I'm sorry, TCB. I've been terribly neglectful of you over the past week. High school football season has just been eating my lunch lately. I'm hoping a slowdown in my schedule this week will mean I get to catch back up and get on course, so bear with me.
Since I didn't get to post on some of the stories that broke lately, I thought I'd roll some quick thoughts on it all into one post. Feel free to discuss...
1) Jim Crane fires back at MLB - I mentioned this on the podcast (which will be released later in the week), but I find it terribly fascinating that Jim Crane has decided to fire back through the media at MLB. This approval process has gotten ugly in the past few months, as allegations have surfaced about all sorts of transgressions from the future owner of the Astros.
He's right to be upset by this, because part of these stories are getting out because of leaks on MLB's side. Maybe not the commissioner's office directly, but people on his side of the court. If Selig really didn't want this getting out, he'd put a clamp on it.
So, Crane started negotiating through the media and responded to the AL realignment talk by saying the sale has a deadline of November 30. I've been beating the drum for this, but just to reiterate, that deadline is approaching faster and faster because baseball will not make any major announcements during the postseason. That wipes the entire month of October off the map and means the earliest owners could meet about this would be early November.
The November deadline also means Crane won't be put off until the Winter Meetings for a move to be made. Could be significant, but probably won't be. As much as I wonder if this process will go through, I think greed will carry the day. Crane paying $680 million for the Astros will increase everyone's franchise values, so it's in every owners interest to bring him on board.
I'll get to a couple more things after the jump...
2) Astros fire two scouts - Color me shocked that Houston let Rusty Pendergast go. He was a holdover from the last scouting administration, so I'm not completely surprised, but he has been productive lately, finding Ruben Alaniz most recently.
Pendergast had a good run on finding quality players this decade and did it in a very big state. I'm sure Houston has other Texas scouts lined up and ready to go, but can't you see Nolan Ryan swooping in very quickly to pick up Rusty?
As for the other scout, Lincoln Martin, was this a case of the Astros and Bobby Heck realizing they reached on Jay Austin, Telvin Nash and DDJ? Martin was most directly responsible for those moves and now he's looking for work. Look at where those guys were drafted and then let's talk about how Martin had to have Heck's ear to get those guys taken there. At the same time, a regional cross checker and a national cross checker had to see them too and still sign off on the picks.
The fact that all three of those high draft picks have struggled to a degree needed to be recognized and I think the reshuffling you're seeing in the scouting system means Houston knows it's had problems with parts of the draft. Talk up Jio Mier all you want and the rest of Houston's drafts in the past few years, but how many of those players have been unquestioned successes? Austin Wates and Jordan Lyles? I guess you can put Dallas Keuchel there and obviously J.D. Martinez and J.B. Shuck. Still, Houston has some evaluation problems that need to get sorted out and I think this is a first step in that direction.
3) Roy and Hunter return to town - This is going to be weird. Two of the most recent Astros icons are back and playing for a different team. I know there won't be that many people on hand to see them, but it won't be the same seeing them suit up for the Phillies.
I still don't feel upset at Oswalt for asking out and I don't dislike Pence because he's playing on a different team. I can't even muster up dislike for Berkman, even though he's playing for the Cardinals. I'm glad they're playing for a good team that's heading to the playoffs, but I also don't think I'm going to find myself rooting for the Phillies in the postseason just because of them.
It's a complicated world the Astros are in now. They finally committed to the rebuilding effort, so I'm not going to be angry that they had to trade away some good players. It's still going to be slightly weird.