Gazzolo Column: Business has not been very good of late for Astros

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Lost in all the hype of a new football season, the Houston Astros have continued to go about their business in relative privacy.

Unfortunately for them, their business has not been very good of late.

Stealing some words from the great Harry Doyle in the movie “Major League,” in case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the

attendance you haven’t, the Astros lost their 100th game of the year — again.

That makes three seasons in a row Houston fans, the few who remain, have had to suffer through such a long summer.

The good news is, if there really is any, that the Astros are once again on the clock when it comes to the baseball draft

next June.

There is also the talk about how much money this franchise made. Forbes magazine reported the team will make $99 million in

operating income (before deductions) this year — the most of any baseball franchise in history — thanks in large part to a

low payroll. Others dispute this fact.

Either way, the fans don’t get any benefit from this.

Truth is, the Astros are stuck on a treadmill to nowhere.

Three consecutive 100-loss seasons, which match Kansas City’s futility from 2004-2006, means there has been no progress made.

It means that the mistakes of the past are still being made in the present.

And while there is talent being stockpiled in the minor leagues by all accounts, it is not coming up anytime soon. So a fourth

consecutive 100-loss season is more than a possibility.

That’s what happens in baseball when you elect not to compete.

It is clear that the Astros have decided to rebuild through the draft and their minor league system. That is a smart move,

one that might pay off in the future.

But fans deserve better.

The team still expects people to come out and pay good money to see their product when they are not willing to spend their

own dollars to make that product better, or at least competitive.

Only one Astro — Erik Bedard — makes more than $1 million dollars.

That puts the rest of the team on skid row in the world of Major League Baseball.

Young star Jose Altuve did get a contract extension and will make decent money starting next year for the club, but that isn’t

going to help much when you consider he is already on the team.

So it’s time for the Astros, who have a big-league television contract and play in a major city, to start acting like a large

market and pay their way into competition.

To do that they must spend. Not go crazy like the Yankees and Red Sox, but spend a few smart dollars on some good veterans

to help fill the gap until their recent draft picks are ready for the show.

They owe that much to the fans who have stuck with them, and the ones who want to support them but can’t stand the losing.

The Royals finally did this and, with a few simple moves, it has paid off with a winning record this year. Even the Pirates

have done the same, picking up the right pieces when called for.

Houston doesn’t have to go free-agent crazy, but it does have to show the fans it cares more than just about the bottom line.

You can talk about the future all you want, but the folks who are willing to still come to the park this year deserve to see

a team that can at least put on a good show.

Tuesday night, while suffering loss No. 100, the Astros fell 10-0 to Cincinnati. Hardly a heartbreaker.

Houston’s front office says times are going to get better, that the future is bright and winning is right around the corner.

Of course, we heard the same thing from a different ownership group three years ago.

Since then things have only gotten worse.

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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com