Hopefully, Draton McLane understands this by now. The amount of his spending isn't an issue. It's his priorities. He wants an immediate return, and it simply doesn't work that way.
So he'll throw $100 million at Carlos Lee, but veto the signing of a $900,000 draft pick to save money. Last summer, the Astros signed all but one of their high draft picks. If they made good decisions, they're on their way to replinishing the farm system.
But they have to stack one good class on top of another. This World Series a reminder of why it's important.
Imagine a rotation anchored by Roy Oswalt and Jake Peavy for the next four years. They could be the cornerstone of a championship team, and that's why Ed Wade surely is exploring the possibility. I'm guessing Drayton McLane would approve such a deal in a heartbeat even if it meant bumping the payroll to the $100 million range.
Oswalt is signed for four more years at $18.5 million a year. Peavy is under contract for five more seasons at an average of $15.6 million.
Only three National League teams got fewer innings from their starters than the Astros in 2008. That number would change dramatically with a healthy Peavy.
The Astros are on the list of teams he'd accept a trade to, in part, because he and Oswalt and close friends.
Now about making that trade happen. That's the tough one. The Padres will want young talent, and the Astros have perhaps the worst farm system in baseball.
It comes down to what Padres GM Kevin Towers thinks of the talent at Corpus Christi. The Astros sent eight players to the Arizona Fall League, so the Padres could get a close look at some of the organization's best: OF Brian Bogusevic, 2B Drew Sutton, 1B Mark Ori, 3B Chris Johnson, LHP Chris Blazek and RHPs Bud Norris, Sergio Perez and Brad James.
Minor league player evaluations are subjective, so it's impossible to know what chance Ed Wade has of making the deal happen.
Some of you will argue that the Astros shouldn't gut the farm system for a veteran. I say go for it.* * *
Fans don't buy into two- or three-year plans. Owners don't buy in either. Look at the Marlins and Twins. Both got rid of big-money talent and kept winning. Peavy represents a chance to win, and with revenues approaching $200 million, the Astros have the money to take on another big contract.
So, yeah...you two let me know when you decide which way to go...