Astros have a new owner, and you have a lot of questions. Let’s chat.


The one thing that stood out to me as the press conference began Thursday afternoon was how much more relaxed Jim Crane appeared than the first time we were introduced to him, back in May.

When Drayton McLane first announced he had sold the team to Crane six months ago, the pending new owner was still waiting approval from Major League Baseball. That handcuffed him in terms of how much he could say regarding the Astros and his vision for the future, because until the Commissioner and baseball’s 29 other owners signed off on it, the team wasn’t yet his. That forced him to keep his comments short.

This time, Crane walked into the room looking relaxed and, understandably, relieved. Although the process to get to this point had many difficult twists and it took a toll on everyone involved, in the end, Crane, persistent from the start, crossed the proverbial finish line.

We all know what transpired between the day the initial sale announcement was made in May and Thursday afternoon. Crane went through a long and somewhat grueling vetting process, one that ended with MLB giving Crane two choices: buy the team and move to the American League, or refuse a move to the AL and not own the team.

That was one of the first things Crane addressed at the press conference. “They made it clear to us that anyone who owned the team would be moving to the AL,” Crane said.

The Astros’ move to the AL West in 2013 was one of several topics Crane addressed during both his formal statements to the media and his more candid interviews he conducted with reporters during the hour-long press conference.

Among the notables:

On the negative fan reaction on the move to the AL:

“The fans are number one, let’s get that straight. Without the fans, none of us are here. We want to reach out to the fans. We’ll do some things for the fans immediately. We understand the tradition in baseball. We understand the NL and people are tied to that. That wasn’t an option for this town.

“With that being said, we’re going to make the best of what we have here and we’re going to put a winner on the field. I think the fans will come back. We want them to stay, we don’t want anybody to leave. We need their support. We’ll put a winning team on the field and hopefully the fans will embrace us.”

Pressed on the phrase “do some things for the fans,” Crane was asked if lowering prices was part of that plan.

“I think that’s probably one of the first things we’ll take a look at,” he said.

As Crane stated in May, his goal is to build a winning team through scouting and player development.

“We’re focused on developing talent and increasing our minor league depth,” he said. Crane pointed to teams such as the Rangers who built from the ground up and developed most of their own star players.

On the payroll:

“We’ll get the payroll lined up with the revenue that’s coming in and continue to build the farm system. I doubt you’ll see us as a big player in free agency this year.”

Asked if they might consider a logo and/or uniform change, Crane acknowledged that “Everything is on the plate.” He also noted that logo changes usually take a
year to complete so realistically, anything along those lines would probably be in conjunction with the 2013 move to the AL. And what about a name change?

“No,” Crane said. “‘Astros’ is here to stay.”

__________________

Questions I received from the Twitterverse:

@kevinwilson1011: Do you see MLB putting in the DH in the NL?

I can’t envision that happening. While it’s been established that there is absolutely no way the Players Association would ever go for the elimination of the DH, I think it would be just as hard to convince NL owners to adopt the DH into their league, mainly because designated hitters cost a lot more than bench players. If I ruled the world, I’d abolish the DH and increase rosters from 25 to 26. But there would inevitably be many who would be against that, for financial reasons (what else?). The NL owners would balk at adding the extra salary, and the Players Association wouldn’t want to take away the DH, who makes around $7 million a year, and replace him with a fifth or sixth outfielder, whom you can sign for $600,000 or so.

@travisctb: Ugh, not digging this move to the AL at all. By evening out the leagues, will it stop Interleague play?

No, actually, two 15-team leagues will require Interleague Play to take place every single day. I’ve read that each team could play up to 30 Interleague games a year with this new format, up from around 15.

@WyattBEarp: Starting in 2013 can the Astros at least play the Cardinals in Interleague Play?

I do know that there were discussions during the negotiation process to throw the Astros a bone and perhaps give them a Cardinals and/or Cubs Interleague series at home in 2013. I do not know if those requests will be granted. It would be nice if that did happen, and I don’t think it’s asking a lot for MLB to make it happen, given the number of Interleague games each team is going to have to play anyway.

@dais98: Did all the realignment talks start this past year? Wondering if Crane deal had happened in ’08, would moving have been required?

Good question. From what I have been able to gather, a handful of teams have wanted realignment for a while, but I’m not sure how far back it goes. One team really pushing for it came from the six-team NL Central (not the Astros). The teams that were opposed, not surprisingly, were in the four-team AL West.

As to what would have happened in ’08 if Crane had bought the team then, that’s anyone’s guess. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this issue could have been a sticking point back then as well. There have never been any willing volunteers to switch leagues in the last decade, so baseball had to wait until a team was sold in order to make this happen. And the Astros ended up getting caught in the middle.

@20Becks09: Will Mr. Crane look to hire his own GM and manager?

TBA. I’m sure those meetings will start tomorrow as Crane and George Postolos, who will take over as CEO, dive into the decision-making process. We’ll have to wait and see who stays and who goes, if anyone.

@20Becks09: Do we also expect the Astros be future players in free agency going forward for after 2013?

It is my belief that the payroll will increase as the Astros improve, and that when it’s time to really be a contender, there will be money to spend in free agency. The first thing they have to do is produce their own Major League talent. Free agents do not turn a 100-loss team into a 95-win team. They’re added as the cherry on top to a team that already is sound from top to bottom: good pitching, solid defense and a strong lineup (in that order). To throw gobs of money at one player right now would do nothing but handcuff the team for years, especially toward the end of that long-term contract when the player isn’t productive anymore. That one player may be able to bring a team, what, 10 more wins? The Astros need a lot more than that.

I realize that what I call the Big Four — scouting, player development, International scouting and Latin America — aren’t the most exciting elements for fans. I get that. Really, I do. But it’s the lifeline of a team, and for the last two or so years, that’s where the Astros’ focus (and money) has gone. I’m cool with that. If done correctly, the Astros can get good, and, more importantly, stay good.

@castrovince: Will you now be known as ALyson Footer? … OK, that was lame. Sorry.

Ba-da-bum. I already saw some fans calling our second baseman NLtuve in protest to the move. That’s a little more clever, to be frank.

Astros are on Facebook

Follow Alyson Footer on Twitter

Check out our witticsms on AstrosOneLiners

Questions? Email afooter@astros.com

 

34 Comments

At least there is the prospect of a good rivalry between the Rangers and Astros I will look forward to trips to Arlington.

Please. The Rangers were an after for 30+ seasons. Two good seasons and now they are all that? The Arlington Rangers are getting old and about to lose players to FA. They are about to come falling down to mediocrity and/or obscurity once again.

no there wont, the only people interested in talking about any kind of rivalry are the media.
the fans of both teams just see it as another game

What a terrible decision. Terrible for the Astros, since now they have to play that sissy DH nonsense, and terrible for Major League Baseball, since EVERY DAY there will be inter-league play.

BOOOOOOOOO!

This is a statement not a question. There is no way I am going to support an American League team. The Astros to me are dead. I have been following them since the sixties when Lowell Paz was the announcer on the radio. But this is it. It is like a member of my family has died. I don’t want anything to do with them. I am making a big garage sale and getting rid of all my memorabilia cheap.

It’s not important, but will the Astros get new uniforms in a few season? I am really bored of the pinstripes. It would be cool to see the blue and gold uniforms with our current colors!

One team really pushing for it came from the six-team NL Central (not the Astros).

You don’t even have to say it, Milwaukee.

Thank you! Why not send the brewers back to the AL! And its soooo stupid having 15 teams in each league, seriously??? They’re slowly pushing the envelope on getting their way once again… I.e. getting the DH to the NL. Poor jim crane, I seriously feel sorry for him because I’m sure every true fan is the same as me. Initial reaction is NO! Don’t move to the AL, but poor guy got pushed around by the owners. Yes he stood his ground pretty well but he didn’t stand a chance. In closing, once an astros fan ALWAYS an astros fan! Bring on the AL!

It WAS CINCINNATI

Never thought I’d say this…but I’m done with the Astros…this was the last straw…guess the opinion of the fans don’t matter anymore…so I’ll not spend anymore of my hard earned income supporting the Astros or MLB.

Hey Footer why dont you ask ol Jimbo why he caved so quickly since Selig was under a looming deadline of Dec. to get the new CBA done. If the sale of the Astros wasnt done before the deadline Selig wouldnt have been able to get his 15/15 league ruse in the new CBA. Jimbo held the cards but he folded like a cheap suit and took his 30 pieces of silver and ran selling out the City of Houston and tossing aside the Astros’ history and NL legacy. Oh, guess what I just heard. Selig and the MLBPA are going to hold a presser on Monday to announce the completion the new CBA! What a coincidence that it gets AFTER the sale of the Astros.

If Jim walked away, the team would have gone back on the market and sold to a new potential owner who would have been given the same edict: move the the team, or don’t own the team. At that time, the leagues would have been realigned. There was no deadline to realign the leagues. Had it not happened before the new CBA was blessed, it would have been added later. There was no way around this. The Astros were moving regardless.

Why was it necessary for the Astros to move? The Cubs were sold in 2009, the Dodgers are up for auction. There are rumors that the Braves will be sold after the new CBA. No one has suggested that these teams change leagues. Why couldn’t the next NL team to be sold switch leagues? MLB and Crane say they understand tradition, they just care more about other teams traditions than the Astros.

if yall change the uniforms. what are the posible changes, and what if any will be made to the stadium, and will there be any changes to the roster?

no it was Cincinnati

I’m so angry with Drayton McLane and that dried up old man, Bud Selig…….I could
strangle BOTH OF THEM. NOT ONE MORE PENNY WILL I SPEND ON A TICKET TO SEE THE ASTROS. P E R I O D . Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I agree, Becky. Selig should have moved the Brewers back to the AL. Politics rule the day. Goodbye Crane. Get your support from Buddy Boy Selig. He is laughing at you. Houston was a National League Town for decades even before the ‘stros were born, having been a farm club for St Louis………..Mr Crane, I hope you enjoy th DH . Most strategy is gone from the(DH) game…..

Bud Selig is the Devil.

This whole affair has been disgraceful, deceitful, coercive and sleazy. All of which are Bud Selig trademarks.

I’ve been a fan for the entire 49+ years of the existence of the Houston Astros of the Nation League and this is a violation of four generations of my family.

Only a fool would support an organization that has such obvious contempt for its own fans. It was a nice half-century, but there won’t be any more generations of Astros fans in my family.

I’d heard the Diamondbacks were willing to go to the AL. Why didn’t MLB do that? I don’t like AL-style baseball as much as NL. Or why couldn’t the Brewers go back to the AL? This hostage situation is really a slap in the face to the most important part of the game (yeah, right, they believe that), the fans! Interleague play every day defeats the “special-ness” of it. Might as well just have one big league & let the top x teams fight out for world champion status at the end of the season. (Hey, I’m just kidding about that last comment; PLEASE don’t take me seriously, MLB.)

The Astros should make a clean break and change their name. This is most definitely not “our” Astros. They belong to MLB or Bud Selig, maybe Jim Crane. They’re not ours.
“We understand the tradition in baseball. We understand the NL and people are tied to that. That wasn’t an option for this town.”
They understand, they just don’t care. Take the team, leave the name.

As I’ve said to people before, it’s sad to see the Houston Astros do nothing but accept Bud Selig’s un-moral, and completely unethical strong-arming of the Astros into being ‘demoted’ into baseball’s junior circuit for no logical reason.

“But the Astros have a rivalry with the rangers! xDDD” No, they don’t. The Astros have a bigger (and better) rivalry with the Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Giants, etc etc in teams from the NL Central and their former Divison, the NL West. We play for the silver boot, but most fans don’t see it as a rivalry, because we love Nolan Ryan and the Rangers already. Bud Selig claims to value the tradition and history of baseball, but he doesn’t, and by extension, you the team as well.

So why did you easily allow him to tell 50 years (more if you count the Houston Buffaloes) to go straight to hell? You can claim this is for the greater good all you want, but it’s not true. Look at all your season ticket holders saying they won’t renew, look all your negative feedback (from when the rumors started to pop up) and go back even further to when Ed Wade got a contract extension. Look at the money you’ll lose in home ticket sales at the late starts to AL West home games, look at the lose in TV ratings at both AL West Home and Away games. Your fans do not want this, at all.

Fans were calling for his head for the damage he did to the club, and you reward him, and he further stabs the fans in the back. God willing, if the story about you(The Houston Astros) violating your lease with MMP are true, the Harris County Sports Authority will lock the stadium come ’13 and tell you “No. This stadium’s lease states clearly the home team must be a team from “National League Central” not a team from the American League West. Good bye.”

I’ve followed you since the day I was born, and attended games, every season for going on *three* decades, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on tickets, jerseys, hats, t-shirts, etc, all supporting my team. You’ve made it clear you don’t give a single damn about any of the fans.

The state of the economy has made it harder to justify spending thousands of dollars for a season of baseball. The miserable 2011 season didn’t deter me, but the move to the American League makes it impossible for me to stay a season ticket holder. So sad. I have had season tickets since 1986, but my connection to the Astros is evaporating. Or perhaps I should rephrase that as HAS EVAPORATED. MLB and the Astros owners have succeeded in making that a reality. A different brand of baseball after 50 years? How does that make any sense? A rivalry with the Rangers? The ‘Stros play six games with the Rangers every year and I have not seen any type of rivalry develop. No Astros fan that I know cares one iota for the stupid Silver Boot. What a waste.

Alyson, We didn’t mean to “shoot the piano player”, we are ANGRY, and that is not likely to change. Please folks, don’t even THINK Alyson had *ANYTHING* to do with this debacle…….she did NOT. She’s a beat writer, who does a VERY GOOD job of keeping us informed, and entertained with the daily goings on with the club.
Next season (2012) is the LAST year of us being in the NL, let’s focus on that, and let the rest take care of it’s self. We had NO say, Alyson had NO say, and Jim Crane had NO say. Be angry ( I *AM*) with Bud Selig. He is the ONLY person who could have stopped this. Thanks, Becky:)

I forgot to add…….I miss Michael Bourn!!!!!!!!! Becky:)

I am still so angry about all this I am not sure I can be coherant. I am not angry with the Astros, for the most part. It was Selig’s call and everyone (all other 29 owners included) caved in to his demands. I have been a season ticket holder since the 90s – I have not renewed. I bought a place in Kissimmee so I could be there for all of Spring training – it may go on the market when I get there next month. What makes me even angrier is that it they were going to MAKE us do it, why not do it 5 months ago and move us in 2012 – now we will have an entire year to have our noses rubbed in it and for the fans to be reminded continually what is coming in 2013. Sad day in Houston to be sure.

Now that McLayne has sold off the talent, how any frigging years are we going to have to wait to see that. Your going to be an old man before it happens.

When the Astros are winning again, all you “I’ll never buy a ticket again” folks will be first in line. How many of you swore off baseball after the strike? after the initial news of steroids? Talk is cheap. An appealing product will put butts in the seats….end of story.

the Astros lost over 100 games in 2011. I think every one of their minor league teams finished last or next to last in their leagues. The Astros traded popular players for mediocre minor league talent or talent that had never played about the A level.
So “when the Astros are winning again” may not be soon enough to save this team. I predict ticket sales for the next two years will plummet. The Royals, Pirates, and Rays parks will look like Yankee Stadium compared to Minute Maid Park. There will probably be more vendors than fans!

I think getting out of a division where 3 out of the other 5 teams have become powerhouses of young talent, the Cubs, who you never know, could be great with a few moves, and the Pirates, who are young, powerful, and full of live arms is a great thing for a struggling team as ours in a rebuilding DECADE…apparently… We will be moving to a MUCH weaker division, and adding a 9 hole hitter who can hit, not to mention the facts that : (1)The Rangers will lose several key players soon (Young, Hamilton, Beltre, Wilson, Cruz, and others) to free agency, (2) The Angels keep losing big names to free agency, and others pass on signing there, making them an increasingly older, less talented, and more expensive team, (3) The Mariners, aside Pineda and King Felix, are the worst team in the AL (right next to the Athletics), who can’t land a free agent to save their lives, and (4) Playing teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, etc.. will increase national attention, sell jerseys and hats, and increase attendance and viewership in our new Comcast Sports format for 2013 and beyond. Being the worst team in 2011 gives us the NO 1 OVERALL PICK in the 2012 Draft. Less money on old fat free agents, means more money to ACTUALLY SIGN OUR FIRST ROUND PICKS!!!!! Any team has an outside chance to hit all cylinders and compete, so if we do that in 2012 or 2013, it’s bonus, because by 2013 0r 2014, we can have our very own Prince Fielders, Ian Kinslers, Michael Morses, Justin Uptons, Mike Stantons, and Evan Longorias. All these names became STARS through being drafted, signed, and properly coached. Even Albert Poo-Jols got drafted once. I think things are looking UP!!! Stop whining, jerks, it is what it is, and when we win, you’ll claim you never left. Suck it up and be a real fan… FOR THE TEAM…FOR THE TEAM….FOR THE TEAM!!!!

Fan experience aside…follow me on this people…are you ready?

Baseball is a business…with a B…as in Billions…9 of them.

Now…baseball is the best sporting endeavor on the planet. It is great to be a fan.

HOWEVER, don’t even begin to think that the game of baseball doesn’t look out for it’s own interest first and foremost…AT EVERY LEVEL!! With every person…owner and player. Ask any player…that is trying to make the show. The MLB (players and owners included) learned a valuable lesson during the big strike. You take care of baseball business and the business of baseball will take care of you. 31 teams benefit…1 team has fans with their panties in a twist. There is no remorse…there never will be and that’s ok.

The Astros run as a NL franchise was sacrificed for the betterment of all (the game folks)…it comes first.

If you are a National League Fan…find another team and don’t let the door hit you on the *** on the way out.
If you are an Astros Fan…welcome to the AL and quit your cryin’…there ain’t no cryin’ in baseball!

I have been a solid Astro fan since 1964, but there is no way in hell that I will remain a fan of the Astros in the American League. I do not like inter-league play because I cannot stand the style of play in the AL with the ‘gimmick’ designator hitter rule. As far as I am concerned the AL may as well play slow-pitch softball. I am done with MLB and the Astros.

Chris Carrigan
Helena, MT

Alyson, I watched the video on astros.com of selig’s press conference about the sale and move to the AL. Not once did he mention the fans or our concerns about switching leagues.
Doesn’t this show that the fans were never taken into consideration when this move was forced on Crane? If so, why should the fans support it?

No matter how we feel about the raping of our team we still love the players and you Alyson. Please understand our frustration and know it’s not you for sure! Your our messenger. Thanks A.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers

%d bloggers like this: