Picture from http://magazine.continental.com/archive/images/2007_apr/idea-makers/drayton-mclane-jr.jpg.
Richard Justice made a good blog post about the Astros entitled "If the Astros had less money then, they'd be better off now."
He writes about how the Astros have always been stuck in the middle - we're a mid-market team in a large city that commands the 12th-highest revenues in the MLB. He talks about how those in charge have tried to fix the Astros by addition rather than subtraction, which obviously is a great point.
There are a few questions I want to ask Drayton McLane, Ed Wade, and/or Richard Justice:
1) Did they really think they could compete for a Wild Card spot with Brett Myers as the #3 starter (and two rookies in the 4 and 5 slots), Pedro Feliz at 3B, a green catcher behind the plate, and a rookie at shortstop?
If they genuinely did, then their moves make some sense. I don't think they were realistic in their expectations, and the $14.425mm they're giving to Feliz, Lyon, Lindstrom, and Myers could have been used to pay over-slot in this draft. The economics and expected production for THIS team just don't make sense together.
2) Richard, why not mention Gerry Hunsicker in this piece? He was THE key to our outstanding teams, made shrewd trades, and had the cahones to stand up to Drayton. Our next hire, Purpura, was the beginning of the end for the team. He made some absolutely terrible decisions, and McLane exacerbated the problem by continuing to spend despite no true prospects for playoff appearances. In my mind, the problem all started with Drayton's ego.
3) if the Astros have a dismal April and May, what will happen? Will Drayton try to shake things up and increase attendance by firing Mills, Wade, Sean Berry, Arnsberg, or will he accept this season as this loss as it is and try to move players he wanted to retire in Houston? Has he learned his lessons or will it be more of the same?
Unfortunately, Drayton is the only one who can answer these questions, and my guess is we won't know until the middle of June or the All-Star Break in July. My hope is that we can move one of Oswalt/Berkman/Lee for some prospects and "rebuild." Not sure that word has ever existed in Drayton's dictionary.
Please, eat some of Carlos's salary if that means we can put Bogusevic or Steele in left. Or please trade Oswalt to the Rangers in June and give him the chance to win, if he'll let you.
Tough times ahead, Astros fans.