Jeff Passan's piece has 'Stros fans buzzing
It's no secret that the Astros have had a rather tumultuous start to the offseason for a reigning champion. Passan's piece spoke at a 30,000 foot view of the tension that has occurred between Jim Crane and now ousted General Manager James Click. The differences over the last three seasons came to a head in the last week.
Much of what was spoken of in the piece had been known already: Reggie Jackson and Jeff Bagwell have become trusted confidants of Crane, Click was likely on the way out regardless of how the postseason transpired and Crane is a demanding boss.
The tone of the article was gloomy, alluding to the Astros having issues that will present an uphill battle to overcome.
Two troubling things in particular stand out:
1) Bagwell is rather critical of the player-development system.
2) This anonymous quote from an Astros employee: "Sometimes I wonder if Jim thinks he's Jerry Jones."
As for the Bagwell criticism, this is rather interesting. As Ben Dubose wisely pointed out, we don't even know what issue Bagwell has. Is player development over-staffed? Under-staffed? Are the minor leaguers not developing? This in particular would be an interesting point of view, as former fifth-round pick Hunter Brown just won PCL Pitcher of the Year and was dominant in his Setpember/October appearances. What Gold Glove winner and ALCS/World Series MVP Jeremy Peña just accomplished in his rookie season needs no introduction.
Without any further context, Bagwell's criticism seems like much ado about nothing. Should he be calling the shots as the GM that replaces Click? Probably not. But he's a franchise icon that was drafted in the fourth-round and acquired in the only other trade in franchise history that rivals Yordan Alvarez' in one-sidedness. If he has something to say about player development, as long as he isn't reinventing what has been a successful wheel, he likely knows what he is talking about.
The anonymous quote comparing Crane to Jerry Jones is troubling in some ways. Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 and tasted success immediately, winning three Super Bowls by 1995. The Cowboys have had limited success since then, with Jones' questionable decision-making as GM receiving much of the blame.
The last thing we want to see of the Astros "Golden Era" is a transition into a wandering in the wilderness period because of a power-hungry owner. I don't see this being the case. Here's why.
This one paragraph had an entirely tone than the rest of the article:
"If Crane does fill the job -- multiple people inside the Astros believe he could decide to run the team a la Jones -- the lessons are clear: The person needs to appeal to Crane's impulses, as Luhnow did more than Click. Crane, sources said, is a demanding boss -- generally in a good way."- Jeff Passan
That last sentence sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise mostly negative article. Is Crane demanding? Yes. But he wants to win and has consistently provided the necessary resources to succeed, whether it be the baseball team itself or for the just played Cadence Bank Houston Open that the Astros now own.
Crane has not been a power-hungry, ego-maniac since taking over the team. He did not immediately give himself decision making power over baseball operations, but became more hands-on only after being blindsided in a scandal.
He knows the game. Crane is a member of the Central Missouri State Hall of Fame after a fantastic pitching career. He isn't just a business mogul that bought the team as a hobby.
Crane knows what he is doing and Crane wants to win. And so far, he has. Both Jeff Luhnow and James Click brought a World Series to the organization. He hit on his hires in AJ Hinch and Dusty Baker.
Is it odd that Click isn't back in charge? Sure. But do a couple of offseason hit pieces on the bad boys of baseball give valid reason for Astros fans to panic? Not in the slightest. Jim Crane deserves our trust until he gives us a reason not to.
Passan's piece closes like this:
"When it comes to who's running the Houston Astros, neither titles nor contracts matter. It is one person and one person only: Jim Crane."- Jeff Passan
I'd respond like this: when it comes to who's running the Houston Astros, World Series Titles matter. It is one person and one person only I want owning this team: Jim Crane.