McLane agrees to sell Astros to Jim Crane

After about six months on the market, McLane got close to his asking price for the Houston Astros and three years after Jim Crane made his first offer, he has his professional baseball team. Even though it seems to have been common knowledge for a few days now, Drayton McLane announced today that he would be selling the Houston Astros to local businessman, Jim Crane. Now even though a deal is in place it is not official, as this deal needs to be approved by Major League Baseball and that is not always a guarantee.

Jim Crane over the past three years has tried to buy the Astros, was in the running to purchase the Cubs in 2009 and the Rangers last season. It finally looks like he will get the team he wanted all along and all indications are that he will be very proactive owner. A former high school teammate of Jim Crane was quoted in a the Houston Chronicle saying “He will be a Jerry Jones owner.” Hopefully he meant the early 1990s Jerry Jones, when the Cowboys were winning championships, and not the 2000 Jerry Jones when Quincy Carter was the starting QB.

Even Drayton McLane has to be happy with the sale today as he got close to his asking price of $800 million dollars. It was reported over the weekend that McLane will walk away with $773 million dollars, which is not bad on an investment of $117 million, 18 years ago.  This total includes $93 million that McLane will receive from the Comcast TV deal that will start broadcasting Astros’ games in 2013.

As much as Drayton has been the target of criticism the past few years, I believe he always tried to put a quality product on the field for the fans. The Astros have one of the best records over the past 18 years, one their first National League Championship, and went to their first World Series. I think McLane backed off signing free agents after the 2006 free agent period debacle that included the $100 million dollar contract to Carlos Lee, along with the $12 million dollars to Woody Williams.

All in all, this a good deal for all parties involved. Jim Crane gets his MLB team, Astros’ fans get an owner who is willing to do everything in his power to win a championship, and Drayton McLane gets a fat check.

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  • Astros Fan

    I can’t see how this is good news for the Astros or Astros fans. Jim Crane’s group reportedly is using $300 million or more in loans (debt) to buy the Astros, which means money is likely to be a major issue moving forward.

    Crane danced around all money-related questions in the press conference today, and his only money-related comments were that he wouldn’t be following the Yankees’ model and that his partners “won’t be happy” if they have to infuse money into the team.

    The last few years with Drayton have been disappointing, but Jim Crane doesn’t look like an upgrade. Astros fans could be in for a Royals- or Pirates-length “rebuilding period” with Crane.

    • Brandon Croce

      Thank you for the comment. I think part of the reason Drayton hasn’t made any moves in free agency was because he was trying to keep payroll low because he knew he was selling the team. I think Crane will be a little more aggressive in free agency from this point forward. Let’s not forget that Lee’s contract comes off the books in two years or less.

      I also don’t think it is bad that we won’t be following the Yankee model. We have a good young nucleus of players and are one or two solid free agents away from contention. I don’t expect a Pirate or Royals type drought going forward.

      • Astros Fan

        Brandon – I agree 100% that Drayton intentionally kept the payroll down in order to make the team more attractive to potential buyers, but I disagree that the Astros are a player or two away from contention. That’s why I’m worried about Crane. If this guy is borrowing $250 or $300 million to buy the team, and he doesn’t want to infuse additional money, then this team is screwed no matter how we slice it. Even if Jordan Lyles comes up and is an All-Star, the Astros still have major holes at catcher, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and in the rotation and bullpen.

        • Brandon Croce

          I am not sure we have major holes at those positions as we have Jason Castro at catcher, Chris Johnson at third base (even though he is in a sophomore slump, I still think he has alot of potential). I think our rotation is pretty strong with Wandy, Bud Norris, JA Happ and Jordan Lyles.

          Our bullpen is still weak but I think we are still a few moves away from contention but not that far off. Time will tell but I think Jim Crane can move forward with this organization with no restrictions.

  • Greg Thurston

    Astro Fan,
    The offense is definitely a weakness. But I would argue that if Lyles performs at an All-Star level the rotation would be above average. Bringing in an established closer could fix the bullpen as Fulchino, Aneury, Lopez, and Melancon all have young and live arms.

    • Brandon Croce

      This may be a shocker but so far this season, the offense has been the strength compared to the pitching. The Astros are 16th in runs scored, 5th in hits, and 6th in average in the majors. It has been a long time the Astros have had a potent offense but they have been hitting pretty well so far this season.

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