I don't think it's fair to continually smash the Houston Astros for not spending money on their major league roster. They may not be spending money on major league talent, but they're building for the future – something you can't really say about other teams in the league like the Mariners, who seem to be continually swimming upstream. The Astros have been instead spending their money on front office positions, helping craft a framework in which a winning culture can thrive.
The latest hire is Colin Wyers from Baseball Prospectus, who will be working as a mathematical modeler in the team's Decision Sciences department. Think about that for a second – a pro baseball team just hired a blogger to work on mathematical models. That Decision Sciences department is directed by Sig Mejdal, a former analyst with the Cardinals and NASA biomathematician. What is the world coming to?
This is nothing new for the Astros. At the end of 2011, they sent feelers out to ESPN's Keith Law (a BP alum) about becoming their scouting director before he opted to stay with ESPN. In January of 2012, they hired Mike Fast of BP to work in their baseball operations department. In August of 2012, they hired Kevin Goldstein of BP as their pro scouting coordinator.
What's going on in Houston is, in a word, wild. General manager Jeff Luhnow is loading up his front office with people that have been derided by old school baseball types in the past. Luhnow's philosophy is reminiscent of Moneyball in that he's exploring another inefficiency in the market – hiring people who aren't traditionally thought of as candidates for front office jobs. So many baseball jobs in the past have gone to former players and long-time personnel, and that's still true in Houston. But the Astros are tapping into the market of online writers and analysts that are changing the way we think about baseball, and in the process, they're changing the way we think of about MLB front offices as well.