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I saw this tweet on social media a few days ago and all I could think was “man, a decade will go before you know”:
It’s been ten years since Jim Crane bought the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane, and if you recall, the $ 680 million retail price quoted above actually went to $ 630 million when Crane agreed to do that Team in much turmoil from the National League to the American League moved by the Diehards in the Astro fan base. So, as the owner of the team, Crane paddled straight out of the gate.
For the next two seasons, the Astros launched a product that was largely ridiculed, if not ignored, by the city, not least because most of the city couldn’t see it because of a coach fight between Crane-owned Comcast Sports Net and various distributors. If we had asked the question “Give the Jim Crane era a note” in 2013, it might have gone like this:
Needless to say, things got significantly better, but it still wasn’t all peaches and cream. So let’s relive the good, bad, and good of the Crane Era of Astros Baseball:
World Series win and four direct trips to the ALCS
The obvious good thing, and most of every note for Crane, is the continued success on the field, dating back to Astros’ first post-season appearance on his watch in 2015, and having made four consecutive ALCS appearances, including The Only World of the franchise championship in 2017.
Salary expenses and resources
You don’t leave a title window open for so long without investing a lot of resources. Since arriving in 2011, Crane has provided front office and coaching staff with the tools they need to stay ahead of the curve with analytics and video studies. On a purely salary level, the Astros consistently had one of the highest payrolls in baseball, and Crane wasn’t afraid of green lighting deadline deals for big jugs in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
George Postolos is hired as team president
At the start of Crane’s tenure, losing wasn’t the only thing miserable. If you’ve spoken to Astro staff from the early Crane years, it was pretty miserable behind the scenes too, and that had a lot to do with then-President George Postolos. Realizing this, Crane hired Reid Ryan, a descendant of the Houston sports king and a much nicer person.
AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow sacked
MLB imposed its sentence for stealing signs in January 2020 and suspended Hinch and Luhnow for one year. Crane took it to the next level and fired both of them permanently. We’ll see how Dusty Baker and James Click fare in the end as replacements, and there are plenty of rumors that the firing of both men was part of a wink-wink agreement between Crane and MLB, but no doubt Hinch, and Luhnow in particular, were two of the am best in the game at their respective jobs.
Brandon Taubmen’s existence and the greasy of a journalist
While Luhnow was very good at his job, Luhnow’s right-hand man in 2019, Taubman, was an illness in his tenure (and in this era of Astros baseball) that reportedly rose to become a group of female reporters in the clubhouse after the Astros who won ALCS and seeks to showcase Roberto Osuna’s role in the team’s success. These reporters (among many others) had criticized the Astros the year before when they were acting for Osuna, who at the time was serving a 75-game ban on domestic violence. Worse, the team issued a statement the next day smearing one of the reporters and saying they lied about the incident when it was found they did exactly the opposite. Not a good look for Crane’s PR staff.
Mark that steals repentance (or lack thereof)
You’ll never be able to separate Crane’s tenure and the 2017 sign theft scandal. Worse still, Crane will never survive the terrible job he and the organization did trying to show remorse for the mistakes they made.
OVERALL CRANE GRADE: A-
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a freelance writer who provides daily news coverage for the Houston area sports, with regular columns and features. He also hosts an afternoon ride on SportsRadio 610 as well as the post-game show for the Houston Texans.