For the last few days I've been mulling over what would be my in my annual condemnation of something that Drayton McLane does or doesn't do that bugs me as a fan. Last year, I'll admit, I was little on the absurd side. This year my goal will be to focus on the practical instead of the fantastical.
Since Cecil Cooper's firing, and even before that, Drayton McLane stated publicly that he didn't understand why the Astros weren't destroying opponents, because, after all, they had one of the leagues highest payrolls. I'm not sure how much of it was rhetoric, or if any of it was even self-delusion, but those kind of statements frighten me to no end. So this offseason, instead of hoping for Drayton McLane to graciously open up some of his near $1.2 billion in net worth on the free agent market, I'll aim a lot lower.
Drayton McLane seems to be missing a very crucial piece of the puzzle: How much money is spent or how good the team has been in years past, is not actually what determines the on field product. What determines the on field product is the quality of assets that are currently being invested in. It's probably not that far off from the performance of mutual fund. (For a refresher on just how the Astros performed, relative to their salaries, head over to the freely available breakdown at BtB).
It's no secret, the Astros are not a well constructed team. I just linked above to a number of pretty charts that speak this fact, and just about everyone here, at one time or another, has probably cited and elaborated upon several other means of illustrating this point.
However, the actual problem that this organization has been plagued with for the last few years seems to be one that will continue to plague it going forward: Drayton McLane's willingness to bury his head in the sand. When Cooper was fired, Drayton made it clear that it would be just the first of many overhauls to this organization. Yet, it seems like Cooper's firing will be just what Tim Purpura and Phil Garner's firings were in 2007: smoke and mirrors to entice fans into believing that in overhauling the management, and not the team on the field, that things will get better—over night. There seems to be no substance to these moves. They just seem like the impulsive move to cast blame on something other than the problem itself: that the Astros are inefficient and that much is needed to be done to make the efficient. This team doesn't didn't need to have its manager fired, what this team needed was a fresh, intelligent, and above all, realistic approach.
So my hope for this offseason, is that Drayton will have will have a "the buck stops here" moment this offseason (soon would be nice). Without that kind of epiphany, there will be no progress with this ball club in the short term (two-three years). Bobby Heck's draftees can't progress overnight, and we can only expect so much out of Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, and Jason Castro in 2010. What we can, and should expect, from our owner, who is a business savvy man, is for him to understand that there isn't an easy fix with this team; that he can't keep measuring his expectations against the ledger; and that the fate of his franchise is in no one else's hands but his. Because until Drayton learns that it's not about spending more or spending less, he won't focus on spending smartly.
Now, is this so unreasonable of me to wish for?