Astros fans were hoping for the father, but got the son.
Houston Astros celebrate a victory ( Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
The Monday resignation of former team president George Postolos kicked off what has been a crazy week off the field for the Astros. As we have detailed in this space, the list of of gaffes have been numerous and ultimately the epic failure of Comcast Houston will go on to define Postolos’s tenure.
All Postolos’ resignation did was jump start the conversation that Nolan Ryan should be his successor. Ryan obviously has a history with the club and this talk was nothing new. When reports began to surface a few months ago about some unrest in the Texas front office, Astros fans began discussing an instate move for the pitching legend.
It is clear the Astros are an organization that is in flux and has been going through a lot of turmoil. With that being said, the next move they make regarding the front office could very well shape the franchise’s direction for years to come. It is time to see whether or not we should believe the public statements Jim Crane has been making.
While hiring Reid Ryan today as the new Team President does not immediately erase Crane’s missteps so far in his tenure as owner, it is a start. This very well could end up being the most critical hire in team history if the Astros farm system lives up the expectations over the next five years. As the Astros have hit rock bottom, how they respond will define the franchise for years to come. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because to say Ryan has a lot of work to do would be a vast understatement.
As an organization from top to bottom, the Astros have not proven anything. I am a backer of both Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow as I believe they will go on to do big things in Houston, but that has not happened yet. While they have had success in their previous roles, they have never proved they can be successful in positions of leadership where the buck stops with them. That is not true for Ryan as he brings a successful resume with him to Houston.
Aside from his famous pedigree, the 41-year old Ryan has had legitimate success in the world of minor league baseball that he will take into his new role. Through his role as President and CEO of Ryan-Sanders baseball, Reid Ryan has been in charge and responsible for the success of two very well run minor league baseball teams (AAA Round Rock Express and AA Corpus-Christi Hooks). The fact that both of these teams are in Texas also help as Ryan attempts to turn around an organization that has fallen a long way in a short amount of time.
While there may be short term ways to evaluate Ryan, it will take a few years until we can accurately comment on the success of his hire. However, what happens in the short term will go a long way towards determining the health of the franchise.
Will Ryan be able to quickly end the Comcast dispute and get the Astros on TV?
Are Astros fans going to be re-energized and back at Minute Maid Park?
Will there be some corrections to the ill fated Dynamic Ticket Pricing? If that is not corrected, instead will there be ticket promotions to get fans in the seats?
What fan friendly events and marketing will take place?
In short, Ryan needs to do something to bring back what has been lost in Houston. The fans need to feel a part of something again. At first Ryan’s tenure will not be evaluated on wins and losses, but rather on fan sentiment.
While hiring Reid Ryan as team president is a good hire, it is not enough. Gestures of goodwill towards Astros fans must be made. Whether it happens remains to be seen as Astros fans have every reason to feel jilted as of late, but at least this is a step in the right direction. It is the first decision that the Astros seem to have gotten right in a long time.