Nolan Ryan back with the Houston Astros organization? At first glance, it sounds very tempting and exciting. Many will probably not hesitate to add his historic and storied baseball career.
However, the more I think about, the more I see it as a risky proposition. But does the reward outweigh the risk? I am not sure about that, and compelling arguments can be made both for and against a Nolan Ryan reunion.
- Jeff Luhnow and company already have a plan in place, and they have meticulously followed it over the last few seasons, even at the expense of "national outrage." Perhaps I am an eternal optimist, but the results thus far have been very encouraging, and I would hate for anything to possibly derail the plan, especially since it seems like the big league team is so close to reaping the benefits. I am not saying the addition of Nolan would for certain derail the plan, but it at least is a possibility that must be considered and discussed prior to adding him to the team.
- Will another power struggle happen? At this point, it seems like the front office and the entire organization is on the same page, all the way down to a seemingly unified minor league philosophy. Another Jon Daniels vs. Nolan Ryan simply cannot happen, and can have severe repercussions during this rebuild.
- Will some fans still blame him for the Astros being forced to move to the AL? He was vocal about it and pushed for it to happen. At the same time, he was doing his job for the team that was paying him. He realized the Rangers would benefit to play the re-building Astros for the next few years.
- A reunion with Nolan Ryan brings back a face of the franchise, and if nothing else, would be an excellent PR move.
- The addition of Nolan Ryan would bring additional credibility to our front office. To that extent, free agent pitchers might be inclined to give the Astros more thought after a chat with Nolan Ryan. There is no way to quantify how valuable that actually is, but I personally believe there is something to that.
- In a time where our farm is deep with talented and intriguing pitching prospects, it certainly cannot hurt to learn from a Hall of Famer. Again, it is hard to quantify it, but surely there is at least some value there.
- This could lead to a possible return to Round Rock, which comes with many benefits. Not only is it close and convenient, but ultimately it should lead to more Astros fans.
- Generally speaking, it is always great to add great minds to the front office. After a Hall of Fame baseball career, Ryan continued his success with the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Round Rock Express, and then eventually the Rangers. Take into account his 27-year pitching career, and his post-retirement career, and he has been in and around the game for about 40 years, finding considerable success wherever he goes. A man with his experience and baseball IQ should not be ignored.
At the end of the day, considering the risks and rewards of a Nolan Ryan reunion, I am all aboard The Ryan Express. Initially, I thought "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And although there are legitimate concerns about adding him to the team, I think most of those would be discussed prior to him accepting his role. If he feels like he is not getting enough say in the organization, I am sure he will decide to pass and enjoy the retired life.
Conversely, I believe if Jeff Luhnow and the front office have serious reservations about possible clashes, a position will not be offered to Nolan. I think it would be made abundantly clear that Jeff Luhnow is running the ship and will have the ultimate say on all personnel moves. At the same time, I think Nolan Ryan's input will have weight and importance, but I think it is a marriage that definitely can work.
Luhnow has stated multiple times that the front office is not solely statistically driven, and that their approach is a hybrid of their statistical analysis along with traditional scouting. It will come with challenges, but if you can add Nolan Ryan to your staff, you should make a concerted effort to make it happen. The potential rewards are just so great. That being said, I have full confidence that Jeff Luhnow would make a Nolan Ryan reunion work, and that the Houston Astros would ultimately benefit from it.