Luhnow: Astros will be better than people think

Luhnow: Astros will be better than people think
February 5, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Jeff Luhnow goes 1-on-1 day after Lowrie trade

Jeff Luhnow hears the criticism from local and national pundits. He hears the projections of the third-straight 100-loss season. He hears the projections of the worst team in baseball.

He hears them … he just disagrees.

"I’m optimistic," he said. "I think we’re going to have a much better year than people think."

Luhnow's really looking forward to the competition that Spring Training will bring.  

“We’ve got 60 guys coming to camp who all have the potential to be big league regular players or better,” the general manager said on Tuesday. “We’ve just got to mix and match and hope for a good roll of the dice on some of these guys. We’re going to field a fun team and I think they’re going to be a lot more competitive than people think.”

The Astros lost 107 games in 2012. They lost 106 in 2011. The Astros’ payroll was already projected to be under $30 million before the trade that sent Jed Lowrie to Oakland on Monday.

The highest paid player currently on the Astros’ roster is pitcher Bud Norris, who will make $3 million in 2013. The average major league salary to begin 2012 was $3.44 million. The Astros’ estimated payroll will be around $25 million, which would be the lowest in the majors since the Marlins had a $21 million payroll in 2008.

“I think people are focusing on what the major league payroll is,” Luhnow said. “We’re making a huge investment in the pipeline and we’re going to spend close to $20 million acquiring prospects in the amateur draft and the international process. We’re investing in our teachers at the minor league level. We’re investing in our capabilities to develop talent. And we’re staying consistent with our strategy, which is to develop the best young talent in baseball and be as consistently competitive as soon as possible.”

First-year manager Bo Porter walks into a situation where he takes over a team that has lost 213 games in two seasons. He’s already said a few times that his message to his team will be to take things one game at a time. Of course that’s easier said than done, but Porter doesn’t want his young team looking at the season as an un-climbable mountain. He’d rather have them view it as a series of 162 speed bumps.

“You cannot control from Game 1 to Game 162,” Porter said. “All you can control is the game you are playing that night. I’ve stressed this from Day 1 to our players: don’t get caught up in the end result, be more concerned about the process, which is what we do each and every day to prepare ourself and in position to win each and every ballgame.”

From last season, the Astros have experienced a 50 percent turnover. Only 20 players remain from last season’s original 40.

But Luhnow is still looking forward to 2013.

“Spring Training is a time to be optimistic,” Luhnow said with a smile. “If you’re not optimistic during spring, you’re probably not a very optimistic person.”

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