhile.

    With attendance down, they also may be shooting themselves in the foot with quick fixes like Free Agents, whom they may not only have trouble affording, but also getting them to come and try to revive the franchise (ala Dave Parker circa 1984).

    Anyhow, I certainly think that they have gone way too far in the old "blow it up" method of rebuilding which so many propose for bad franchises. While it may seem like a way to get a fresh start and "replenish the farm system," do you really get value?

    It will be interesting to watch their attempt to recover from years of poor choices.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    As I watch a team like the Astros dismantle their team of virtually all legitimate major league talent that is not in their mid 20s, doing that ultimate joy of so many message board analysts of "blow it up," I think watching games they play are a grim reminder of "be careful what you ask for."

    Having gone through the Reds lean years, and the criticism they often received for not having a "fire sale" after it was obvious they were going nowhere again, save 2001, I am thankful that they never turned themselves into what the Astros management has.

    While I'm sure if their plan, whatever that may be, is successful and winning will cure the ill will with the fans, I would be fearful that I would forever alienate my fan base, which has had a recent taste of playoff baseball.

    Of course, anyone could have told McClain that hiring Ed Wade would lead to the franchise's demise, the current group better be right about a good portion of these "prospects" they pick up and have strong drafts over the next 2-3 years, or they are going to be in Siberia for awhile.

    With attendance down, they also may be shooting themselves in the foot with quick fixes like Free Agents, whom they may not only have trouble affording, but also getting them to come and try to revive the franchise (ala Dave Parker circa 1984).

    Anyhow, I certainly think that they have gone way too far in the old "blow it up" method of rebuilding which so many propose for bad franchises. While it may seem like a way to get a fresh start and "replenish the farm system," do you really get value?

    It will be interesting to watch their attempt to recover from years of poor choices.
    Generally I agree with teams when they tear it down and start over completely. But I agree with you here, the Astros have gone WAY too far. It's not even close to a legitimate major league team. Who the hell is Scott Moore, and why is he hitting 3rd in your lineup? It's truly embarrassing. It's going to be even worse for them next year in the AL West. They may lose 120 games.

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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Maybe changing the name wasn't such a bad idea, this is a sub-expansion team.

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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    I think "blow it up" is the right mentality for some teams. I don't understand keeping a Felix Hernandez and paying him $20M per season when the rest of the team is pitiful. One guy obviously isn't getting it done. Trade him for 4 guys who have the potential to be solid major leaguers. The Rays and Blue Jays seem to have this mentality. It really comes down to scouting and development. The Reds have been fortunate to build a roster through their farm system and continue to draft well and develop well. Some clubs don't though. If the foundation isn't solid, the rest of the organization can tumble at anytime. Building a solid foundation with a solid farm system really can be key for some teams. But other teams like KC and Cleveland obviously aren't doing a very good job in that area. And the big market teams will always buy their way to the top or so it seems.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Generally I disagree with the OP. I don't know enough about the specifics with the Astros, but I believe in Jeff Luhnow. I like what he is doing generally, just like I like what Theo is doing with the Cubs.

    The composition of their respective rosters when they took over was just so bad, they had to do some radical moves. Usually in these "blow it up" scenarios, the team is atrocious for 2 years or less. By then, if the GM is any good, the prospects turn into real players and the aura of excitement returns to the team. As much as it pains me to say it, I'd be pretty surprised if the Cubs aren't contenders by 2014. Ditto for the Astros in 2015.

    If anything, I wish the Reds would have "blown it up" more than they did in the 2001-2006 lean years. Unfortunately the closest they came to blowing it up was right after they fired their GM and didn't have anyone in place to make carefully thought out moves. Even still, that explosion netted Aaron Harang, the Reds best pitcher of the decade.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    I really don't think you guys understood the depths of the problems in Houston before the "full destruction" mode got turned on. Over the past several years, when they were actually competing for the playoffs, they were doing so with an old team. They were staying viable by trading off all of their prospects for hired guns and FA's with big contracts. They did this for about 5 years straight. It completely decimated their farm system. They had ZERO high level prospects, ZERO middling prospects. The cupboard was freaking bare. No exaggerations. The only time they had a "prospect" was right after that year's draft.

    But while all of that was going on...the older MLB club was just getting older and older. What they're doing right now is EXACTLY what they "need" to do. The only way they'll ever compete in the AL is if they completely re-tool the farm system. And that'll only happen if they deal off all of their known commodities in quantity for quality types of trades. Sure, they want talent...but they DESPERATELY need depth.

    Wade was bad, no doubt...but Luhnow looks like a man with a serious plan. He is getting lots of praise here in Houston for doing what many thought should've been done years ago. I, for one, am glad they're moving to the AL. Because in 5 years, they're going to be formidable IMO. The downside to the move...it means I'll never see the Reds live anymore. *sigh*
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    From BA, this actually pretty clearly describes the problem. This is before this season began and the owner/gm took over.

    After clinging to respectability the last four seasons, the Astros finally bottomed out in 2011.

    At 56-106, Houston had its worst season ever and lost 100 games for the first time. It took a total team effort, with the Astros ranking 13th in the National League in scoring (despite playing in a hitter's park), 16th and last in runs allowed and 15th in both defensive efficiency and fielding percentage.

    The club's disintegration has several obvious causes, such as a decline in Opening Day payroll from $103 million (eighth in MLB) as recently as 2009 to $71 million (20th) in 2011. The franchise is in limbo this offseason as it awaits the finalizing of a sale from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane for $680 million, which also includes a 60 percent share in the Houston Regional Sports Network. MLB continues to look into Crane's past and is trying to nudge the team into the American League.

    The most obvious reason for Houston's collapse is its failures in scouting and player development. Once a pace-setter in Venezuela, the Astros now hang their Latin program's hat on Jose Altuve, a 5-foot-7 scrapper who led the minors in batting but made little impact in his big league debut. Altuve was one of four players who went from instructional league in 2010 to the majors in 2011, along with righthander David Carpenter, outfielder J.D. Martinez and third baseman Jimmy Paredes.

    Martinez is a rare draft success for Houston, which had a brutal run from 2005-07. Just four players from those three drafts have reached the majors, ranking worst in MLB. Only one player has provided long-term big league value: 2006 sixth-rounder Bud Norris.

    Bobby Heck took over as scouting director in 2008 and the organization has made progress, but it has been slow. The organization's emphasis on athleticism and raw tools still could pay dividends, but Heck's drafts have produced only four big leaguers so far: Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles, Martinez and J.B. Shuck. How much of an impact they'll make remains to be seen.

    With the big league club foundering and the upper levels of the system still thin, Houston traded two of its most marketable commodities in July for five members of its current Top 10. Hunter Pence went to the Phillies for four minor leaguers, including first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton (No. 1), righthander Jared Cosart (No. 2) and outfielder Domingo Santana (No. 6). Righthander Paul Clemens (No. 5) and lefty Brett Oberholtzer (No. 7) arrived in a four-player package from the Braves for Michael Bourn.

    The added depth should allow the Astros to slow down the development of young prospects such as shortstop Jonathan Villar, second baseman Delino DeShields Jr. and righthander Mike Foltynewicz Several players could repeat levels after looking overmatched in 2011, when Houston's affiliates combined for an MLB-worst .409 winning percentage in the minors. Due to their poor drafts and foreign presence, the Astros have finished 30th in organization winning percentage in three of the last four years, and they ranked 29th in 2010.

    As one veteran scout put it, "When you have one bad draft, it takes two good ones to make up for it." So Heck and the Astros are digging out of a deep, deep hole.
    Chapman to the rotation!!!! Do it already!!!!

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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    As I watch a team like the Astros dismantle their team of virtually all legitimate major league talent that is not in their mid 20s, doing that ultimate joy of so many message board analysts of "blow it up," I think watching games they play are a grim reminder of "be careful what you ask for."

    Having gone through the Reds lean years, and the criticism they often received for not having a "fire sale" after it was obvious they were going nowhere again, save 2001, I am thankful that they never turned themselves into what the Astros management has.

    While I'm sure if their plan, whatever that may be, is successful and winning will cure the ill will with the fans, I would be fearful that I would forever alienate my fan base, which has had a recent taste of playoff baseball.

    Of course, anyone could have told McClain that hiring Ed Wade would lead to the franchise's demise, the current group better be right about a good portion of these "prospects" they pick up and have strong drafts over the next 2-3 years, or they are going to be in Siberia for awhile.

    With attendance down, they also may be shooting themselves in the foot with quick fixes like Free Agents, whom they may not only have trouble affording, but also getting them to come and try to revive the franchise (ala Dave Parker circa 1984).

    Anyhow, I certainly think that they have gone way too far in the old "blow it up" method of rebuilding which so many propose for bad franchises. While it may seem like a way to get a fresh start and "replenish the farm system," do you really get value?

    It will be interesting to watch their attempt to recover from years of poor choices.
    I agree with you. I think completely blowing up the team "can" be the right option with a caveat that it better work. If you blow up the team and get a haul of prospects promoting you from 5th place to 3rd but no higher, you probably would have been better off fielding a mediocre team and trying to talk yourself into Jimmy Haynes having a career year.

    In order for the Fire Sale mode to work, I think two things need to happen. 1) You need to have a good draft or two under your belt. If you have a base of talent to build from, you can both deal with a player not working out and will have an abundance from which to deal in the future. 2) You need to say no on occassion. Whenever a team rolls out the fire sale sign, other teams know they can take advantage by offering lesser prospects because any prospects/salary relief will benefit the 5th place team more than keeping the player. Best example I can think of is Washington holding on to Adam Dunn through the trade deadline a few years ago which let other teams know that only "serious" offers would be considered.
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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    I'll put it this way. Anyone can come in and "blow it up." That's no different than taking an expansion team. I'm more impressed by the manager who can keep the on-field product competitive while retooling. Fans generally like the blow it up, and what GM doesn't want to pass the buck to someone else's ineptness?

    I recognize the organization was in pretty bad shape, but now they are putting their eggs all in the basket "I'm smart enough to pick the right prospects and get value for my replacement level or slightly above average major leaguers." I think the story will read that very little legit talent is acquired in these deals and that the Astros recovery will come from draft and develop.
    Last edited by traderumor; 07-28-2012 at 12:28 PM.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    I'll put it this way. Anyone can come in and "blow it up." That's no different than taking an expansion team. I'm more impressed by the manager who can keep the on-field product competitive while retooling. Fans generally like the blow it up, and what GM doesn't want to pass the buck to someone else's ineptness?
    The problem with that is that you have to have a base with which to work.

    The Astros, at the beginning of the year, had Joey Altuve, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez.

    That's pretty much it.

    They didn't have much of a choice but to do a complete tear-down.
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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    The problem with that is that you have to have a base with which to work.

    The Astros, at the beginning of the year, had Joey Altuve, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez.

    That's pretty much it.

    They didn't have much of a choice but to do a complete tear-down.
    You always have a choice.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    You always have a choice.
    You also have to take into consideration the move to the AL. The owner basically wanted a "fresh start". Keeping Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez was not going to make the Astros better than a last place team in the near future. Not a chance. So instead they get the best prospects they can get in the hopes that in the near future they'll have enough kids to field a GOOD team for years to come.

    What good does it do to field a team of Brett Myers, Rodriguez, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn if the remainder of the team is Mike Costanzo's? And to be honest, I think they'd LIKE Costanzo. Go back and look at that BA article. The farm system was SO bad that they were regularly rushing kids through the minors in the hopes of filling the holes quicker. When in truth, those kids were nowhere NEAR ready for the bigs. Getting all of the quantity that they have in these trades the past 2 years, it's allowing them to SLOW the rush through the minors and lets them develop their kids properly. How else were they going to get that quantity that they needed? The draft? Trading the "Costanzo"'s? This is basically the price they have to pay for dealing so horribly since 2006 or so.
    Chapman to the rotation!!!! Do it already!!!!

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by _Sir_Charles_ View Post
    You also have to take into consideration the move to the AL. The owner basically wanted a "fresh start". Keeping Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez was not going to make the Astros better than a last place team in the near future. Not a chance. So instead they get the best prospects they can get in the hopes that in the near future they'll have enough kids to field a GOOD team for years to come.

    What good does it do to field a team of Brett Myers, Rodriguez, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn if the remainder of the team is Mike Costanzo's? And to be honest, I think they'd LIKE Costanzo. Go back and look at that BA article. The farm system was SO bad that they were regularly rushing kids through the minors in the hopes of filling the holes quicker. When in truth, those kids were nowhere NEAR ready for the bigs. Getting all of the quantity that they have in these trades the past 2 years, it's allowing them to SLOW the rush through the minors and lets them develop their kids properly. How else were they going to get that quantity that they needed? The draft? Trading the "Costanzo"'s? This is basically the price they have to pay for dealing so horribly since 2006 or so.
    Maybe a start would be to stop whiffing on deals (granted those were old regime deals). They whiffed on Pence and Bourne, now they are getting lower level minor leaguers for what's left, and it is hard to praise a manager at this stage for trading away the few major leaguers he had left for prospects. I guess the broader point is withholding the guy's praise until he's actually accomplished something. Trading marginal major leaguers for marginal prospects is so much putting fresh bread on the shelves, and the bread may be full of unhealthy preservatives. I am thinking not only are these "bad for business moves" in the short term, but I'm not sold on the "good baseball moves" at this point.
    Last edited by traderumor; 07-28-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    I wish the Reds stayed true to their blow it up plan of 2003, instead of wasting millions on the likes of Milton, Cordero and Aurilia, and trading for burnt out relievers every trading deadline. They probably would have been serious playoff contenders much earlier than 2010.
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    Re: The "Blow it up" myth

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    Maybe a start would be to stop whiffing on deals (granted those were old regime deals). They whiffed on Pence and Bourne, now they are getting lower level minor leaguers for what's left, and it is hard to praise a manager at this stage for trading away the few major leaguers he had left for prospects. I guess the broader point is withholding the guy's praise until he's actually accomplished something. Trading marginal major leaguers for marginal prospects is so much putting fresh bread on the shelves, and the bread may be full of unhealthy preservatives. I am thinking not only are these "bad for business moves" in the short term, but I'm not sold on the "good baseball moves" at this point.
    Hang on...they WHIFFED on the Pence & Bourn deals?!? Since when?

    In the Pence deal, they got what are now their #1 prospect prior to the draft (Singleton), #3 (Cosart), #7 (Santana) & #26 (Zied).

    In the Bourn deal, they got their current CF'er (Schafer), #5 prospect (Clemens), #8 (Oberholtzer), and #17 (Abreu)

    That is NOT whiffing. That's doing exactly what they intended...restocking.


    In my opinion, other than the horrid drafting they've done, their downfall started with the trades for Tejada & Valverde. Those deals started the trend of trading multiple prospects for aging vets.
    Last edited by _Sir_Charles_; 07-28-2012 at 01:13 PM.
    Chapman to the rotation!!!! Do it already!!!!


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