How much longer can the Houston Astros get a free pass?
The franchise was clearly in need of a makeover a few years back, and has been praised for its commitment to the rebuilding effort. From their farm system to their scouting department, even all the way down to their new logo and uniforms, the team has generally got positive reviews for the changes it’s made.
But the fact is this: Houston has the worst record in baseball for the third straight-season. To be fair, that is completely by design, but when does rebuilding just turn into losing?
I’d say when you start to trade away cheap, productive players with multiple years of team control. Players like Bud Norris.
While Norris isn’t the guy who’s going to lead the Astros back into contention, he’s certainly good enough to help. He has a 3.93 ERA and has posted a quality start in 13 of his 21 outings this year. Despite moving to the American League, he’s having quite the bounce back from a rough 2012.
He’s also 28-years-old, making a modest (in baseball terms) $3 million and won’t be a free agent until 2016. That doesn’t sound like the kind of guy a team should be itching to get rid of.
But, exactly what makes Bud Norris a valuable piece to the future of the Astros makes him a hot commodity on the market. With Matt Garza already off the block, there are a lot of teams looking to add starting pitching and not many sellers out there.
I’m not saying Houston should make Norris completely off limits, it’s just gonna look sketchy if they don’t get something in return that can help them in the short term. Swapping Bud for lower level prospects basically would say the Astros are raising the white flag for another two seasons.
How patient can they expect the fan base to be? John Burgess expressed his doubts at Climbing Tal’s Hill earlier this week, and I have to believe a lot of die hard Astros fans are starting to feel the same way.
The Jose Altuve extension was the first step to this franchise being committed to putting together a winner. What they do with Bud Norris could either be another step toward that goal, or delay the process another couple years.