The Sports Bros.
The real reason the Astros are the worst team in baseball: It all goes back topitiful drafts
Editor's note: The Houston Astros are the worst team in baseball and it's not even close. After Saturday night's 6-1 loss to the Marlins, Houston sits at 30-61, a .330 winning percentage. No other team in the Majors is winning at a less than .414 percent clip.
How did this happen? If you're searching for answers, you need to look to the draft. Here, The Sports Bros. break it down for you.
In the most recent Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, the Astros drafted outfielder George Springer from UConn. Immediately following there was a large outcry on Twitter arguing that Houston should have taken star University of Texas pitcher Taylor Jungmann. He was immediately taken by division rivals Milwaukee Brewers — and was subsequently awarded with the Dick Howser Trophy for player of the year, the Heisman of college baseball.
Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade's biggest challenge when taking over the team was to rebuild the paltry farm system the Astros currently sport. Wade really needs to be right with the Springer pick because Astros fans are growing restless with first round picks that don't pan out — and new owner-to-be Jim Crane doesn't figure to be patient with an inherited GM. There is no farm system to speak of and nothing being added to it to make it better.
There are still great players in every draft. Houston just always seems to miss them.
So let's be masochistic and take a look back over the past 20 years and compare the Astros' first round picks to other notable draftees. Yes, we know this exercise is painful. We know that baseball draftees don't have a high success rate.
But as you'll see, there are still great players in every draft. Houston just always seems to miss them.
Astros Pick: John Burke (sixth overall) RHP, Shawn Livesey (29th) SS, Jimmy Gonzalez (40th) - C
Could Have Had: Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green, Doug Glanville
John Burke was the only Astro pick out of those to play a Major League game — and he only played 29 of them. Manny? Twelve time All-Star, two rings and a World Series MVP.
Astros Pick: Phil Nevin (1st) - 3B, Kendall Rhine - RHP
Could Have Had: Derek Jeter, Jason Kendall, Johnny Damon
Nevin was a solid major leaguer, so it's tough to complain ... but it IS Derek Jeter. In 2011, you can't imagine him in anything but pinstripes, and he could have been in astronaut Astro unis.
Astros Pick: Billy Wagner (12th) - LHP
Could Have Had: Chris Carpenter, Derek Lee, Torii Hunter
Tough to argue with drafting a future Hall of Famer. Alex Rodriguez went first overall. If it wasn't for him, Astros would have taken the best player in the draft.
Astros Pick: Ramon Castro (17th) - C, Scott Elarton (25th) - RHP, Russ Johnson (30th) - SS
Could Have Had: Troy Glaus
The Astros narrowly missed on being able to draft stars like Nomar Garciaparra and Paul Konerko, taken just before the Astros had a pick. They did eventually acquire C.J. Nitkowski who was taken ninth overall. Considering how thin this first and second round was, it wasn't a terrible draft. All three picks had major league time.
Astros Pick: Tony McKnight (22nd) - RHP
Could Have Had: Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Beltran, Sean Casey
First overall was Darin Erstad — a solid pick and future Astro — until you see that juggernaut Phillies' pitcher Roy Halladay was taken 17th. McKnight pitched a cool 21 major league games.
Astros Pick: Mark Johnson (19th) - RHP
Could Have Had: Jake Westbrook, Jason Marquis, Jimmy Rollins
Another failed attempt at finding a RHP. Let's not even get started on Jimmy Rollins.
Astros Pick: Lance Berkman (16th) - 1B
Could Have Had: Jayson Werth, Randy Wolf
Berkman will end up being the best player from the first two rounds of the '97 draft, period. Future Hall of Famer. Rice grad. Great pick here.
Astros Pick: Brad Lidge (17th) - RHP, Mike Nannini (37th) - RHP
Could Have Had: CC Sabathia, Aaron Rowand, Adam Dunn
Brad Lidge was the man in Houston until Albert Pujols became his kryptonite. Wonderful pick, but hard to see hometown Dunn pass. Dunn and Berkman could have been playing side-by-side.
Astros Pick: Mike Rosamond (42nd) - OF
Could Have Had: Brian Roberts, Carl Crawford, Brandon Phillips
Houston lost its original first round pick because it signed free agent Ken Caminiti. The Astros gained one back because they failed to retain free agent Randy Johnson. Late round pick, '99 was a year to make the best of whatever you could.
Astros Pick: Robert Stiehl (27th) - RHP
Could Have Had: Adam Wainwright, Xavier Nady, Joel Hanrahan
Stiehl was injured for all of 2002 and never played in the majors. Wainwright was a Cy Young finalist back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. Of note, Jason Bourgeois, who now plays for the Astros, was taken in the second round by the Rangers.
Astros Pick: Chris Burke (10rg) - 2B
Could Have Had: David Wright, Brandon League, Dan Haren
The man who was supposed to replace Craig Biggio ultimately rode the pine as Biggio pursued 3,000 hits. Burke, at least, was Major League caliber.
Astros Pick: Derick Grigsby (29th) - RHP
Could Have Had: Joey Votto, Jon Lester, Brian McCann
It's almost getting painful seeing just how many of Houston's first round picks never even made the club. At the very least, the Astros were picking late which means they were winning.
Astros Pick: No first round pick. Houston's was given to the Giants after the Stros signed Jeff Kent in free agency.
Notable Players: Rickie Weeks, Nick Markakis, Chad Billingsley
Kent played just fine for the Astros. No problem here. Jason Hirsh was drafted in the 2nd round.
Astros Pick: No first round pick. Houston gave its pick to the Yankees when they signed Andy Pettitte.
Notable Players: Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Gio Gonzalez
Lots of pitching on the board. The Astros signed a guy for three years. They made it to the World Series, but was it worth it? The Yankees used the pick to draft Phil Hughes, and they also later got Pettitte back. You call it. Verlander's making $20 million A YEAR through 2014 and Weaver could be the best pitcher in the major leagues this year.
Astros Pick: Brian Bogusevic (24th) - LHP, Eli Iorg (38th) - OF
Could Have Had: Matt Garza, Colby Rasmus, Clay Buchholz
Bogusevic was actually drafted as a pitcher, but he;s now playing outfield in Triple A. The top of this draft was loaded with talent: Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury — the Astros never had a shot at them.
Astros Pick: Maxwell Sapp (23rd) - C
Could Have Had: Daniel Bard, Chris Perez, Trevor Cahill
Houston recently released Sapp. Cahill was a Cy Young finalist.
Astros Pick: None. Pick went to the Rangers for the Carlos Lee signing.
Notable Players: Jason Heyward, Rick Porcello, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Stanton
This really hurts. Carlos Lee is just sitting there in left field doing nothing. For the record, David Price was taken first overall and Mike Moustakas second.
Astros Pick: Jason Castro (10th) - C, Jordan Lyles (38th) - RHP
At about this point, we have to stop making comparisons as the sample size is just too small. It should be noted that Brett Wallace was drafted 13th in this draft by the Cardinals and is now the replacement at a Hall of Fame position (he's an Astros first baseman following Jeff Bagwell and Berkman).
From 1991-2008, the Astros have had 21 first round draft picks (they didn't have a pick in three of the last 20 years). Out of this, they've only produced three All-Stars in Wagner, Berkman and Lidge. (Phil Nevin was an All-Star, but he played for the Padres at the time.)
There is a lot of pressure on Ed Wade — or whoever the Crane group tabs to replace him — to really turn this trend around.