Over this Golden Era of Astros baseball, we've seen unprecedented event after unprecedented event. Six straight trips to the ALCS for the first time ever--done that. A 39-year-old coming off of Tommy John to win his third Cy Young--that too. A rookie going back-to-back for ALCS and World Series MVP--check. Successfully navigating key free agency loss after key free agency loss paired with a scandal en route to a second World Series championship in six years--complete.
After today's announcement from Jim Crane, the Astros can add "part ways with World Series-winning General Manager" to their list of unprecedented activities.
James Click, architect of the Astros' historic bullpen and stabilizing force after a franchise had been rocked by scandal, has been let go by the Astros. As broken down on Climbing Tal's Hill earlier in the week, the reigning champions have not parted ways with their head of baseball operations since Yankees' GM Larry MacPhail resigned 75 years ago.
The action of parting ways itself is stunning on paper: three seasons, three trips to the ALCS, two pennants and a ring. Anybody with the slightest of pulses on the team is not surprised. Talk has persisted over the course of the season about tension in the Astros front office. Some have been rumors, while others have been said by the parties themselves.
As Dusty Baker himself told Jeff Passan:
""You come from two different places. Everybody in here comes from different places, but the secret is to learn how to coexist in the workplace and that's what makes a successful formula.""- Dusty Baker
Click touched on his stylistic differences with Crane:
"“There are some things that we do very differently. There are some things that we’re lined up on. And that’s going to be true of any relationship between a boss and an employee. I think he likes to act very quickly, in certain cases. I tend toward a more deliberate approach. He is very demanding, but he also gives you the resources to accomplish what he tasks you to do.” "- James Click
Whether it be operational differences from a 30,000 foot view, or actual strategic decisions (Crane's nixing of a Jose Urquidy trade for Willson Contreras at the deadline; clashes between Baker and the front office on where Jeremy Peña should bat in the lineup) the relationship appeared beyond repair. Friday's announcement that the parties had parted ways confirmed what had already been speculated on for some time--the Astros wanted to go in a different direction.
For now, the machine drums on. It is true 19 of the 26 players on the World Series roster were Luhnow acquisitions, not Click. But Click also deserves credit for both building the bullpen and not messing with a good thing.
Only six days off of a championship, the Astros' head of baseball operations position is open. What once seemed unthinkable is true. This turn of events makes the losses of Pete Putila and Oz Ocampo even more painful.
It is yet unknown whether the Astros will look to fill the void internally or externally. Be sure to check back with Climbing Tal's Hill for all the latest updates.