On Wednesday night the Astros game in Toronto was aired by ESPN2 which meant far more fans could see it than usual. The analyst on the telecast was Eduardo Perez who had served as Houston’s bench coach in 2013. Consequently, Perez had far more information about the club, how manager Bo Porter thinks, its top prospects and the management plan than any other network analyst in the game right now.
Last year while working for the Astros Eduardo could not have been so out spoken about the club and certainly none of the team’s regular announcers can dare say everything they feel while on the air. But on Wednesday Perez could…and did.
Most Astro fans couldn’t have been happier. Perez praised the organization for its scouting, drafting and development efforts. But he also felt in some case the team is too slow in putting the best talent on the field.
It was quite apparent from his comments that he feels George Springer should be learning in the major leagues now. The club is not stacked with veteran players holding long term contracts in the outfield. Springer’s upside is felt to be considerably higher than Grossman, Hoes or Presley who really figure to be part timers in the big picture.
Perez was also effusive in his praise of Carlos Correa. He all but called him a superstar in the making. While only chronologically nineteen years old Perez pointed out his maturity as well as skill. It was not hard to read that Eduardo does not think moving Correa step by step through the minors is warranted based on his skill set.
Ah, but then skepticism has to set in. How much are the Astros concerned about saving money than winning as soon as possible? By delaying on Springer, which was not hard to do after a unspectacular spring training, his eligibility for arbitration and free agency is pushed back. Instead of using one of those seasons with Springer learning on the major league level, let him at least start another season in the minors so when he comes up he won’t have as much to learn. There is some logic in that both financially and in player development. But is there enough to off set the fact that the Astros as now constructed will still be a strong candidate to lose 100 games again? Isn’t the Houston Astros major league baseball club the most important part of the whole system? Pardon me Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi and Lancaster and all, but having your teams be good does nothing for the big club unless it is good too.
Certainly the Astros cash flow is nowhere it needs to be. Their contract with Comcast is not being honored and thanks only in part to their low coverage few seem to be watching. That, however, is not the whole story. Even with only 40% of Houston able to watch the games that is still about 500,000 homes. To have a 0.0 rating for last Monday afternoon’s game with the Angels means almost none of those 500,000 were tuned in. Yes, a night game would have resulted in a number, but the fact is there is no fervor for the Astros. The total lack of interest on Houston SportsTalk radio and television sportscasts has been spreading.
Bringing up George Springer and moving Carlos Correa through the system quicker along with some of the strong armed pitchers won’t solve all of the many problems. But they won’t make things worse…unless…and I hate to offer this possibility…but unless Springer or Correa or any of the young pitchers find minor league success doesn’t translate to major league stardom. That would be the real tragedy and not just for those players, but for baseball in Houston as a whole.