Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 2/14/13

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

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Robert Griffin III on QB battle: Only one of us runs 4.3

Gordon defends friendship with 'good friend' Manziel

Geno Smith ‘kind of pissed off’ about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bell admits he knew about missed drug test, lied to media

Report: Chargers rookie Joey Bosa to hold out of camp

Doc Rivers blames ‘bloggers’ for Blake Griffin trade rumors

Jason Peters: Eagles practiced too much under Chip Kelly

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

WATCH: Belichick gets annoyed by Jimmy Garoppolo question

Ronda Rousey denies being pregnant despite rumor

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

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

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker