Grantland: Astros 'Have Nowhere To Go But Up'

Over at Grantland, Jonah Keri has an interesting look at the monumental rebuilding effort the Houston Astros new front office has embarked upon:

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Which leaves us where we are today. And it's not pretty: a major league roster woefully short on talent; a farm system that's only now starting to recover from years of neglect; a move to the American League next season that will put the Astros in direct competition with the suddenly mighty Rangers and Angels, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Tigers also looming as fierce competition. So what's a team with hopes of being relevant sometime in the next decade to do?

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The first step, says new GM Jeff Luhnow (hired away from St. Louis), is simply to catch up to other teams' brainpower. It's been a decade since a twentysomething front-office assistant named Chris Antonetti created DiamondView, a proprietary database that the Indians used to track all manner of statistical, scouting, and injury data on major and minor league players. Now multiple other teams have built their own proprietary data - the Red Sox, A's, Rays, and those pesky rivals in St. Louis, to name a few - leaving the Astros behind in the front-office talent race.

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There's no reason not to do things differently - not after a season in which the Astros lost more games than any other team, and struggled off the field too. There might be more short-term pain ahead, as the team shops veterans like Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers for prospects rather than risks losing them outright to free agency. The team's record could lag behind the credentials of its front office for the next several years. But if the Astros haven't hit bottom yet, they will soon. After that, there's nowhere to go but up.

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Astros fever -- have you caught it yet?

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