A Hot Take roundup for your Sunday morning
*Even if the front office played by the rules, the Astros have a long road back to credibility as questions linger for all parties to answer in a sweeping drama that could eventually bring significant change to the draft and its medical information process.
*It looks bad (for Luhnow), being out of the country. What good would it have done for Luhnow to return? Probably none. It's an image matter, and the Astros haven't been good about controlling their image, from things like this to bigger matters. They don't draw the benefit of the doubt.
*Close can berate Luhnow if he likes, but a case could be made that the adviser might have been better off getting their own doctor to examine Aiken first, or perhaps even getting the Astros to sign off on a doctor of their choosing. If Close finds the Astros so sketchy, as he seems to from his 'conversation' with Luhnow, the question may be asked whether he should have trusted the exam to the team, where anything could happen to lower the pre-arranged $6.5 million deal...Luhnow understands the 'delay' is not a positive. It certainly isn't for a team that has had the worst record in baseball three years running, and whose fans deserve a medal for patience as they await the fruits of the grand plan.
*It's just that as of July 18, 2014, there's no way to say it other than that 2014 has been catastrophic for the Astros in terms of having three straight top overall picks.
*They may have their reputation among agents and future draft picks substantially damaged. Of course, it's also the case that we don't know - and likely can't know due to confidentiality concerns - what the Astros saw in Aiken's elbow. If it was legitimately serious, well, maybe they're just being prudent. At the same time, Casey Close is not a bomb-thrower, and his reaction to all of this was pretty sharp. That he is as angry with the team as he has been suggests some seriously toxic dealings between the parties that may read in his favor and negatively towards the Astros.
*Between wasted years of development, tying two other players to Aiken's slot money, Houston whiffed on most important part of its rebuild.
*This is the kind of thing that does more than slow the franchise's momentum toward being competitive. To Aiken - and others in the industry - there may be questions about whether Luhnow negotiated the original deal in good faith, and that kind of damage can take years to repair. Luhnow will have plenty of chances to do just that in the years ahead. He has said many times that rebuilding a franchise isn't an easy process. He was reminded of that on Friday.
*Now, I don't know if the Astros are handling the Aiken deal on the level. That would take eight more years of school and a functioning brain for me to figure out. But as for the idea that they're guilty of treating players like interchangeable cogs in a giant baseball machine? Of course they do. We all do.