This November was quite an eventful month for Astros fans. In case you’ve been busy and missed some of the big stories, here’s a recap. Early in the month the Astros made a number of ho-hum signings of minor league Free Agents. That list includes RHP Adalberto Flores, outfielders Travis Buck, Nick Stavinoha, & Brad Snyder, 1B/3B Scott Moore, and my personal favorite utility man Joe (my brother from another mother) Thurston.
In the middle of the month, as the owners meetings approached, speculation was that the sale of the team to Jim Crane would be approved. Crane had already been waiting since May and his proposal had a November 30th expiration date. Commissioner Selig and the owners finally approved the deal with the caveat that the Astros would be moved to the American League West starting in 2013. For the most part, Astros fans were happy to see the sale approved. This meant the team could start moving forward after a disastrous season that was the result of years of neglect in the areas of drafting and player development. But the move to the American League does not sit well with the majority of Astros fans. Our most recent poll shows that many fans will no longer follow the team once the switch to the A.L. takes place. If you haven’t already voted in our poll please take a moment to do so.
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At Jim Crane’s press conference he promised “moves will be made shortly after Thanksgiving.” We’ll get back to that a little bit later. In other player moves the Astros added Paul Clemens to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Another pitcher, Lance Pendleton, was also signed to a minor league contract. The Astros lost their starting shortstop to free agency but gained a draft pick in the process. Clint Barmes signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Some of the Astros prospects got a taste of winning when the Salt River Rafters won the Arizona Fall League Championship Game. Trade winds are swirling around Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Wallace and other Astros players.
Shortly after the owners meetings a new collective bargaining agreement was reached by the players and owners. A five year contract is now in place and some changes have been made that will affect how teams spend money on player salaries and the draft.
Now let’s get back to Jim Crane and the moves he promised. To the surprise of pretty much no one, Crane dismissed G.M. Ed Wade and team president Tal Smith. George Postolos had already been announced as President and CEO, so the 78 year-old Smith had to see what was coming. Now the search for a new G.M. begins. The Astros have received permission to interview Texas Rangers Assistant G.M. Thad Levine and Tampa Bay Rays President/G.M. Andrew Friedman, who would be the Astros first choice if Crane is able to entice him away from the Rays.
With the month winding down we learned that Jordan Schafer has, at least temporarily, avoided jail time. In October Schafer was arrested in Tampa and charged with felony marijuana possession. A judge ruled that Schafer must complete a drug diversion program to have the charges dropped. Schafer will have to attend a few classes that teach drug users how to keep from getting busted. You know, things like lighting up in the comfort of your own home, or at least renewing your automobile’s registration before taking a goon ride to the Cheesecake Factory. Schafer will also be doing a few community service hours. Picking up trash along the interstate could be in Jordan’s immediate future. In addition, Schafer will need to stay out of trouble for a court mandated amount of time. If Schafer is arrested again during his probationary period the drug charges could be back in play.
Yesterday the Astros announced that they had signed catcher Carlos Corporan to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Corporan was a flop with the bat last season but has some defensive skills. Blocking runners off the plate is Corporan’s specialty. Astros bullpen coach Jamie Quirk signed on as the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs yesterday. Quirk said he was excited to get back into a position that gives him a chance to be more involved in the running of the game. The month came to a close with last night’s roast and toast of Larry Dierker at the Improv. Astros luminaries let the insults fly at the Hawaiian shirt clad pitcher, announcer, manager, and writer. Alyson Footer has the dish.
It was an exciting month here at the website too, as we welcomed two new writers to the staff. Alex and Brian have done a great job keeping up with all of the breaking stories. We will continue to cover the team throughout the year regardless of league or division. We also have some new features in the works that will be unveiled in the coming months. So stay tuned.