Richard Justice checks in with a column on the globalization of the Houston Astros:
Last summer, the franchise spent $3 million to sign 16 foreign-born players. Ten of the 16 are Dominicans, but there was at least one signing from South Korea, Italy, Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua.
By comparison, the club spent $5.5 million to sign 36 American-born draft picks, with the top three getting 40 percent of that ($2.2 million).
That's 52 new players in the organization in a year. Somewhere amid the 52, the Astros hope there's another Lance Berkman, another Roy Oswalt and, in the greater numbers, a nudge back in the direction of winning the right way — that is, without being dependent on free agency.
We've spent a lot of time defending Ed Wade and justifying the job he's done to the likes of Ken Rosenthal, but this is just great. The effort that has been taken with Glen Barker on the Pacific Rim is already starting to pay dividends, and the Astros are becoming more of a global presence. When the new facility opens in the Dominican, it will provide a more attractive option for Dominican players and will be a better bargaining chip on behalf of the Astros.
Rosenthal and Neyer might not be able to see it, but Ed Wade is laying the foundation for the Astros for years to come.