The Houston Astros announced the hiring of St. Louis Cardinals Vice President Jeff Luhnow as their new general manager on Wednesday evening. The job was opened when Ed Wade was fired following a change of team ownership from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane.
Luhnow, 45, has been with the Cardinals since late 2003, most recently serving as Vice President of Scouting and Player Development. He began his efforts in the establishment of player evaluation methods at both the amateur and professional levels.
Since 2005, Luhnow directed the Cardinals draft, during which time his drafts were recognized as among the better in the game. Eight major leaguers drafted and developed during his tenure were active for the Cardinals in the 2011 post-season. They include key contributors Jaime Garcia, Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Lance Lynn.
Born in Mexico City and fluent in Spanish, Luhnow was the right person to revitalize the club’s stagnant Latin American program, which he picked up in 2004. Scouting and development successes include Eduardo Sanchez, Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras with many more in the pipeline.
Luhnow added player development responsibilities in 2006. He had a key role in the system’s successes in the minor leagues. Results include the best system-wide record across the minors in 2010 and five minor league team championships, all the way from rookie ball to Triple-A.
Despite it being difficult at times politically within the organization, Luhnow helped build that strong farm system while helping to stock the major league club, which made three World Series appearances and won two World Championships since his arrival.
Though very qualified and well-prepared for his new role, Luhnow has a big job in front of him. Houston went 56-106 last season, the worst record in franchise history, and their system is not in great shape. Further, the club is preparing for a move to the American League West, considered a more competitive division than the National League Central.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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