Justice takes a break from writing about...everything else to put some words together about the finanical state of the Astros, and how that's going to be reflected in the 2010 lineup:
In a lot of ways, the Astros are making the tough decisions they should have made two years ago. Instead of patching the roster with old guys, they've decided to give some younger players a chance.
But they're not going into a full tear-down mode because of previous contract mistakes. Carlos Lee has a no-trade clause, which is unimportant because the $55.5 million remaining on his contract means the Astros couldn't give him away.
So the Astros are going to get better and cheaper where they can. If you're looking for positives, it's that they could be dramatically better defensively with Tommy Manzella at short and Jason Castro at catcher. I'm guessing Edwin Maysonet will end up at second and Chris Johnson at third...
...Would it be better to blow the roster up and start over? Sure it would. But unless he has a dramatic change of heart, Drayton isn't going to allow Wade to trade Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt.
I've said this before, though I'm not going to sift through 2551 posts (yep) to find it. The Astros have too much money on the books to go into Rebuilding mode. Teams that rebuild have payrolls of $40-60 million. Teams that rebuild don't have $59 million tied up in five players. So Ed Wade (who may or may not have a Long-Term plan) will try to catch lightning in a bottle and win a winnable division - especially if Boras rips Holliday out of St. Louis. Hopefully he won't do it by trying to get Smoltz to come to Houston, and let the younger guys learn on the job.
To get fans interested in the Astros again, they'll need to see that there's some team-building going on. We want to see the guys we've heard about in the farm system for four and five years play. We don't want to see Russ Ortiz. We don't want to see the Astros bring in David Wells.
The Crawfish Boxes seem to agree (Note: this post was written before I read their take):
It's too true, and too sad. Does no one in the Astros front office, marketing, business, public relations, common sense departments not see it this way at all? Drayton is pretty much agreeing to lock himself into a viscous cycle where he blames poor revenue (read: fan attendance) and then cuts costs. Thereby making the team worse—ostensibly, for now—and further driving down fan attendance. Who wins in this scenario?
I'll put forth that the Common Sense Department was cut a couple of years ago.