Kepner: Astros begin again, starting with youth and hope
From Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on August 12, 2012, with mention of SABR member Sig Mejdal:
After a franchise-record 106 losses last season, the Astros have endured a sobering summer, including a 4-34 spiral from June 28 through last Thursday. It was the worst 38-game stretch in the National League since the Cleveland Spiders finished the 1899 season by going 1-40.
The Spiders were contracted out of the league the next season. The Astros, too, are leaving the N.L., for a new home in the American League West in 2013. The move will balance the leagues, with 15 teams in each, and Major League Baseball insisted on it as a condition of the sale to [Jim] Crane.
Fans persuaded Crane to keep the name Astros, but other big changes are coming next season. The uniforms will be different (expect a return of the color orange), and the team will consider removing some of the forced quirks at the ballpark, including the hill in play in distant center field.
Symbolically, the most significant change might be in Luhnow’s office. Most general managers have depth charts of all 30 teams and their own farm clubs covering their walls for quick visual reference. Luhnow hates them.
“That board was in the office that I inherited back in December, and one of the first things I did was ask them to take it out,” he said. “Depth charts are something that I can get online at the stroke of a button.”
Luhnow, 45, joined the Astros from St. Louis, where he had been the Cardinals’ vice president for scouting and player development, despite having a background in business, not baseball, until 2003. His drafts consistently produced useful major leaguers, even though the Cardinals usually picked after most teams. That track record appealed to Crane, who inherited what may have been baseball’s most barren farm system.
Luhnow believes in traditional scouting but also has deep faith in analytics, like the front office of the N.B.A.’s Houston Rockets, where Postolos was the team president. Luhnow works closely with several so-called decision scientists, including a member of the Society for American Baseball Research [Sig Mejdal] and a former author for Baseball Prospectus [Mike Fast]. On Saturday, he named Mike Elias, a 29-year-old Yale graduate who worked for him in St. Louis, as amateur scouting director.
Related link: Sig Mejdal takes on unique role for Houston Astros (January 31, 2012)
This page was last updated August 13, 2012 at 10:14 am MST.