What Does a New Owner Mean for the Houston Astros?

"After much thought and discussion with my family, we decided that the time was right for this," McLane said. "The past 18 seasons have been a wonderful experience for us. We have been fortunate to be part of something special here."

"When you own a Major League Baseball team, you have an opportunity to impact your city in so many ways. The fans, players, business and political leaders have all embraced us warmly. We're proud of the success we had on the field, but are equally as proud of the success we had off of it. One of our goals was to have a positive impact in the community, and I think we did that. Now, we look forward to passing the torch to start a new era of Astros baseball."  -- Drayton McLane on selling the Astros

In everyone's life there comes a time when you just need to cut your losses and move on to simply start a new chapter in your life. Maybe it's getting away from your crazy ex-girlfriend who enjoys kick boxing for a hobby and loves to practice at home. In life there comes a time when everyone needs to move on and avoid the crazy ex-girlfriend.

native_astro disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form does native_astro think it's funny that someone would be stuck in an abusive relationship with a ninja of an ex-girlfriend. Well, sort of, but only for the Bruce Lee/Tonya Harding type visuals.  Can you picture some dude coming home walking in the front door to a round house kick?

When Drayton McLane and his family finally decided it was time to put the Astros up for sale it signaled the beginning of a new chapter in the history for the Houston Astros. It's never an easy thing ending a chapter in life and starting a new one, but with each new chapter begins a new fresh start. Unless you're the Texas Rangers and the new start comes with debt from the previous owner, but for the Astros and a new owner this is truly a new beginning. We could talk all day about the impact that McLane has had on this organization, but let's look at what a new potential owner could mean for the Astros, the front office, and the future of the organization.

Who's interested?

Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company has been secured to work with prospective buyers of the sale of the Houston Astros. There has been very little talk about any interested parties by Greenberg or McLane. The only two interested parties to come out in public have been New York Attorney Miles Prentice and former Atlanta Braves/Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten.

Now in order for Kasten to buy the Houston Astros he would certainly have to form an ownership group and raise substantial funds in order to buy the Astros. It's for these reasons that I really don't see Kasten as a realistic option. Miles Prentice on the other hand has been knocking on the door of Major League Baseball for years. He has made attempts to buy the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Cincinnati Reds.

Prentice is not just a man that has a lot of money looking to become a public figure in front of a Major League team, but instead looking to fulfill a lifelong dream of being part of a professional baseball team. Prentice currently owns two minor league baseball teams; the Huntsville Stars, the Connecticut Tigers and is a co-owner of the Midland Rockhounds.

These are the only two parties to come out and publicly say that they're interested. There could be several other interested parties that have not yet been identified, but until the sale of the team is agreed upon it's probably unlikely that this person will not be identified until the sale is complete.

How does this affect the Astros Front Office?

Regardless of who buys the Astros, there is going to be uncertainty within the Astros front office. I'm not saying that Tal Smith, Ed Wade, and others have done a bad job, but simply this is what happens when there is an ownership change. Usually in any type of business when there is a change of direction or ownership the inherited employees will be evaluated. Any smart business will simply do this to make sure that the people in place are the right people for organizations business's direction.

In 2009 when the San Diego Padres were sold, the front office was evaluated thoroughly by the new CEO Jeff Moorad. He wasted no time in eliminating over a dozen positions including two vice presidents and GM Kevin Towers. Moorad soon hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to be the new GM of the Padres. 

When the Chicago Cubs were sold to the Rickett's family, Jim Hendry and Co. did not suffer the same fate as the San Diego front office. Hendry was actually extended for four years in October of 2008.

How does this affect Tal Smith and Ed Wade?

Tal Smith probably has the most to lose with any organization because he's been the one constant for the Astros and the direction they've taken over the years. A new owner will examine each one of the business decisions that the Astros have made over the last 10 years.

Smith will have to explain the Astros draft philosophy and why the Astros choose to pick slot picks rather than the best available. Care to explain what happened with Drew Stubbs, Brett Eibner, and Chad Bettis? Next question please?

The Astros have always gone after the high speed, big athlete, and pitching in the draft. This was happening way before Wade and Tim Purpura were in charge. It's clear that this is a staple of Smith's "pitching and defense win championships" type approach.

What about Wade? Has he done enough to save his job? Under the circumstances, Wade has probably done as much as he could to at least get another shot. It's not fair to give Wade a sinking ship with little to no payroll and expect results. Like the Padres, a new owner could choose just to go with a different approach by hiring a younger GM and a team president.

Candidates such as the Dodgers' Logan White, White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Blue Jays special assistant Dana Brown and Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird all could be considered for the Houston position if Wade is let go.

 What does a New Owner mean for the Astros?

With a new owner and a possible new front office in place the Astros would no longer be restricted by payroll constraints and uncertainty. This organization is rebuilding and needs to get owner that will commit to this year in and year out. Drayton realized this, but only committed to rebuilding as a way of making the organization more appealing to a potential buyer. The new owner needs to be sympathetic to the fans and not alienate the fan base who at times begs for this organization to show signs of life. This organization has a great young core of players, but desperately needs an owner with a clear vision and sense of direction.

Who knows what will happen until the Astros sale is finalized. The Astros could go in full blown rebuild mode and have a good old fashion fire sale, then turn around and start firing front office employees left and right such as Tal Smith and Ed Wade. On the other hand, the new owner could continue to build around the young Astros core and go on a spending spree for free agent talent.

Regardless of how the Astros do this year in the standings there should be plenty of excitement off the field with the sale of the team, arrival of prospects, and storylines leading up to the trade deadline.

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