Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ohfergoodnesssakes

Earlier today, you may have asked yourself, "Why in the hell would the Astros sign Diory Hernandez?"

Zach Levine has your answer:

Gottfried also said that third baseman Jimmy Paredes suffered what the club believes is a minor shoulder injury with his winter ball club Gigantes del Cibao. He last played in Wednesday’s game and could miss a few days.

Astros GM search so far reminds me a lot of the lead-up to prom

Jon Heyman just tweeted that, in addition to Thad Levine turning down the opportunity to interview for the Astros' GM job, the White Sox' Rick Hahn and MLB's Kim Ng also turned the Astros down.

Provided that the Astros don't hire Andrew Friedman, whomever is the next GM can take comfort that, at best, they were Plan D.

Astros sign 3B Diory Hernandez

Baseball America says that the Astros, in addition to re-signing Carlos Corporan, have signed 3B Diory Hernandez.

Hernandez will be 28 in April and comes from the Braves' organization, where he was signed as an amateur free agent in 2002. He appeared in 22 games for the Braves in 2011, hitting .212/.212/.333, while playing 3B, SS, and 1B.

In nine minor-league seasons, he has a .272/.323/.378 line, with 463K:169BB. In four Triple-A seasons, he hit .275/.315/.375. The peak of those four seasons was 2009, when he hit .319/.399/.422 in 54 games. In 79 Triple-A games in 2011, he hit .201/.229/.308.

This is probably the best news possible for Jimmy Paredes, who looks likely to open the season with the Big Club. If the Astros play him at shortstop, he'll compete with Brian Bixler and Angel Sanchez.

Bill Geivett interviewing today

Rockies Assistant GM Bill Geivett flew into Houston this morning to interview for the GM position.

Meanwhile, Tim Purpura ended up getting the Rangers' farm director spot.

And in other GM news, Jon Heyman sez that the Astros will do whatever it takes to sign him but his friends say they think it's a long shot.

Today, in obvious news

What with the Winter Meetings kicking off, everyone in baseball has descended on Dallas to wheel and deal. And Jon Heyman is in town to "report" on the "rumors." Like this one, which is obvious to everyone:

#astros shopping wandy, myers & carlos lee

Dallas is a Caps-Free zone, everybody.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

J.J. Picollo drawing interest

Courtesy of MLBTR, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton is tweeting that Royals Assistant GM J.J. Picollo is drawing interest from the Astros.

Friedman declines to address status

Read into this whatever you like, but the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin tweeted that:

Friedman declines to address Astros GM situation at pre-winter meetings media session.

Astros receive permission to hang out with Bill Geivett

Can we get a pronunciation here? The Astros have received permission to interview Rockies exec Bill Geivett, who is senior vice president of scouting and player devlopement/assistant general manager.

The Astros are kind of messing up this Tal Smith thing...

The Astros are getting hammered on how they're handling the Tal Smith dismissal. And it's sort of Drayton's fault.

How is it possible that Smith will receive only two weeks’ severance pay from the club, according to major-league sources? Because the Astros’ previous owner, Drayton McLane, did not arrange a more enticing golden parachute for Smith with the new owner, Jim Crane. Smith’s contract as president of baseball operations expired on Oct. 31, sources said, but he continued working for the club as an at-will employee...

...Smith...received the equivalent of one month’s salary when McLane awarded bonuses to Astros’ employees upon the closing of the sale, sources said. That bonus, plus the two weeks’ severance, is all he will receive after serving the Astros in all five decades of their existence, including the past 18 years under McLane.


I'm not saying we should start a Kickstarter project to get Tal some money to get his fishing license, but if Crane felt it necessary to give him a bigger severance, I'd be okay with it.

GM Update!

Big news from the GM search last night, after I went to bed (of course). So let's catch you up, if you haven't already done so:

Thad Levine, Assistant GM for the Rangers, has declined the Astros' offer to interview for the GM position.

Drew Silva says:
With the Winter Meetings set to begin early next week, it might be time to begin bottom-feeding.

Yes, because that's exactly what the Astros need more of.

Also, Ken Rosenthal says that Rockies Assistant GM, Bill Geivett, is a serious candidate for the vacant GM position. Rosenthal:
Geivett, 48, has a wide range of experience. His previous jobs included assistant GM for the Dodgers, farm director for the Rockies and Expos, special assistant to the GM with the Rays and area scout and instructor with the Yankees.

We warned you about this...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So the Astros might get a Rangers exec, and the Rangers might get Purpura

The Astros have asked the Rangers for permission to interview Assistant GM Thad Levine (and, as Sullivan reports, possibly A.J. Preller) for the vacant GM position in Houston.

And in a related note, the Rangers have interviewed Tim Purpura for their own vacant farm team director position.

In the best example of "Telling Half the Story" we've seen in a long time, we turn to T.R. Sullivan:
Purpura was the Astros' assistant general manager from 1997-2004 under Gerry Hunsicker and also served for seven seasons in the dual role of farm director. The Astros were named the Major League Organization of the Year in 2001 by four different entities. From 1997-2005, the Astros went to the playoffs in six of nine years, including 2005 in Purpura's first year as general manager.

Quirk: Cubs are sort of like the Astros!

Jamie Quirk is off to Chicago, where he will be new manager Dale Sveum's bench coach.

Quirk:
"It was too good to turn down. I wanted to get back to the bench and get more involved. They've got new ownership and a new general manager and they're kind of like the Astros are, lot of changes going on and it's kind of exciting to see what's going to happen."

This larger story has another quote from Quirk, mainly about how he wanted to have responsibilities between the hours of 7pm and 10pm:
"Pretty much, once the game started I was out of it."

What does this mean for the Astros? Well, they need a bench coach, and to hear Jamie Quirk tell it, it's more of a planning job than anything else. Yet, as in most things, the longer the GM search takes, the longer it takes Mills' situation to get resolved, the longer it takes to find a new bullpen coach.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More prospect analysis!

Fangraphs fantasy arm, Rotographs, recently took a look at Houston's farm system and young major leaguers. While the post is obviously coming from a fantasy baseball perspective, there is still some good information provided.

They're predicting Clemens, Oberholtzer, Cosart, and possibly Keuchel to debut in mid to late 2012, which I would generally agree with, depending on injuries and if and when Wandy and/or Myers are moved.

Given the rebuild effort and the number of players that debuted last season, there are several guys to cover, and this piece hits most of them.

I would say a lot of Houston's rebuild effort is riding on the performance of several minor leaguers in 2012. A few important break-outs or busts this year will have a huge impact on how quickly the Astros return to respectability.

The Case For/Against Ed Wade

It's now been 24-36 hours since we found out about the dismissal of Ed Wade. How about a point/counterpoint?

Juvenile Court Clerk

Once Jim Crane was officially approved as the new Astros owner, he hinted very strongly that changes would be made, and quickly at that. Most correctly guessed that the dismissal of Ed Wade would be one of those changes. After all, Houston had just wrapped up the worst season in franchise history while essentially fielding a team of nothing but rookies and role players. On top of that the farm system, while improving, was still considered one of the poorer in baseball. But I argue that the cause of our dereliction wasn't Wade, but McLane and his bipolar approach towards team building.

When Wade joined the organization in 2007 the writing was already on the wall concerning the decline of the franchise, but McLane had not yet found his reading glasses. Wade was tasked with rebuilding the farm system while keeping the parent club competitive. Oh, and payroll, despite being burdened with the Carlos Lee contract, was being cut at the same time. And Eddie tried. His first big move was trading our increasingly expensive demoralized closer Brad Lidge for a promising young outfielder named Michael Bourn in the first of his multiple deals with the Phillies. Then it is widely assumed that McLane directs Wade to trade half of our AAA team for Miguel Tejeda, who promptly ages faster than Robin Williams in Jack.

The next of Wade's major deals came when Houston surprisingly found themselves in a pennant race in the second half of the 2008 season. In moves that were almost universally laughed at at the time, Wade turned two non-prospects into Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, a solid SP and setup man for the stretch run. After just missing the post season, McLane decides it's time to tighten the purse strings a little more. Unable to resign Wolf, Wade is forced to find 40% of the starting rotation for less than $3M. Then, faced with the ever injured Kaz Matsui's latest injury, Wade turns AAAA IF Drew Sutton into fan favorite Jeff Keppinger.

And this pattern continued for the next couple years. Though he struggled filling holes through free agency on a bargain basement budget, he continued to find value through waiver claims and under the radar trades. Matt Lindstrom, Jose Valverde, Wesley Wright, Alberto Arias, Wilton Lopez, Jason Bourgeois, Nelson Figueroa, Matt Downs, Enerio Del Rosario, and Lucas Harrell were picked off other teams scrap piles and have provided decent, not great, but decent value to the Astros. He turned Kevin Cash, a non-factor, into Angel Sanchez, a serviceable infielder. Felipe Paulino became Clint Barmes, and now a supplemental draft pick. Pedro Feliz became David Carpenter.

Finally given the green light to go all in on a rebuild, Wade traded Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn over the past two season. While early indications are mixed on these four deals Houston has received some interesting pieces in return. Names like Jonathan Singleton, Jimmy Paredes, Jonathan Villar, Mark Melancon, Domingo Santana, Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart, and Paul Clemens should give Astros fans something to look forward to in a couple seasons when they join recent draft picks like George Springer and Mike Foltynewicz and young major leaguers J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve.

In all, Wade was given a nigh-impossible task that became increasingly difficult as his time with Houston went on. Ownership interference and uncertainty will make even the best GM look silly at times, but I think when the Astros are atop the AL West, Ed Wade's fingerprints will be evident on the team.


The Constable

Where do you even start with building a case against Ed Wade? I completely respect the Juvenile Court Clerk's opinion that Drayton bears a large burden of the responsibility, but the firing of Ed Wade simply had to happen, even if it means that Jim Crane will be paying him for the next two seasons. Attendance is dwindling, fans are irate about the move to the American League, and, oh yeah, the team just had its worst season in franchise history, finishing 50 games under .500. The change just simply had to be made. Jim Crane just finished up a six-month process that saw his credibility challenged. Ask your average Astros fan what they know about Jim Crane, and you'll likely hear a response that has to do with allegations of racism.

Jim Crane has to get the fans' collective minds off of that, and off of the AL move. He has to make this franchise his own, and you don't start off on a $610m investment by leaving the previous owner's GM in place.

Ed made some solid moves. Picking Brett Myers off the scrap heap. Getting what he did for Hunter Pence. But Ed Wade made some indefensible moves. Signing Myers and Wandy to those long-term, expensive extensions. Kaz Matsui, Bill Hall, Miguel Tejada (yeah, he was an All-Star, but for a team that did not need to acquire a shortstop who aged two years in one Jeremy Schaap interview). Already writers and bloggers are trying to figure out which GM they'll be able to make fun of now. Wade never had a chance, his reputation was sealed, as a bumbling, middle reliever-lover, who was around simply to please the Phillies.

Wade started the rebuilding project, but when most feel like Michael Bourn was the better player of the Bourn/Pence tandem, and when Wade looked like he crapped the bed on the negotiations, it didn't exactly inspire confidence in his ability.

Could Ed Wade get the job done? Eventually, maybe. The Phillies certainly reaped the benefits of Ed Wade's beginning. But Wade was a polarizing figure who needed to go so that Crane could start to reinvent the franchise into one that could more adequately meet the extreme challenges the Astros are now facing. Drayton deserves to share the blame, but he's gone, too. So it is with Wade.

Who might replace Mills?

Brad Mills' hometown paper, the Visalia Times-Delta, talked to Brad Mills yesterday to get his reaction to the changing direction of the franchise:

"It's an exciting time. We talked [Sunday night] about a lot of the rumors that were coming out. And I'll be heading to Houston on Wednesday to meet with [ownership] to discuss the future...

...It's just exciting to see them with a plan."


Should that plan not include Mills, which is - justifiably - going to be the decision of the new GM. Who might replace him? Well, Ken Rosenthal suggests that it's a strong possibility, and throws out Yankees bench coach (and Astros' Triple-A manager from 1991-2001) Tony Pena, and Bo Porter whom, strangely enough, AC suggested as a possibility for the Astros back in 2009. Porter lives in Houston, and has interviewed for the Marlins and Nationals managerial vacancies.

Don't get too excited about Andrew Friedman

The way it sounds from reading the internets, the Rays granting the Astros permission to speak with Andrew Friedman about a front office position is something of a professional courtesy. Friedman also offered the same courtesy to the Cubs and the Astros' new rival, the hated Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (you have to start somewhere, right?), and talks went virtually nowhere.

Jon Heyman, for what it's worth, says the Astros' plan all along was to let Friedman turn them down like a cheerleader, and then conduct their search.

So, should you be excited? Absolutely. This shows that the New Regime is invested in finding the best people. It's just probably best to leave it at that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Astros receive permission to interview Andrew Friedman

Holy Hannah! The Astros have received permission to interview Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman.

Justice:
Astros owner Jim Crane and CEO George Postolos are hoping the lure of returning to fix the team he grew up rooting for would be just such an extraordinary situation.

Gerry Hunsicker apparently will not be interviewed for the position.

The question, for me, is what compensation would be necessary for the Astros to send the Rays' way if the Astros make the move. Hey, after paying Ed Wade for the next two years, maybe Jim Crane is in a compensating mood.

Brad Mills has yet to hear from new regime

Zachary Levine tweets:

For whatever it is or isn't worth, Brad Mills said he's had no discussions with Astros new ownership about his future.

This form of communication didn't work out so well for Tal Smith.

Chris Johnson's dad got a job

With a captip to Hardball Talk, Chris Johnson's dad - Ron - who was fired by the Red Sox last month, will be the manager of the Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles.

Thoughts from the Crawfish Boxes

Here are some good thoughts from the Crawfish Boxes on the events of the last 12 hours.

Your money quote:
I know Crane got the $70 million for negotiating in the months between the July vote and the November confirmation. He probably was able to then use some of that savings to justify eating two years of Wade's contract. But, it still stinks. Selig ramrodded this whole AL move down the Houston franchise's throat and it cost him more than just money. It cost him time.

Timeline sort of, maybe, in place

Jon Heyman says that the GM will be in place before they address Mills' status.

This makes sense, might as well let your GM have a say in who the manager is or isn't.

Baseball Time in Arlington's reaction

Now that we have to start thinking about AL West reactions to the Astros news, if you're not already, you should be acquainted with Baseball Time in Arlington, because they're an excellent Rangers-oriented (obviously) blog. They have some thoughts on what today's news means for the Rangers, with emphasis on the possibility of Levine/Preller, and even Mike Maddux as next manager (should Mills get fired).

Schafer playing for Team Drug Intervention

Apparently it's Overwhelming Amounts of News Day, as Zach Levine is reporting that Jordan Schafer:

...has opted for Florida’s pretrial intervention program in a case which saw him charged with two drug-related crimes, his lawyer said this morning.

Should he manage to complete the program, stay off the herb, or Cheesecake Factories, there will be no additional penalty to his drug-related charges.

The "Real Ed Wade" (from 2005)

Here's the text of a PhillyBurbs story from 2005 on the real Ed Wade, and what a douche he was.

An excerpt:
Late this summer, Wade repeatedly chewed out closer Billy Wagner - sometimes in person, sometimes over the phone - for comments he read in the newspaper and during contract negotiations. Wagner took this verbal abuse for a while, then got fed up and began hanging up on Wade.

Years earlier, Wade called a team meeting to scream at players. One pitcher said everyone buried their heads in their arms so Wade couldn't see them laughing at him.

Two springs ago, Wade was furious at Phillies beat writers, called a morning meeting and cursed for about 20 minutes. I still have the tape from that one. You should hear it. It's something else, right out of the Lee Elia school of bleeps. He got personal. Ask Philadelphia Daily News baseball writer Marcus Hayes, who remained calm as his character was assassinated and he was being called an officious [bleep]."

On a Sunday in July 2004, the day Eric Milton flirted with a no-hitter, Wade lost it in front of the Phillies dugout when Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Sam Carchidi asked him if "there were any trade developments." Carchidi, who does not cover the team regularly, was told with anger: "If you were here everyday, you would know." Wade ended the shouting match by saying, "Kiss my [bleeping bleep], Sam."


It's incendiary, and as Randy Miller writes:
This isn't about kicking a man when he's down. It's about shedding some truth about the Wade era.

Derek Dietrich didn't think he could play baseball right away with the Astros organization, apparently

Another side note, while we comb the intertubes and Twinker for more Ed Wade/Tal Smith details. Here's an interview with 2007 3rd Round pick - and subsequently unsigned - Derek Dietrich.

So what happened with that Astros decision? Dietrich, now a prospect with Tampa Bay, as if that's fair:
“I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I could play baseball year round and in nice weather. But more than anything, I wanted a place where I could go and play right away, because the only way you can get better in this game is to play. (Georgia Tech Head) Coach (Danny) Hall assured me that he was going to give me an opportunity to play right away, and the facilities are unbelievable at Georgia Tech. It’s one of the best places to play in the country with great crowds, great fans.”

Captip to Top Prospect Alert for the link.

Top 2000 (!) Prospects

The blog MILB Prospects put together an ambitious ranking of the top 2000 prospects in all of baseball based solely on stats, then assigned each player a grade representing that prospects likelihood to improve using that player's age and level.

Again, this is solely data driven, no consideration given for being "toolsy", having a "good makeup", or being a "baseball guy".

There's a ton of stuff, obviously, but the highlights would include Villar at #43, Springer at #90, and Oberholtzer at #94. I'm not sure how Springer got ranked after all of 8 games, but whatever.

Wladimir Sutil out

In a secondary, or even tertiary, tranzaction note, we find from Farmstros that Wladimir Sutil has signed a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks.

This clears out the Triple-A competition for Jonathan Villar to move up to the SS position for the RedHawks since Anderson Hernandez, who played the most games at SS for OKC in 2011 (once you clear out Manzella), has a shot at making the Opening Day roster for the Astros.

The hell is an Evergreen Provision?

Zach Levine just tweeted:

Ed Wade said that because of an evergreen provision, his deal was guaranteed through 2013, not 2012.

UPDATE: Zach Levine has the story:
Former Astros general manager Ed Wade had a provision in his contract that guaranteed his 2013 salary in addition to his 2012 figure, he said Monday morning a day after his firing was announced by the Astros. In conjunction with the evergreen provision that triggered the renewal of his deal for what would have been a sixth season in 2013, his dismissal leaves the Astros on the hook for two years of his salary in addition to that of their new general manager.

So...what the hell is an evergreen provision? The "evergreen" term indicates, according to the HOA Law Blog, that the contract could - in theory - last forever.
When the board receives a proposed contract with an evergreen provision that automatically renews the contract (they're called evergreen provisions because the contract could virtually last forever), the board has options.
First, the board could just say no. Most vendors will relent and agree to a more reasonable termination provision. If the board is putting a contract up for bid, tell the vendors upfront that you are not going to agree to an evergreen termination provision nor an extended term of contract, and that the board wants the ability to terminate the contract for cause.


Investopedia says (though obviously not in the context of baseball):
...Rather than go through the process of approving allotments every year, a company can adopt what is known as an evergreen option provision, which provides for an automatic allotment of equity compensation every year.

These types of provisions are highly discouraged:
Rather than agreeing to an evergreen provision, suggest that both parties mutually agree upon additional one-year increments in writing, at the end of each term. If the other party insists on an evergreen term, negotiate a reasonably conscribed no cause termination clause. This will significantly reduce the risk associated with inadvertently rolling into an additional year, as you can simply exercise the “out” clause and terminate the agreement.

Hooray for Drayton! The Astros are giving Ed Wade a two-year paid vacation!

Wade knew on Wednesday

Happy Thanksgiving, huh? Ed Wade was told last Wednesday that he would not be returning in 2012.

Wade:
“There was really no discussion beyond that. I did have an opportunity to talk about some of our staff and the esteem I hold them and [manager Brad Mills]. It was a very brief conversation. We’ll move forward from here.”

Justice: Brad Mills is safe

In Richard Justice's retrospective on Wade's career, we get this little nugget (that somewhat bucks conventional wisdom):

Jim Crane and George Postolos had to decide, not whether Ed Wade had done a bad job, but whether they could hire someone better. They decided they could and that’s why it appears Wade will be fired Monday. (Manager Brad Mills is safe.)

That's quite a parenthetical note, but Justice goes on...

Wade and Tal Smith may be the most visible departures, but if they’re the only changes, Crane and Postolos will be making a huge mistake.

For whom is that intended? Mills? Heck? Gottfried? Given the speed with which Wade and Smith were dismissed, I doubt that's the end of the axe-wielding.

Olney: Wade isn't entirely to blame

Buster Olney's (Insider-only) column this morning addresses how Houston gets back to relevance.

He links back to Houston media quite a bit, but does warn this:
There are a lot of industry-wide questions about the direction of the organization, about what kind of owner Crane will be, and until that becomes clearer, some folks who have alternatives may choose to wait rather than join the Astros.

And on Wade's legacy:
(For many years) Houston was among the small handful of teams that honored the slot recommendations from the Commissioner's office, and in recent years, owner Drayton McLane drastically cut the Astros' budget. Wade wasn't given a lot to work with and has had some dead money to work through, and the sudden shift to austerity is the root cause for the disintegration of the franchise. (Note, Richard Justice says Wade's legacy is complicated).

Let's be clear about something, and remember this carefully, because we Astros fans are a little too close to the situation to be completely objective: these positions (GM and, potentially, manager) are not exactly the most attractive positions in baseball. Why? I don't think it needs to be explained but let's take a look at the challenges the incoming front office will be facing:

1. Depressed, angry fan base.
2. Transition between leagues.
3. Weak major-league roster, comparatively.
4. The fruits of Ed Wade's labor in trades/draft, won't be realized for at least two more years...if at all.

And that's just off the top of my head. Buster Olney talked to a "really smart executive" (yes, that's exactly how Olney described them) who said that the Astros were 4-7 years away from respectability. That's a really long time in my view, but it should tell you how far the franchise has fallen from being the toast of the National League. And even when they were the best team in the NL, the Astros weren't doing anything to keep them in that position. It's like they tried to out-Marlin the Marlins, and failed so, so miserably.

This is Drayton's legacy. Does the fall of the franchise - and the time it will take to rebuild it - outweigh the "glory years?" In my estimation, yes. Would you rather be in a solid band for 15 years, or a one-hit wonder? As of 2012, the Astros' "glory years" were a one-hit wonder.

Through this whole regime change, remember this sad fact: If the Astros are, as the super smart wonder executive says, 4-7 years away, what GM would want to step into that situation? Only two GMs in franchise history - Spec Richardson ('67-'75) and Gerry Hunsicker ('95-'04) - were given 7+ years at the helm.

This is an era in which GMs aren't given a whole lot of time to make their mark. Brian Sabean (1996), Billy Beane (1997), and Brian Cashman (1998) are the only GMs to take their places prior to 2000. What aspiring GM would want to take on a (potential) seven year project?

Just so you know, it's unlikely Mills will end up in Boston

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham doesn't see Brad Mills in Boston, should the axe fall on Mills today (or this week, but honestly, if it's going to happen, it's probably going to be today).

Although Mills was widely respected during his five years as Terry Francona's bench coach, hiring somebody so closely aligned to the former manager wouldn't seem to make much sense. The Red Sox didn't even give DeMarlo Hale a courtesy interview.

You also have to wonder whether Mills would be interested in replacing his best friend after what was an ugly ending to his days in Boston.

Ed Wade, Tal Smith out

So it happened. Late last (Sunday) night, before the heart-to-heart meetings were scheduled to take place, Jim Crane and CEO George Postolos dismissed Ed Wade and Tal Smith.

In a statement released by the team last night, Postolos wrote:
“With the change in ownership, we would like a fresh start in baseball operations. We have told Ed and Tal that we are making a change. We recognize their dedication to the Houston Astros. We thank each of them for their significant contributions and many years of service to the Astros, and wish them our very best as they pursue new opportunities.”

Wade was under contract through 2012, so he'll get a year's worth of paid vacation. Tal Smith will head off to a farm in Connecticut so he can run freely through a field.

Who are they looking for?
“We are searching for a candidate who has the knowledge, skills and experience to build a winner and a strong commitment to player development in order to sustain success. Our goal is to consistently compete for a championship, and we know the first step towards that goal is to develop one of the top farm systems in baseball. We will hire the best candidate available to achieve our goal.”

Tal Smith isn't happy about it. He told Mark Berman:
"I wrote Jim Crane on June 8th, a four or five page letter asking for a meeting. He responded by e-mail that very day and he said 'I am currently on the road traveling until next week. I'll give you a call next week to set up a time for us to get together. Thanks for your letter.' I have yet to hear from him. After 54 years in the game and 35 years of service to the Astros, I'm disappointed that I never got the chance to really sit down and talk to Jim."

Now, I can certainly understand that. But Crane had some pretty big issues to deal with. Like dealing with constant allegations of racism, war profiteering, and Bud Selig. Could Crane meet with Tal Smith and plan the future when it was up in the air if he would actually own the team?

We'll be addressing that, and a number of other topics related to this news, as the day moves on.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This is the kind of story that makes a blogger want to clear his schedule

Smilin' Ken Rosenthal has a story up with some rumors regarding the future of the Astros taking a dramatic turn...AS EARLY AS TOMORROW.

Jim Crane, erroneously listed as "Jim Crain" by Rosenthal/Morosi (seriously? There's only 29 other owners - get the guy's name right), is expected - by sources - to fire Ed Wade, with Tal Smith to retire.

Crain and new team president George Postolos plan one-on-one meetings with all of the team’s top executives starting Monday, sources say.

More to come, of course.

UPDATE: Fox Sports fixed the spelling of Crane's name. Well done, Twitter.

Red Sox have asked about Wandy

Hey, here's a report from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo:

The Astros are getting more and more inquiries about his availability. The Red Sox are one of the teams that have asked.

Wouldn't it be interesting to face Wandy and the Red Sox in 2013? Meanwhile, Cafardo has another note on our old pal Brad Mills:

Mills, GM Ed Wade, and many scouts and organizational people in Houston are awaiting their fate now that Jim Crane has taken over as owner. It was thought that there would be no changes organizationally until next season, but most staffers are on pins and needles.

I think we can all safely say that "pins and needles" is a fine place to be right about now...