The Astros had a plan that was too good to fail. So good, in fact, that they left no room for what would happen when it did.
As the clock struck seven on the evening of June 5th, the Houston Astros stared with wide eyes at a deep draft board. The organization held a handful of early picks and $13,362,200 in available spending, the most of any team, putting it in an position to load up its minor-league system with high-level draft talent. But 42 days and 22 hours after the Astros announced the first selection of the 2014 draft, the front office somehow found itself with one of the lightest pulls of the draft, a bruised reputation, and public scorn from both the MLB Players’ Association and one of the game’s most high profile agents.
Reviewing the transactions we didn't write about but, in retrospect, wish we had.
Although we've published more than 100 Transaction Analysis columns since November, the reality is not every signing or waiver claim gets covered. Most of those missed transactions amount to nothing, but a few result in larger impacts than expected. Here are five uncovered moves that yielded good returns during the first half, along with what we would have written if we had covered them at the time, and what we should have written if we'd focused on exactly the right details.
Updates on Kyle Schwarber, Francisco Mejia, Lance McCullers Jr., and others.
The Monday Morning Ten Pack is brought to you by Sidsgraphs.com. SidsGraphs specializes in memorabilia and game-used items from baseball's top prospects! Visit Sidsgraphs.com today or visit their retail store in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Rather than re-printing the BP Prospect Staff Midseason Top 50 debates—much of which involves discussion of multiple players at the same time—we thought it would be interesting to call out some of the more interesting pairings of players who have been in consideration for the #BPTop50 and allow an advocate for each to make his case as to why that player should be ranked ahead of the other.
The Astros call up the outfielder they stole from Philadelphia.
The Situation: On Sunday, Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow indicated that Domingo Santana (the no. 8-ranked prospect in the system entering 2014) still had some developing to do in Triple-A. But with outfielder Dexter Fowler finding himself on the 15-day disabled list, the Astros have a need for an outfielder already on the 40-man roster. Checking off both of those prerequisites, Santana was summoned to the big leagues from Triple-A Oklahoma City and debuted with a three-strikeout, 0-for-4 performance on Tuesday.
Background: Santana, acquired by the previous regime in Houston, came to the Astros as the fourth and final piece of the trade that sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies. Santana didn’t become a member of the Astros organization until two weeks after the trade went down, having originally been listed as player to be named later. But it's still puzzling that the Astros were able to acquire Santana, who has been tapping into his raw power since entering pro ball as a 16-year-old. It might have been a mistake on Philadelphia’s part, and not in the figurative sense, if you believe this report (and not this denial).
Looks at the mechanics of two of the Astros' surprise successes, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.
The Astros have unearthed a couple of legitimate All-Star candidates in their rotation this season, and though neither pitcher fits the “high-ceiling prospect mold” that has become characteristic of the franchise, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh have quickly ascended from afterthoughts to valuable assets for the organization. Is their performance merely a blip on the radar, with regression looming to take each of them down a peg, or are there legitimate reasons to get excited about either of these two pitchers? Let's dig in.
Why all the incentives are aligned in favor of contracts like the Astros' new first baseman's, and how that could change.
Leave it to the Astros, a team that's spent the last few years sending fans running to the record books, to the legal dictionary, and occasionally to the therapist, to be the team that in 2014 is sending us back to economics class.
Their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, has both an undergraduate business degree and a Kellogg MBA. Their assistant GM, David Stearns, came from the salary arbitration and collective bargaining team at MLB headquarters. Down the depth chart, their baseball operations analyst, Brandon Taubman, came from the derivatives trading world. Hell, their analogue of a traveling secretary (on this team a more comprehensive “manager of team operations”), Dan O’Neill, per his bio:
The Situation: Heading into yesterday’s game, Houston first basemen were hitting .181/.269/.291 as a group. With Singleton boasting a .267/.397/.544 line for Triple-A Oklahoma City and his contract extension freshly signed, the Astros summoned him to the majors to provide some pop—and in his debut, he did.