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Astros GM Luhnow: ‘The Plan Is Working’

By DEEPI SIDHU, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) The Astros General Manager is keeping his chin up despite his club ranking last in the league with a 10-29 record after losing five straight games.  In Monday night’s 2-7 loss to Detroit, number one starting pitcher Bud Norris gave up seven runs in five innings before abruptly leaving at the start of the sixth with lower back spasms.  Astros President and CEO George Postolos resigned Monday after just 18 months on the job.  On Tuesday the Astros organization announced that it would not host the annual Astros Wives’ Gala at Minute Maid Park which has raised $4 million for the Houston Area Women’s Center.  The event, cancelled after 23 years as per owner Jim Crane’s instructions created a PR debacle. The Astros seem to be sinking on and off the field.

Nevertheless, General Manager Jeff Luhnow is the picture of eternal optimism and keeps his focus on the future.  His success with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he drafted 24 future major league players in his first three drafts (2005-2007), has not yet translated to the Astros organization.  Luhnow joined SportsRadio 610′s MaD Radio on Monday to talk about he Astros’ struggles and his vision for the long-term.

“I think the reality is we got off to a worse start than we would have liked and I think everybody knows that but this is a long season and we’re going to go through stretches where we play well and hopefully, we are going to start on this road trip.  There’s been good news here and there throughout the season,” Luhnow said.

The GM attributed the majority of the bad news to the club’s dismal pitching.  The Astros pitching lineup ranks last in all of major league baseball in the following categories: ERA (5.84), Runs Allowed (242), OpBA (.300), OBP (.373) and SLG (.523).

“I do like the way our defense is shaping up and I think we are seeing some promising offensive output out of guys like Jason Castro, obviously Jose Altuve, and I think there is some promise in some of the younger people we are seeing like (Brandon) Barnes and (Robbie) Grossman. If our pitching can just stabilize enough to give these guys a chance to get into a groove, I think we can really improve our win/loss record going forward.”

Losing 107 games his first year in Houston and on pace to lose 119 his second, Luhnow agrees that times are difficult but is excited about the farm system he is cultivating and the talent that will be soon available to the Astros’ roster.

“We had a no-hitter in Lancaster which is probably the hardest ballpark in the country to pitch well in, much less have a no-hitter.  We had Domingo Santana with three home-runs in one game earlier this week. (George) Springer is leading Double A in home runs.  (Jarred) Cosart, (Mike) Foltynewicz hit a 100 (mph), (with) Cosart having a good outing yesterday.  There’s just so much good news coming out of the farm, and these guys are Triple A, Double A, High A.  They’re not that far away and the guys that are here are getting a chance to play and prove themselves and trying to carve out a place for their spot for the future.”

With the MLB draft less than one month away, the Astros gear up for their first-overall pick for the second year in a row.  The GM’s pitching woes are not enough for him to commit to drafting a young, starting pitcher to re-energize the crowd and garner fan interest.

“To be honest with you, between Foltynewicz and Cosart and the guys that we have coming Lance McCullers, that guy may already be in our system,” said Luhnow.  “We hope he is and I would say also that you talk about guys like Harper and Trout and some of the excitement that the position players can generate as well.  We’re going to go best player available and that’s the right thing to do.”

Luhnow’s patience may pay off soon.  The GM, invested in the farm system he developed with his draft picks, foresees results as early as next year.

“The plan is working.  We’re definitely feeling like we’re ahead of where we intended to be right now and that’s good news. It’s good news.  It means it could be next year that things really start to turn the corner.”

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