Astros' season highlights incentive to tank

Erik Bedard is making a little more than $1 million and is Houston's highest-paid player. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Let’s make one thing very clear at the start of this conversation about what is so wrong about the Houston Astros: It’s all but impossible to find someone who believes they will struggle in the years ahead.

"They’re going to be good," said a rival official, "because they’re getting access to the best talent and [GM Jeff] Luhnow is a really smart guy."

In the minds of many rival evaluators -- many -- the Astros are playing baseball’s current system to perfection.

So the problem with what the Astros have done really isn’t about the Astros. The problem is the system, which can reward calculated failure, and this should be a serious concern for Major League Baseball. Everybody has seen what Houston has done, and as one GM said before the season started, with a hint of jealousy, "They’re doing it exactly right."

By losing. A lot. Because that’s the best way to exploit the current system.