What should Jim Crane do first?
Today, tweets rained down from some of the most reliable baseball people in the game confirming an agreement between MLB and Jim Crane to move the Astros to the American League come 2013. This has been understood as the final stumbling block before MLB would approve Crane as the Astros’ new owner. Expectation is that Jim Crane will be in complete control of the organization come Monday the 21st, this now begs the question, and so what’s next? What will Jim Crane do first to help bring stability to an organization in flux?
With most fans already unhappy with the anticipated move to the American League, something to please the masses might be a smart move. Would replacing Ed Wade be that type of move? Most fans aren’t very pleased with the work Ed has done over the past four years, whether his fault or not, and wouldn’t mind a change of direction. If a change were to happen, it would need to happen quickly with the winter meetings fast approaching. That would create another question, who then would take over as GM? Most fans would be elated to see Andrew Friedman in charge but his relationship with Tampa’s owner could be a deal breaker. That said there isn’t a shortage of good candidates ready to lead a team which makes this an attractive option.
One man who has been able to deflect some of the criticisms that Ed Wade has not is Bobby Heck. His drafts, while not bad, have not been the home runs this organization needed during this period. While he has done well with Jordan Lyles and JD Martinez, we are still waiting for at least one of his 1st rd. picks to do anything of consequence, either at the minor league or major league level. His drafts may end up producing quality major league players but at this point, that is up in the air. So does Crane keep Ed Wade but ask him to change up his scouting department?
While replacing components of the front office seems like a logical initial move, what about the on-field staff? A new GM or President may want to clean house and bring new blood to the most noticeable part of the ball club, outside of the players, and while you can’t blame Mills for the talent on field, he was part of a 106 loss club. The reality is that, while changing managers might be the easiest adjustment to make, a new GM might want to evaluate his staff for at least a season before making a final judgment.
Unfortunately for Ed Wade, while he hasn’t done a terrible job, he simply has not made enough positive impact moves to warrant another season. His signing and extensions have been primarily bad and while most of his trades have been good, he needed to hit a home run with the Michael Bourn deal but could only muster a solid double. I expect Crane already has a list of potential general managers and he will make a change fairly quickly. With Wandy Rodriguez expected to be a hot commodity during these winter meetings, whoever is in charge will have some work to do almost immediately.