Earlier this evening Peter Gammons took to Twitter to discuss the Astros current rebuilding philosophy and unless he had the most impressive butt tweeting incident of all time he has some harsh words for the way the Astros are doing business:
If I'm an ALE or ALC owner, Houston's plan to have no payroll, lose,get the 1-2 pick 4 years in a row and still steal revenue-sharing $--— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 19, 2013
may guarantee 3 teams in the AL West win 90 games and make the playoffs, and spit on the integrity of the sport. Fellow big market teams who— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 19, 2013
have payrolls under $40M should 1.not get revenue-sharing and 2. be out of the protected pick business. Rewarding trying to lose is wrong— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 19, 2013
Shortly after Gammons tweeted these comments my Twitter feed was ablaze with Astros fans who didn't take to kindly to his words.
First, as Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noted in this article the effect of the Astros now being in the American League West is being overplayed. I also think the strength of the division is being overplayed. Aside from the American League East being a tough division year in and year out the strength of divisions have a tendency to shift from year to year. Angels players are a year older and it's going to be very difficult for Mike Trout to repeat his spectacular rookie season. The Athletics got by on a rotation primarily consisting of rookies and operate on a tight budget. And the Rangers lost Josh Hamiliton, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz is involved in the Biogenesis investigation. It is possible that the AL West is again the toughest division in baseball but there's also a real good chance it won't be.
Second, revenue sharing isn't as simple as the team with the lowest payroll being the beneficiary of the program. There is a lot more involved...a lot more. Besides, if it's true that the Astros have lost money the last five years and the Astros get some revenue sharing money then the system is working as intended and working as collectively bargained. Plain and simple If the Astros are stashing away cash then the they're not going to get revenue sharing, if they're not and they are losing money then they are going to get it. Either way by 2016 the Astros will be exempt from getting revenue sharing money so in effect the CBA will work itself out in a few years.
Third, I don't understand the "being out of the protected pick business." I'm assuming Gammons is referring to the draft which if the Astros are going for a top pick in the first place, why would they not sign that pick?
Finally, I'm not so sure Gammons premise is wrong. Yes, I understand the strategy the Astros are employing and no I don't have 10 million dollars to contribute to the payroll but I do watch 150+ Astros games. Crane is absolutely right, the Astros are a privately owned business with a public flair and he shouldn't care what the public and media say about how he runs the team, in that regard, I shouldn't care about Jim Cranes financial stability. What I should care about is the Astros winning and the Astros did a poor job of that last year and look to do a poor job of that again this year.
This team will be good again but that doesn't mean I or any other fan have to accept the Astros payroll, just like Crane doesn't have to accept my view on how the team should be run.