I have never been a big fan of professional sports franchise owners striving to be in the limelight. I believe that we should only see an owner’s work on the field and very rarely in the media. Owners should be like an offensive lineman of sorts, the less you hear their name being called during a game, the better they probably are. An owner should have the right people in place to run his business so that he has very little involvement and can let the business run like a well-oiled machine. I thought Jim Crane would be the perfect owner because, while he was rich, he wasn’t well known. He is definitely going out of his way to change that.
Lately it seems that Jim Crane has made it his mission to get some recognition. From golfing on his Floridian Golf Club with President Obama and Tiger Woods, to flying his own version of Marine One onto the fields at Kissimmee, Jim Crane has been all over the news. While his actions have definitely got his name out there, I am more concerned about his words.
There has been a lot of uproar from Jim Crane’s comments about the payroll and how the Astros have lost money the last five years. Jeff Luhnow and Jim Crane have both made statements in the past about how Houston is a market that can support a high-payroll. They have said they have a plan in place where they will strengthen the minor league system, and once the minor league talent reaches Houston, they can sign free agents to fill in the gaps. They have talked about spending money on the draft, international markets and scouting and development. Why didn’t Crane just keep repeating these statements when asked about his team’s incredibly low payroll? It makes absolutely no sense to say that you were willing to pay $680 million for a team that loses money, unless you are trying to get your name in the media or using it as a distraction.
Many people have doubts about the Astros losing money, including Baseball Prospectus’ Maury Brown in a recent article, which can be seen here for those with a membership. Maybe the Astros have lost money. Or maybe Crane’s statement was just a tactic to appease the fan base’s frustration with the lack of a TV deal; hoping that fans will understand that they cannot watch their team on TV because he is trying to get the most money possible so that he can spend that money on payroll. We won’t know for sure unless Crane releases all of the Astros financial statements.
The one thing I do know is that I would much rather Jim Crane be a “behind the scenes” owner. Let your great front office run the team, and let them comment on the way money is being spent as well. The last thing I want is an owner like George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones that is constantly making headlines. Just put your people in place, give them what they need to succeed and shut your face. Once you run a successful organization, then you can run your mouth!