Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is smart man. In his own words, he “didn’t make $100 million by making a lot of dumb mistakes”. Crane put $100 million of his own money into the Astros back in 2011 when he led an ownership group that purchased the club for $615 million. The Astros were a 56-win team in 2011, featuring a roster comprised of veterans on their way out and a lacklustre farm system.

Flash forward to 2013: the Astros are locked in to a rebuilding plan that is ostensibly writing off the present in favour of the future. With a payroll that’s set to check in at around $25 million, the lowest in Major League Baseball, Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow are sticking to their plan regardless of what fans and/or pundits believe is the best direction for the club.

As the Astros prepare to open up their first season as an American League team, Crane is putting to bed any hopes for a sudden influx of cash to invest in recognizable baseball names:

Crane, via The Wall Street Journal:

“We want to build a product that’s consistent, and the only way we can do that is the way we’re doing it,” Astros owner Jim Crane said. “If people want to complain about it, they have a right to complain about it. But we’re going to stick with the plan.”

Furthermore, Crane (somewhat jokingly?) is inviting disgruntled fans to pony up their own money if they’re not happy with the roster:

“It doesn’t bother me that people want us to spend more money,” Crane said. “But it’s not their money. This is a private company, even though it’s got a public flair to it. If they want to write a check for 10 million bucks, they can give me a call.”

It’s not all chest-thumping, though. Crane and co. realize that their plan is not without potential pitfalls: “We’re not going to get everything right, but we’re going to get a lot right”.

With that, the Houston Astros appear primed to take their licks in the tough American League West in the short-term. While their rebuild has been intriguing to this point, its success can only be measured by results. We’ll see you in 2-3 years, Astros.

Comments (8)

  1. I understand the frustration, especially after so many losing seasons, but given the direction the club is taking I can’t really see why anyone would want them to “pony up and spend” in 2013. Double their payroll and maybe they’ll have a shot at being 2nd worst instead of dead last in the standings, but who cares? Spending millions of dollars in pursuit of the flimsiest kind of moral victory isn’t a fair expectation of any ownership group.

  2. I actually really kind of like how they are going about this.

  3. Different sport, but I think the CALGARY FLAMES could benefit from the management execution here.

    I think it’s cool to see a team committed to sustainability + consistency moving forward. We’ll see if it works…

  4. This is a by-product of the fans being unlucky with the owners they got. When the team was up for sale, it could have been bought by a guy/group with deep pockets like Mark Cuban or Terry Pegula. Instead, Astros fans got a group that doesn’t have enough money to toss around and make mistakes with. They’re a low-middle-income team so the fans will just have to deal with their budget. Look at the Oakland A’s, their previous owners were excessively wealthy and treated the team as a way to give back to the community…and so they had a team of stars…Canseco, Henderson, Welch, etc….now they have Money Ball. Hopefully the next time Houston’s ball team goes up for sale there is a newly minted billionaire with ties to the area and is bored with his multinational and looking for a new toy.

    • Even then I’m not sure if they’d really be at an advantage, especially long-term. Spending like the Dodgers right now would basically have left the Astros with a $100M+ team that includes a few stars surrounded by a ton of shitty replacement level guys and a crappy farm system. If the team/system hadn’t been so poorly run for so long before the new group took over then they might have been able to benefit from a benevolent owner but at this point they’re pretty much doing what needs to be done to fix the mistakes of the past and set themselves up at least a chance at sustained success.

  5. I like what they are doing, however I worry they have run out of trade chips on the ML roster. They better hope some of these prospects being huge because that is the only way out of this pit of sadness.

  6. The Astros and their moves have made them into my AL ‘B-Team’ so that I can claim I liked them before 2013 when they’re contending for division/league titles in 15 and beyond. It seems to me that the more of a real baseball geek that one is, the more that one likes the Astros and their plans. Their praises should be sung far more than they are being; and not just for the awesome fact that they’ve returned El Presidente to the MLB.

  7. They stole KG from the world of prospect lists and podcasts. They must be doing something right.

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