It was a random Sunday tweet from a Houston Astros follower, destined to be lost among the volumes of Twitter noise – except I couldn’t forget it.
“All Astros farm teams at .500 or better. Hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Player development is the main priority in all organizations, but playing winning baseball is important, too.
Of course, it would be ridiculous to declare victory this early for new Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow. It will require more than two months to repair years of damage. It takes time to fill a player pipeline that was short of impact talent.
Still, winning records indicate progress.
Back here, with the system that Luhnow played a major hand in building, the four full-season Cardinals minor league clubs are not doing as well. Injuries in St. Louis and below exposed gaps that had to be filled with in-season minor league free agent signees. Other players had been pushed ahead before ready with some subsequently backtracked.
Actually, Houston’s Double-A Corpus Christi club slipped below .500 when they lost to Springfield on Sunday, but the big picture is quite telling. In aggregate, the Cardinals are roughly 20 games under, while the Astros are about 20 games over. Though three clubs are close, none of St. Louis four full-season farm clubs currently have a winning record. Two affiliates are facing double-digit deficits in their respective divisional standings.
Full-season minor league records as of June 3, 2012, St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros
|Am North||4 of 4||Memphis||20||37||0.351||13.5||Am South||1 of 4||Okla. City||34||23||0.596||–|
|North||3 of 4||Springfield||27||28||0.491||4||South||3 of 4||Corpus Christi||27||28||0.491||6|
|South||T2 of 6||Palm Beach||26||30||0.464||18||South||T2 of 5||Lancaster||30||27||0.526||1|
|Western||4 of 7||Quad Cities||28||29||0.491||7||Southern||4 of 7||Lexington||31||25||0.554||8.5|
60 percent of the full-season schedule remains, as does the Draft and the entire short-season campaign, so there is plenty of time to see improvement in the respective records.
That is a good thing. I think.