Why the Astros' farm system is in the dumper

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There was a story about the state of the Astros’ farm system in Saturday’s Houston Chronicle, painting a bleak yet accurate picture of what happens when you spend a decade signing free agents, skimping on international signings, drafting poorly and failing to come appreciate when it’s time to add talent and when it’s time to rebuild. Today Buster Olney adds another factor:

Here’s the bottom line: The teams that have adhered closely to the
slotting bonus guidelines set forth by the Commissioner’s Office have
seen the quality of their prospects dwindle, and the teams that have
painted outside the slotting system lines — the Tigers, the Red Sox —
have thrived. The Astros have been one of the teams that followed the
slotting guidelines.

This is not terribly shocking, of course. When you have a system in which some clubs agree to arbitrarily limit the things they’ll do to make their team better and others do not, those in the former camp are bound to suffer.  What’s so surprising to me is that so many teams value loyalty to Bud Selig and ownership politics more than they do, you know, winning.