The verdict is in. The sentence is in. And it ain’t good.
The questions: Could it be worse? And what does is all mean to the team and the franchise?
Major League Baseball has announced the findings of its report on the Houston Astros cheating charges and handed out penalties to the Astros organization.
The infractions the Astros were accused of have been well documented so far. We can expect more to come down the pipe, because as I write this, there are reports of some players having worn electronic buzzers to cue them in to pitches. It goes on.

What MLB Did

Even though more news is popping up on this story, let’s look at what MLB has done so far.
As a result of the report, MLB has:

  • Suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow from baseball for two years each. This resulted in their removal from the Astros altogether.
  • Fined the team a cool $5 million.
  • Stripped the Astros of their first and second-round draft picks for two seasons.

What they Didn’t Do

So far, Baseball has not:

  • Disciplined any players, but again this is a developing story. It is hard to pin down who did what and who knew what. Plus, when you get down to penalizing players, it becomes a Players Union issue and gets more complicated.
    MLB said that virtually all of the 2017 Astros knew what was going on. That includes guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.
    The offshoot of the player involvement has already had its effect. Managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the Mets, both members of the 2017 Astros, are gone from their organizations.
  • Taken away the 2017 World Series Championship. That would be hard to do, since you really can’t determine how much effect the cheating had on the actual outcome of the series.
  • Taken away TV time. So the Astros still have that revenue stream, though you have to think contracts won’t be as nice after this smear.

Astros Future

So how does this all affect the team?
Best I can determine, the act of taking Luhnow out of picture is a biggie. He

Jeff Luhnow

might be the only guy who could rebuild from this. After all, the loss of two years worth of prime draft picks will slow the talent flow to a drip. Luhnow was the guy who raised the franchise from the ashes in the first place.
They’ll get another GM, alright. But one as good as Luhnow will be hard to find.
There is also the morale of the team and its players. Expect the boos to rain down at opposing parks, and maybe even at Minute Maid Park, and that is not a welcome feeling for a player.
Folks, the Houston Astros just aren’t as valuable as they once were. With the talent on hand, they might be defiant contenders for a while. But I can see five years to a decade of teams of 80 wins or less.
From the fans’ standpoint, here’s what you do: demand a lot of bat nights and bargains at the gift shop. Don’t let this team rebuild on the backs of high ticket prices. Shop cheap tickets online, at the box office or from your neighbors.