Astros Round Table Discussion


Another week and that means it is time for another round table discussion with the writers here at Climbing Tal’s Hill. This was a big week for the Astros organization as Drayton McLane reached an agreement to sell the team to Jim Crane. So we discuss that topic this week and also discuss the job manager Brad Mills has done to this point in the season. Without further ado, here is this weeks Round Table Discussion.

What are your thoughts on Jim Crane? Are you happy with him as owner of the Astros?

Brandon: I talked about Jim Crane taking over the Astros in my post a few days ago here and think in the end this is a good move. Jim Crane has a passion for baseball and owning a team and I think will be a very proactive owner. I think this is good for the Astros as McLane has tried to keep payroll down the past few years in preparation of selling the team. The team is heading in the right direction and I think Crane wants a title more than collecting a paycheck.

Jesse: One of the things that surprised me about Jim Crane is how quiet he stayed throughout the whole purchasing process. There has been some published reports that say Crane is the type of guy that likes to avoid the spotlight, which after having an owner like Drayton who sometimes became to involved in baseball operations, this could be exactly what the Astros need. There has been some negative publicity surrounding Crane while he owned his first corporation involving employee rights and lawsuits, but has not addressed those allegations since the purchasing process begins. At some point he will have to address his past if he wants to be approved by MLB owners. The thing that I am happiest the most about this purchase is the fact that the ownership situation appears that it will be settled before the draft. I was concerned that the Astros ownership would be in limbo, and draft spending in a very deep draft could potentially suffer because of it. I’m sure we will hear more on Jim Crane in the upcoming weeks, and will be able to get a better idea of what kind of owner we may have.

Greg: I have read some interesting stuff on Mr Crane. So far I am not a big fan of his. One of Crane’s companies, Eagle USA Airfreight was ordered to pay several million dollars in 2000 as the result of a class action suit. The suit was initiated by employees and applicants who questioned Crane’s hiring practices when it came to minorities and women of child-bearing age. Crane was found to have instructed supervisors to avoid hiring individuals in those categories. In addition, I didn’t like it when Crane compared himself to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. I have often called Drayton the Jerry Jones of baseball due to his meddling style of ownership. I believe an owner should stay out of the spotlight and let the baseball people do their jobs.

Trevor: The guy must love baseball since this is the fourth time he has tried to acquire a team in the last four years. There are a few aspects that an owner must have in order for him to be a success, and that a love/passion for the game, a boat load of money, and some history in the sport. As stated earlier, Crane has previously tried to purchase the Astros, Cubbies, and Rangers. Someone looking for a team that badly exhibits the first two qualities I mentioned: passion and green. Crane’s persistence in the pursuit of a club makes me believe that he not only wants a team, but that he wants to win. These three teams have proved over the last decade that they can compete, and Crane thinks that he has the winning attitude to push them over the edge. Crane also played ball up north in college and posted an ERA below 3, for what that is worth. To me, it means that this is not only a business, it is a part of his life.

What grade would you give Brad Mills after about a month and half into the season?

Brandon: My grade for Brad Mills this year would be C-. I have not been impressed with the job Mills has done to this point but I also give him a little pass with the hand he was dealt. Last year, when the Astros struggled in the beginning and then traded their two stars away, they could of packed it in but he got the team to play good, competitive baseball. I thought they would be able to build on that for this year but once again are struggling. I think he leaves starting pitchers out there an inning too long but I think that is attributed to how god awful the bullpen has been this year. Like I said, I want to give Mills a pass for the talent he has to work with but I would also want to see improvement from the younger players. Looking at how the team ended last year and how they are playing this year, I feel like we have almost regressed.

Jesse: That’s a tough one to answer. I do like the fact that Mills is not afraid to stick with his starter longer with most manager’s even if it does not always work out (like Aneury on Sunday). This is important though, especially when involving young pitchers because you have to know what they are capable of handling at some point. Overall I think Mills has done a decent job. His use of a struggling bullpen has been frustrating at times, but he can’t use Mark Melancon every inning, so sometimes we will just have to be frustrated. He has done a decent job of getting his backup players into games. I would like to see a little more of Matt Downs, J.R. Towles, and Brian Bogusevic so the Astros can see what they have with their younger players, but that is more of a personnel concern and not mismanagement. Mills has been consistent, and given what he’s working with this season that’s all you can ask for.

Greg: I would have to give a grade of D to Brad Mills up to this point. I am not happy with his handling of the bullpen. He continued to use Abad in meaningful situations after it was obvious that he was struggling. Sounds like Brandon Lyon part two, right. Bill (strike 3) Hall has gotten way too much playing time ahead of Sanchez and Downs. Mills has also left too many tired pitchers in the game well after they should have been removed. A perfect example is Aneury’s last start.

Trevor: I think that Brad could do more with a team that has better talent than this year’s Astros, but I have not been impressed. The bullpen is just terrible, and no one can pin that on Brad, but there have been some questionable match ups that he has allowed that cost the Astros some games such as Abad pitching to Ryan Doumit (or anyone for that matter) as well as sticking with struggling relievers in close games. If this team had more talent to which it could turn, I would want Mills out of here, but it is just unfair to judge a man with the faltering bullpen that the Astros possess. The faith Mills has in Lee has proved to be worth while as he has been hot this May, and how the middle infield shakes out could show if he is willing to stick to a man, but the verdict is still out.