Monday's Three Astros Things

Talking about CSN Houston, Jeff Luhnow and Branch Rickey and some site updates...

Some things to talk about while we console ourselves after Altuve lost #FaceofMLB...

1) Royal, again, on CSN Houston

Not sure how to respond to this. It appears there could be "hope" flooding into the CSN Houston mess. John Royal over at the Houston Press compares the Astros situation to the Orioles, which Jonah Keri describes here. After running through the similarities, Royal draws this conclusion:

If the Orioles and MASN are an example, then CSN Houston can be a huge cash cow for the Houston Astros. It's going to take a little patience for the Astros (and some short term money losses), but the promise is there.

We are not lawyers. Well, there may be law-affiliated writers on this site. I'm not sure. But, I know that I am not a lawyer. So, when discussing this incredibly detailed, incredibly large-scoped RSN deal Houston has struggled with for years now, I tend to simplify. It's all about carriage deals. It's all tied into the bankruptcy.

It's not that simple. Royal does a great job of illustrating that. While it may be asking a lot of Jim Crane to be patient, it's certainly asking a lot of Astros and Rockets fans.

2) Luhnow cribbing from Rickey?

I'm currently running through Dollar Sign on the Muscle, which Baseball Prospectus so gallantly reprinted this year, complete with a forward by Astros scouting guy Kevin Goldstein, and am having lots of thoughts. I love books like this, where I can read it and just have connections fire all over the place on other topics.

It's still early in the book, but one of the first chapters deals with scouting before 1981 (when the book takes place). In the brief overview of scouting, it talks about what Branch Rickey did in building up the first "farm systems." Rickey wanted to build "qualilty out of quantity," meaning if he bought enough players, eventually the cream rises to the top.

That's exactly what Jeff Luhnow and his team are trying to do with the Astros minor league system. Not only did they quickly work to flood the system with prospect depth (quantity), they've continued to do so. So what if they have a glut of second basemen? Let's add Torreyes and Tony Kemp. Instead of spending a bunch on one player in the draft, let's turn Carlos Correa's below slot deal into multiple high school guys.

Luhnow is also reaching out to other untapped sources to accomplish that same purpose. If other teams aren't scouting the Mexican Leagues carefully, Houston was going to snap up the best of the best there. In effect, they added a new level of their farm system with those two signings of Japhet Amador and Leo Heras.

Oh, and it's also exactly what the Astros are doing in the Dominican. Instead of signing the top of the heap guys for multiple IFA slots, they're getting quantity. They're signing a bunch of 16-year-old kids and seeing which ones rise to the top.

Basically, what I realized is that Luhnow's plan isn't new, but it has been proven to work before. It's incredibly encouraging and shows that even if Luhnow didn't have a ton of "baseball experience," he does understand how to build a farm uncannily well.

All this has happened before and all will happen again.

3) TCB gets hectic

Well, TCB is shaking off its winter rust and getting into gear. As you may have noticed, our posting frequency is heating up. Later this week, Tim will unveil the 2014 version of TCB's March Madness, which means there will be plenty of voting and posting going on with that. We've got the daily link(s) going up along with much, much more analysis and the like. We've also got a few new writers who will be coming on board soon.

So, make sure to stop back by a few times each day, including in the afternoon. At least for now, we'll probably be pushing this feature back into the afternoon to give our morning content some time to be seen. You're excited by spring training. We're excited by spring training. We'll try to bring you some cool ways to talk about the game.

Thanks, too, to all our commenters and readers. One of the big reasons why this is exciting is that we get to talk Astros baseball with all of you again. It makes this job very, very easy and enjoyable.

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