It starts at the top.
Ownership. The front office. Management. There’s a certain je ne sais qoui that happens when all three of these essential pieces come together and work towards becoming the best at what they do for an extended time.
When the owner (and we can use Jim Crane as an example, because we are Houston Astros fans) says he will spend money, it’s always a waiting game to see if their promise is upheld. In 2014, Crane promised to do just that. “It’s pretty obvious where our needs are, and we’ll work on those in the offseason and start loosening the purse book.” Every single off-season since then, Jim Crane has either spent money or taken on incoming salary via trades.
2015-2016: Colby Rasmus, Doug Fister
2017-2018: Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Gerrit Cole
An owner that keeps his promises, keeps the trust of his staff, his players, and his fans. Time and time again, Jim Crane has kept his promises to make this team better and to keep them contending.
The Front Office Is Key
When you purchase a team, you want someone with the same ideals, the mental fortitude to get things done, and someone who will consistently make the right moves. Jeff Luhnow was the perfect choice to be chosen as the first General Manager under Crane’s ownership.
Over and over, Luhnow has shown the propensity to both not hesitate on making a deal, but also to not make a deal that will handicap the team moving forward, whether it be trading certain prospects, or re-signing certain impending free agents, or even giving certain first time free agents the wrong contract.
We’ve seen Luhnow try to trade for Bryce Harper at the deadline, and it would’ve gone through if the Washington Nationals hadn’t backed out. Luhnow opted not to re-sign Marwin Gonzalez last off-season. He’s opted not to trade his top two prospects in Kyle Tucker, and Forrest Whitley, for several years, because he knows the importance of a, built from the ground-up, farm system.
With Players Comes the Coach
A.J. Hinch has been at the helm of the Astros since 2015, and in that time has compiled a 376-276 record. With a degree in psychology from Stanford, he’s constantly used his mind and his wit to not only contribute to a successful run as manager, but to understand his players better, and to connect on a level that many managers cannot.
Knowing your players on more than a surface level is important. When you know your skipper has your back and believes in your ability day in and day out, and there is no disconnect, even a little bit, goes a long way over the course of a 162 game season.