Front office woes continue to sink ‘Stros

The Astros are not going to win the World Series this year.

I know I’m not reinventing the wheel when I say that, but sometimes the most obvious statements are the ones in dire need of being said.

Since Houston’s magical run to the Fall Classic in 2005, a string of poor front-office decisions has turned the Astros from a contender to an afterthought in arguably the weakest division in Major League Baseball.

In 2006, 30-year-old outfielder Carlos Lee was signed to a 6-year, $100 million contract. The deal was back-loaded, netting Lee $18.5 million over each of the final four years of the contract and making him virtually untradeable.

General manager Ed Wade traded embattled closer Brad Lidge to the Phillies during the 2007 offseason instead of shipping him to the Red Sox. The move came as a bit of a surprise, as several months earlier the Sox had been offering what many baseball insiders considered to be a significantly better package for Lidge.

Next, the front office brought Jason Jennings and Randy Wolf through the revolving door of the Astros’ pitching rotation in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Neither set the world on fire, as both failed to crack 100 innings pitched during their tenures with the team.

The Astros desperately need to rebuild around youth and homegrown talent. Acquiring an aging veteran here and there is a savvy move for teams that are close to making a championship run—not clubs that struggle against the Reds and the Pirates.

While the team does have several intriguing young players, it hasn’t had a can’t-miss prospect in ages. That’s what happens when a team decimates its farm system, choosing instead to trade away youth in pursuit of that one elusive piece that will return it to its glory days.

If the Astros want to stay competitive year in and year out, they need to find a balance between developing young talent and bringing in key free agents.

With Wade signing a 2-year extension in February, however, it looks like the team is content with the status quo of mediocrity. Maybe the Astros can go after Ken Griffey Jr. when his contract is up after the season.

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