Local Bloggers got to Talk to Houston Astros’ Prez Reid Ryan
During the recent Houston Astros Fan Fest, the local Astros bloggers got to meet with Mike Elias, Quinton McCracken, and Reid Ryan to discuss the present state of the team. This post will focus on a little deeper on what Ryan said during his time slot, as we look into the past, present, and plans for your Houston Astros. Several important upgrades will happen before opening day, and yes he gives us an update on the fate of Tal’s Hill. While we are thinking of the hill, even when it is removed, our blog will remain Climbing Tal’s Hill for the foreseeable future.
Ryan started off by saying that, “last year was a breakout year for us, it was the pinnacle of what Jim’s (Crane) plan was to rebuild the organization, to build from within, he brought in Jeff (Luhnow), Jeff had the time to put in his plan.” Last year was a breakout year for the Astros, as they improved from a 70 win team in 2014 to an 86 win team in 2015. Based on the plan that Luhnow laid out, he now has the talent to win now, add players to trading prospects, and continue to build for the future. Many oddsmakers are favoring the Houston Astros with high odds of reaching the World Series.
Ryan said that the TV deal they got last season was important for the team because for a couple of reasons. One, it gives the team the money that they need to spend on free-agents to improve the team. Rumors were that the Astros tried to throw some money around this offseason, but players went elsewhere, but there are still some impact players still left. The second thing that the new TV deal did was it reintroduced baseball back to more of the Astros fan base by getting on more TV’s, but they still are only reaching 50% distributed over the Astros’ 5 state territory. However, the larger audience watching games came at the right time as fans got to see an exciting brand of baseball.
Part of the success for 2015, according to Reid Ryan was the homegrown talent with Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Jason Castro to name a few. He also gave credit to the analytics department for discovering players like Tony Sipp, Collin McHugh, and Will Harris. He mentioned the signing of Colby Rasmus and the trade for Evan Gattis as key moves, and he feels for the first time that the Astros are on the same level with other teams. “The most important thing for the organization was that we had the big lead in the division and lost it, a lot of teams would fold, but we rallied and played good baseball down the stretch.”
Ryan believed that when Scott Feldman went down, it was a bigger loss than most people think it was because he was pitching well at the time. Ryan explained, “what Scott was able to do for us was eat up a lot of innings that ended up saving the bullpen down the stretch. This helped us win more games. That was a big blow for us.” While most of Astros Nation seems to be down on Feldman, it’s nice that the President of the club likes you.
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Ryan sang the praises for manager A.J. Hinch, he feels like Hinch was a good motivator, great teacher, “he was able to manage up to Jeff, but also was able to work with all the coaches in the minor leagues as well. Hinch is our secret sauce that this young team really needed. Few guys could relate to veterans and young guys, and he has that range.” I would have to agree, Hinch was not perfect, but he was able to take the Astros into the playoffs.
Goals for 2016
Ryan stressed that he wanted, “to keep the core together and bringing Rasmus back was a big part of that, we have looked into bringing in extra pitching, but at the same time, we don’t want to stop the flow of young guys coming up. When you go into the season, we are strong up the middle, strong an outfield or middle infield as there is in baseball.” Of course, Ryan feels like the question marks are the guys at the corners. Who will step up at first? Will Jon Singleton finally perform like he is supposed to, or is A.J. Reed going to push him out?
“Most clubs go through nine starters in a year,” Ryan explains. “You have to deal with injuries, but we will start with the Cy Young Award-winning Dallas Keuchel, 19 game winner Collin McHugh, and Lance McCullers, who in any other year, would have competed for the Rookie of the Year.” He went on to talk about the other pitchers and depth of the rotation with Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman, and Brad Peacock. “We signed Wandy Rodriguez, if he can bounce back to the form that he has had, he could be a lefty who could come in and eat up some innings.”
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With the trade for Ken Giles, Ryan mentioned that the Astros took what was a good bullpen in 2015, “to one that can rival the Kansas City Royals and what looks like the New York Yankees bullpens.”
How did life change when the Astros started winning?
Ryan said that winning helps, as he has been in baseball for quite a while, he feels like you have to give the fans a good product. “That means winning and playing the game the right way, when you look at our club, we don’t have guys who don’t run out balls, we don’t have guys who at the end of the night are afraid to slide.” He also mentioned that players are not afraid to run into a wall, I wonder which player he is talking about? Hint, it’s George Springer. He feels like the Astros represent Houston well, being “Blue Collared” workers who work hard. Winning the game in New York was big, as they are seeing fans come back to the Astros with increased season ticket sales this year.
Best News Astros Fans!
Reid Ryan told us that MLB baseball is putting a top of the line WiFi network up in all its stadiums. They have already installed the WiFi hubs in the lower levels, and they are working their way up through the club levels into the upper deck. According to Ryan, it should be ready for opening day. As a blogger and talk show host, this is music to my ears because I have trouble live Tweeting from the game. The only question is the network capable of handling that much traffic, but I’ll leave that to the Geek Squad?
Center Field Project
Ryan thinks it was a good thing that they had to push the project back a year because they can look deeper into what they want to accomplish with the project. They are using this time, to try to phase in the construction, because they are now in the mindset that they will be in the playoffs every year. In other words, they may not be able to get every aspect done in one offseason, so they may break the job up. Ryan also believes that they are no longer looking at putting the Astros museum in centerfield, but are looking to do it in close proximity to Minute Maid Park.
There is much more to the interview, so I will break this into two parts. The biggest takeaway from this is the respect that Ryan had for Feldman and that we will have WiFi at the dead zone that is Minute Maid Park when the stadium is packed. Once again, Ryan shows why he makes the big bucks as he has a handle on everything that’s going on with the Astros.