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Will Astros Owner Drayton McLane Blow Up the Team?

Rebuilding.  If you're Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, that's a dangerous word.  You don't talk about rebuilding.  You talk about winning championships.  Rebuilding doesn't put butts in the seats.  Star players, hometown favorites, that's how you sell tickets.

But what happens when those hometown favorites don't play by the script?  When Roy Oswalt demands ...requests...  ...says he might like a trade?  When Lance Berkman admits to the press that the team simply has a bad offense?  When the fans aren't buying the company line anymore because the team has simply lost too much for too long?

At some point, you have to wake up and admit that it's time... don't you?

ESPN's Jayson Stark isn't convinced Drayton is ready.

We found that in the 17 years that McLane has owned the Astros, his team has traded a veteran player in July or August just three times.

Two of them were your basic it's-time-to-move-on giveaway deals -- Pudge Rodriguez to Texas last year and Morgan Ensberg to San Diego in 2007, both for players to be named later. The third deal was the 2007 trade of setup man Dan Wheeler to Tampa Bay for a third baseman to replace Ensberg, Ty Wigginton. But that's it.

...there isn't a single example of a deal that would remotely resemble the trading of Oswalt this summer.

Okay, so there isn't a historical precedent.  But here's something else which has no precedent in McLane's tenure as the owner of the Houston Astros: Consecutive losing seasons.  And that's where this team, it appears, is headed.  Furthermore, when was the last time one of the team's biggest stars requested a trade?

So here's the discussion question I have for you.  Is there a point when Drayton McLane will admit that it's time to rebuild?  Is there a point when he will send off multiple impact players to other teams in return for prospects and/or young major leaguers under team control?  It doesn't necessarily have to be Roy Oswalt.  It could be players like Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Lance Berkman, or even Hunter Pence.

If there is a point when McLane would approve trading more than one of those players, what will it take to reach it?  It's hard to imagine how things could get much more conducive to such a situation.  The Astros are in last place in the National League, and fighting hard to have the worst record in Major League Baseball.  If the team sustains this pace leading up to the July 31st trade deadline, is that enough to tip the scales?

Or is it more likely that McLane approves dealing only one impact player (like Oswalt) and continues to put forth the facade that this team can be competitive next season, even without one of its best players?

I should say that I'm not asking this in a negative, pessimistic, "let's just give up on this terrible team" sense.  I really believe in a farm-first mentality, and I believe that we need to start producing good players from the minor league system before we can become competitive again.  I would be excited and happy to see new top prospects enter our system, even at the expense of some of our favorite major league players.  I'd follow the progress of those prospects eagerly.  I would also be excited to see players like Oswalt and Berkman finally get another shot at the postseason, even if it's with another team.

Our line in the off-season on behalf of the front office was that it was worthwhile to hold onto the veterans and be somewhat competitive while rebuilding, which is why most of us weren't in favor of tearing things down and selling the team's best players for prospects.  But the fact is, this team is not somewhat competitive.  We're 12.5 games back at the end of May.

So what say you, Astros fans?  Is it time to rebuild?  If so, what will it take to convince Drayton McLane to do so?