This is really a quote of yesterday — April 15, 1991 to be exact — that reader Christopher Modell dug up while trying to find some more info for me on Craig Biggio’s catching prowess. The writers of the piece — William Oscar Johnson and Albert Kim — are concerned that the Astros are embarking on a ruinous fire sale:
“Even before the 1990 season was over, the Astro front office had traded away reliever Larry Andersen and second baseman Bill Doran. After the season, the Astros lost six other players as free agents, including starting pitcher Danny Darwin, who led the league with an ERA of 2.21; closer Dave Smith, who saved 23 games; and outfielder Franklin Stubbs, who had a team-leading 23 homers. Houston then completed its winter clearance by trading away slugging first baseman Glenn Davis.
“We want to know, of course, what the Astros got in return. We are told that Davis was dealt to Baltimore for three young but as-yet-undistinguished major leaguers: outfielder Steve Finley and pitchers Curt Schilling and Pete Harnisch. For Doran, Houston got two minor leaguers and a second-string catcher. For Andersen, Houston got Jeff Bagwell, a promising young infielder. And that’s it.”
That’s all? Man. Tough break.
I think the best part of it is that this little bit is merely the opening of a lengthy story about baseball and finances, with the central question being “can the Astros compete on an $11 million payroll,” when some teams are spending as much as — gasp! — $36 million, which was the league-leading Oakland Athletics’ payroll heading into 1991.
Money quote, from Astros’ GM Bill Wood: “We want the most value for our money; it’s that simple. We do not want
to have a $25 million payroll and still finish fourth. For that kind of
money, we want to finish first.”