The Astros are bad. They won just 74 games this year, and in fact they were lucky. By run differential, they were a 68-win team.
The Astros are old. Six of their starting eight position players in 2009 were 33 or older. Five of their top six starting pitchers by games started this year were 30 or older.
The Astros minor league system is a wreck. They were rated the absolute worst in baseball going into 2009 by Baseball America, and their comments on the ranking didn't offer much hope for the future either:
State of the System: The Astros come off an 86-win season, but leaner times may be ahead for the franchise, which has an older lineup and is No. 30 on our talent rankings by a fairly wide margin. The organization has drafted cheaply and poorly for most of the last four years, culminating with an '07 class that already ranks as one of the worst in draft history. Houston's historic forays into Venezuela are mostly a thing of the past as well; the organization that once dominated talent acquisition in that country now doesn't even have an academy there and makes little impact internationally anymore.And they have one of the few GMs left who might have competed with Jim Bowden for the title "Worst GM in MLB," Ed Wade. The last couple years of roster management have been just awful down in Houston. When he wasn't getting choked by one of his own players (yes, Chacon is crazy, but who signed him?), he committed these general managerial sins:
- Signed Kaz Matsui for 3 years, $16.5 million.
- Signed--and actually gave starts to--Brian Moehler ($2.3m), Mike Hampton ($2m), Shawn Chacon ($2m), Jack Cassel ($400k), Russ Ortiz (minor league contract), and my favorite, Runelvys Hernandez (minor league contract).
- Picked up the option year on Brian Moehler for another $3 million.
- Passed on re-signing Randy Wolf, who went to the Dodgers for $5m.
- Traded #8 prospect Drew Sutton for Jeff Keppinger.
- Signed old, terrible Geoff Blum to be his starting third baseman for one year and $1.2 million.
- Picked up the $1.2 million club option for older, terribler Blum to be his starting third baseman again.
- Signed the decaying corpse of Brad Ausmus for $2 million to be his starting catcher in 2008.
- Signed the decaying corpse of Pudge Rodriguez for $1.5 million to be his starting catcher in 2009.
- Signed Chris Coste. To start. At first base. (For just a couple weeks while Lance Berkman was hurt, but still.)
- Waited almost two whole years to fire Cecil Cooper.
- Has shown a troubling interest in ex-Nationals, including Ray King, Aaron Boone, and Micah Bowie.
Drafting catcher Jason Castro with the #10 overall pick in 2008 ahead of higher upside guys like Justin Smoak and Brett Wallace was rightly questioned at the time, but Castro played well enough this year to quiet some of that criticism for a while at least.
Bottom line, whoever takes this job is doomed. Just like Manny was doomed here in DC. I know managerial jobs don't come along very often, but, really Manny, you don't want this job.