Luhnow Tasked With Rebuilding Astros

Former scouting director has tough job ahead





HOUSTON—To fix the Astros' scouting and player development systems, as he has been asked to do as general manager of the rebuilding Astros, Jeff Luhnow has a lot of work ahead.

As he begins to ponder it and even make his first changes to the minor league system, it can be at least semantically less daunting to view it as a job, singular, rather than jobs, plural.

That stems in part from his time in St. Louis, the only organization he has known in a baseball career that began rather late in life in 2003. Brought into the Cardinals organization after education and entrepreneurship in the business world, he soon found himself in charge of both aspects of the Cardinals pipeline: scouting and player development.

He headed both of them until the two positions were separated after the 2010 season, and Luhnow remained as the vice president of player procurement.

As for the balance between the two, Luhnow said coordination is definitely needed.

"The scouts are always optimistic and the coaches often see a different aspect of the player because they are with them day in and day out," Luhnow said. "It is important, in my opinion, to have one voice across both areas. We will have that here too."

He later clarified that, saying that it was not necessarily one literal voice.

He is still evaluating personnel, including scouting director Bobby Heck and farm director Fred Nelson, a veteran of nearly 30 years in the Astros organization. At least at the beginning, Luhnow will be more hands-on with scouting and player development than the average GM.

"Since I will be intimately involved in these areas immediately, I can insure consistency and direction for the time being," he said.

Both scouting and player development have had their woes in the last 10 years, though it's impossible to put a proportion on each when assigning the blame for the Astros' situation.

SPACE SHOTS

• Luhnow's first move with the minor league system was making Double-A Corpus Christi manager Tom Lawless the Astros' minor league infield coordinator in 2012.

• The Astros will retain minor league pitching coordinator Jon Matlack, hired after the 2011 season while Ed Wade was still GM, as well as other minor league coordinators, after making wholesale changes the last two years.