Buying the Astros' Plan Lock, Stock & Barrel

Bob Levey

With 17 games left, Terri Schlather looks at a season that has been about one thing, and one thing only...and that wasn't winning. It was about buying into the plan.

17 games.

That's all there is left in the Houston Astros 2013 season.

Honestly, I don't know whether to be sad to see baseball come to a close for "my" team this season or if I should be rejoicing, glad to be rid of this bullpen, the national media attention, the strikeout record, the pointing and laughing, the absolute pain of watching this team lose so many games that they were in til the bitter end.

I know this much about 2013, from a fan's perspective it was about one singular thing - rebuilding from the bottom up. Don't get me wrong, the process began in 2012 when Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow & Co relocated to Minute Maid Park, but this season? It was about educating the fans to the process and getting all of us to buy into it.

Yes, there have been just as many losses. Yes, they traded away everyone they could sell. But do you feel like you understand it better? Do you find yourself defending the Astros and their reconstruction plan to random friends and people in line at the grocery store when they start berating the Astros? I do.

It's as if all the times Luhnow and Bo Porter have talked about the young players in the minors who are doing so well and developing at the expected pace actually sunk in. Huh.

There have been a lot of things written this year, on Crawfish Boxes and other sports sites, about the Astros' reconstruction plan. Some have praised it. Some have berated it. But whether the plan is seen as something that will save the day or sink the ship is really neither here nor there at this point. It's too soon to claim success or failure and we're likely at least one more season from that.

What all those articles did do was inform us. And if politicians believe that a better informed electorate will choose the right candidate, I believe a better informed fan base will be slightly more patient. Maybe that was Jeff Luhnow's plan all along? Inform us, educate us and we'll begin waiting and watching.

Seriously. How many of us that never paid attention to the minors before can now name at least 10 players in AAA or AA? *raises hand*

How many of us that never cared what the organization's minor league winning percentage was now use that as part of our defense of the team when talking to that naysayer in line at the grocery store? *raises hand*

How many of us that cared so deeply before about our favorite players suddenly saw the value in trading them for prospects? *raises hand*

Yep, Jeff Luhnow sold us on his plan this season, that's for sure.

It was still a crappy year to watch the Astros play baseball. There have been glimpses of greatness, for certain. I will never forget Jarred Cosart's major league debut, or Jonathan Villar stealing home. There have been moments when we all said, "See, right there - that's the kind of talent that's coming."

Despite those moments we've also thrown our fair share of insults at the bullpen and at silly mistakes and youthful miscalculations. The team is 49-96 and on pace to go 55-107.

But in some ways the season hasn't been a complete loss, after all, we're all standing in line to pay for our milk and convincing the guy behind us that Jeff Luhnow has a plan.

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