Astros, Selig and the issue of tanking

Updated: March 27, 2013, 1:39 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Bud Selig says he has no problem with the Houston Astros' strategy, or their payroll level of $25 million. From Brian Smith's story in the Houston Chronicle:

    "I do trust the organization," Selig said. "Look, every organization goes through certain phases. They have chosen the path with some very qualified people. And the only way you can really build a solid organization, a solid team, is through a very productive farm system. And I think they're doing it the right way. There's no question in my mind."

    Selig referenced longtime St. Louis and Brooklyn front-office leader Branch Rickey as being his "all-time executive baseball hero." According to Selig, Rickey was adamant it took at least three years to even judge the initial stage of a rebuild. Selig also referenced the Atlanta Braves, offering a reminder that a team that made 14 consecutive playoff appearances from 1991-2005 -- a strike wiped out the 1994 postseason -- and won the 1995 World Series spent the latter half of the 1980s as one of the worst teams in pro sports.

    "(The Astros are) getting good draft choices. They've drafted very well and wisely. And I think Houston fans have a lot to look forward to," Selig said. "If their rebuilding program is as good as I think it is and they think it is, they're going to create a lot more great memories."

My opinion: It's a bad idea for anybody within the institution of baseball to endorse "getting good draft choices" as a good thing. The reality is that as seasons play out, some club executives for struggling teams begin to privately hope for higher placement in the draft. But to make roster decisions to foster a worse record and better draft placement is really dangerous, because what it boils down to is this: It's a strategy to lose.