Monday's Three Astros Things

Bob Levey

Talking about Luhnow's time to build the farm, a trade in Oakland and David Carpenter on the move again...

Some things to talk about while you read through Tim's compilation of minor league awards...

1) Will Luhnow have enough time?

This is turning into a surprisingly Tim-dominated start to the Three Things, but he linked to an interesting piece on FanGraphs Sunday talking about the Cardinals farm system success. Looking at this particular Cards team, that lost both Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman but still has made it to the NLCS, the farm system has played a huge role.

That should be a great sign for Houston fans, since the architect of that system was Jeff Luhnow, who is now plying his trade for the Astros. From the time he was named as Director of Player Procurement in 2005 until he was named Houston's 12th general manager last November, Luhnow did a great job at stocking the Cardinals farm system.

But, over that stretch, the Cards only had one season below .500 and had an average winning percentage of .541. Twice they finished with 90 or more wins and once more they had 100 wins. In that environment, Luhnow had a ton of time to develop things, make picks and wait for guys to develop.

That's not the case for Houston, who had a winning percentage of .472 in the years when Luhnow was with the Cardinals and zero seasons with 90 or more wins. Basically, Luhnow does not have the time to develop a system slowly. He has to get players to the system relatively quickly, or he will find himself without a job.

If we use the Cardinals as a model, Luhnow was able to generate players consistently from year to year, but it took until now, seven years after he was named to his scouting position before the St. Louis team became built on those players. That time line would put Houston in a competitive spot by 2018, which is a long time away.

Will Luhnow have that much time to turn things around? Will some of his move shorten that window? Obviously, time will tell, but it strikes me that he won't have as much time to build in Houston what he did in St. Louis.

2) Chris Young to the A's

Did you see this trade that went down over the weekend? Arizona picked up Heath Bell from the Marlins, sending Chris Young to the A's in exchange for Cliff Pennington and a minor leaguer. Which only makes the Oakland A's all the more scary.

There is a chance that Chris Young just won't fulfill his potential, that injuries and ineffectiveness will mean he's never the player in full that we've seen in flashes. Still, he is a great athlete and a good defender who has the ability to hit for power. That's a nice addition to go along with Cespedes and Josh Reddick, no?

What really bothers me is I was considering writing about how Houston might be well-served to try and buy low on Young. He's a hometown guy who's not owed significant money in the future and would fill a hole in the outfield that has developed. Plus, I think Young may be one of the few outfielders that were on the market who could cover center field in MMP.

Alas, he's gone, and one of Houston's new divisional rivals just got stronger. Bravo, Billy Beane. I'm already starting to dislike you.

3) David Carpenter moving again

Lastly, we had another notable trade go down this weekend, as the Red Sox and Toronto completed negotiations sending manager John Farrell back to Boston for infielder Mike Aviles. What is up with baseball teams suddenly trading front office types and managers for players? Are non-players the new market inefficiency?

Regardless, the reason I bring it up is former catcher, former Luhnow guy and former traded Astro David Carpenter is on the move again, getting added to Boston's side of the trade with Farrell. That marks the third time Carpenter has been traded in his short career, which is once more than J.A. Happ has been traded, improbably.

I always liked Carp and hope to see him do well, but if Boston is trying to put together the 2011 Astros bullpen, with Carp and Melancon in place already, they might not get back to the playoffs any time soon. Just sayin'.

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