Astros have a few changes occur as the offseason simmers

codypoage
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: A basket of official Major League baseballs in a basket prior to the spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 28, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: A basket of official Major League baseballs in a basket prior to the spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 28, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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Change occurs in every facet of life, sooner or later. The Astros are no exception to the rule.

While the offseason rumors simmer, the Astros’ front office is experiencing employee turnover. Sig Mejdal, one of the key figures in Houston’s data-driven front office, is moving on from the organization as Brian McTaggart of MLB.com notes here. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports here that another key member of the front office, Ryan Hallahan, the Astros’ senior technical architect, will also leave the club.

The Sunday night development is a big story for the Astros. As prominent front office executives, Hallahan and Mejdal made valuable contributions to Houston’s baseball club. There were part of general manager Jeff Luhnow’s original group when he was hired by the Astros earlier in this decade. If you’d wish to find out more about the front office makeup, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated wrote extensively about Houston’s front office in his recent book, Astroball. Go check it out as it was a fantastic read.

The latest departures comes on the heels of another prominent member of the front office, Mike Fast, recently leaving the Astros in late September. Noted here by Alyson Footer of MLB.com, Fast and Mejdal elected to let their contracts expire following the end of the 2018 season.

As Footer mentions in her tweet above, Fast and Mejdal “are now among the most valuable free agents on the market this offseason.” And she is spot on as both were significant factors in the makeup of Houston’s front office and the organization’s success. The same can likely be said about Hallahan. As for the specific reasons, it is unknown exactly why the trio of Fast, Hallahan, Mejdal are leaving the Astros. Based on what I’ve read across a quick search on Google, it appears Fast and Mejdal were wanting to explore other opportunities.

Here is a quote from Mejdal from McTaggart’s article linked above:

"“It was me asking for some time to explore other opportunities,” said Mejdal, whose contract expired on Oct. 31. “Jeff is an amazing manager and always been supportive of me and was again in this case.”"

Under general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Astros have been known to shake up the status quo in the front office environment. For example, the organization did make some notable changes to its scouting department in August 2017. Are we seeing another restructure within the club’s front office as it pertains to the latest news? Or were personal reasons behind the recent departures? Unless it is reported sometime in the future, we may never know for sure.

In other news, it was announced Sunday afternoon that the Astros’ minor league affiliated from Buies Creek would have a new moniker as it makes a move to Fayetteville, North Carolina in preparation for the 2019 season.

As you may recall, Buies Creek, North Carolina was only a temporary home during the past two seasons for the Class-A Advanced club until a new stadium was ready in Fayetteville. The Woodpeckers’ moniker was the winner voted on by the public. The team’s new name and branding efforts were also designed to honor the military base Fort Bragg, which is located in the city.

Here are a couple of informative quotes about the connection between Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, and the town’s new team.

"Fayetteville is the home of Fort Bragg, the world’s largest military installation. The Woodpeckers’ name and branding — designed by the team internally — make myriad references to the community’s deep ties to those who serve.“Woodpeckers are small but resilient. They’re considered to be a tough bird and an important part of the ecosystem,” Zarthar said. “They control the insect population and assist other birds finding places to nest. Those traits match Fayetteville, which is vital to the protection of our country, with Fort Bragg located here."

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By the first appearance, the Woodpeckers are a solid addition to the Astros’ minor league affiliations. It is nice to see a bit more creativity in team names throughout the minors. Hey, baseball is meant to be fun and I consider creative team names along with branding as part of the experience. It also honors the military, which is a huge plus in my book.

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