Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/20/14

After yesterday's trade of Jed Lowrie to the Athletics, a new narrative is popping up around the Houston Astros by some mainstream writers: the team is an embarrassment that makes the A's and Marlins look like big spenders. Much is being made about Houston's payroll in 2013, which will likely end up around $25 million on Opening Day. But because the team isn't spending money, are they an embarrassment? The Astros haven't been to the playoffs since 2005, when they won the NL pennant. Houston hasn't finished above .500 since 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the Astros spent $195 million on payroll, and went 150-174. Over the last two years, the Astros spent $137 million on payroll, and went 111-213. Over the next two years, they'll probably spend about half (or less) than they did from 2011-12, and there's really no way to get worse than 111-213. So if you're the Astros, why *wouldn't* you divert money from the major league payroll to give the team a better future? All that money Houston spent on their major league roster in 2009 and 2010 came at the expense of their farm system, which was one of the worst in the game before Jeff Luhnow rolled into town. Going into 2013, Houston's farm system was ranked fourth by ESPN's Keith Law. The Astros weren't winning anything with high-priced veterans like Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, and Roy Oswalt. They weren't winning anything with younger players that were getting expensive like Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Wandy Rodriguez. So why *not* blow it all up and start from scratch? If you added someone like Kyle Lohse or Michael Bourn, the two best free agents on the market right now, to the 2013 Astros, what's that going to do for them? Neither player is going to transform the team into contenders. Signing players like that under former GM Ed Wade is what got the team into the mess they're in right now. Is there a huge difference between a 55 win Astros team with a $25 million payroll, and a 58 win Astros team with a $35 million payroll? Of course not, except for the $10 million being invested in the major league roster that could be invested in the future instead. Jeff Luhnow has a plan. While Wade was the guy who dealt Berkman, Oswalt, Pence, and Bourn for varying degrees of prospects, Luhnow is the guy who spun Melancon into Lowrie (and then moved Lowrie a year later for even more talent), and traded guys like Rodriguez, Lee, Brett Myers, and Chris Johnson for packages of quantity rather than quality. Luhnow was also at the helm of the Astros for their stellar 2012 draft after years of boring, disappointing drafts under Wade. You know what another team that tore everything down and started over was after years of ridiculous spending? The Tampa Bay Rays, who slashed payroll to under $30 million for three straight years between 2003 and 2005 after spending heavily during their first few years in existence and never *not* losing 90 games in a year. Over the last five years, with a new braintrust in place, the Rays have four 90 win seasons, three playoff berths, and haven't finished under .500. Is Carlos Correa going to be Houston's Evan Longoria? Is Lance McCullers going to be the Astros version of David Price? Probably not. But there's a better chance of that happening than there is of the Astros somehow becoming a contender by flushing money down the drain by signing veteran free agents. The Astros aren't an embarrassment by any stretch of the imagination. Yeah, they're going to have an awful record in 2013, and they probably won't be any good in 2014 either. But an embarrassment? Naw. An embarrassment is when a team like the Red Sox spends $175 million on payroll and loses 93 games. The Astros spent $115 million less than the Red Sox on their major league roster in 2012, and lost 14 more games. I don't call that embarrassing...I call it downright intelligent. [follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Titus Young avoids prison, receives probation

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland to golf community

Harris sues Mayweather for $20M for lying in an interview with Katie Couric

The NBA needs to leave 'hack-a-whoever' rules alone

Top Rank threatens to sue over Mayweather-Pacquiao piracy

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Titans already tailoring offense to suit Mariota's strengths

Pettine: Manziel isn't favorite for Browns' starting QB job

Randy Gregory denies 'weed problem,' says he's immature

Jameis Winston wants Bucs to sign LSU OT La'El Collins

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Eagles coach Chip Kelly made a mess at quarterback

No homers, no problem for Cubs' Kris Bryant

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

NFL releases times and dates for preseason slate

Fans file $5M class action suit against Pacquiao over injury

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Brandon Prust sorry for saying referee ‘tries to play God’

Ron Roenicke and the career afterlives of fired managers

Knicks announcer's MVP ballot had Curry behind Marc Gasol

Edelman mocks Belichick in Cinco de Mayo tweet

Projecting the 2015 MLB All-Star Game rosters after April

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

David Blatt: ‘No excuses’ for Cavaliers’ Game 1 loss to Bulls

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Projecting the All-Star Game rosters

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

What’s next for the Spurs?

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

NFL has Los Angeles Rams webpage

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.