Houston Astros fans have put up with a lot of garbage in recent years. While this year's team is slightly more watchable than last year's (despite having a worse record), the Astros are still many years away from... anything. Now that a sale appears imminent, and Jim Crane could be taking over as early as this month, he should kick the door in and start throwing his weight around immediately.
Will that be a good thing? It's tough to tell. We don't know a lot about Crane, and Astro fans are experiencing a clear case of "I don't care who Drayton sells to, because anyone is better than Drayton." Normally, I don't fall in to the group think with these sorts of issues, but you can count me in with that group for sure. I've never been a Drayton McClane fan, and here's my list of requirements for the new owner.
1. A guy who has no interest in moving the team out of Houston, ever.
That's it. So when Crane hits the office, I don't know what is plan is, but whatever it is - he needs to put it into place quickly. None of this gentlemanly "let the team and the baseball operations people play out the season" silliness. Let's dispense with the niceties, shall we?
If Brad Mills is your guy, fine. I'm not a big fan of his managing style of diaper-changing, tucking-in, ego-stroking, and coddling - but given a good roster, he could probably get this team back to winning. I suspect Mills is in the plan, unless Crane just thinks he's an awful manager. Mills certainly hasn't had the personnel to fairly-judge what he can do in Houston.
General Manager Ed Wade is gone. Will it be as soon as Crane steps in, or will it be at the end of the season? I have no idea why Crane would waste time with this, but it should be obvious. If Wade is in the future plans for this team, then we'll know pretty quick that Crane is going to be just another owner. But I suspect that like most multi-millionaires, Crane has an ego, and he's going to want to make his mark. To walk in the door and throw the guys out who aren't performing would be a good start.
In a perfect world, Crane would make one of the all-time Houston sports blunders right, and go hard after former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, who is currently the Senior VP of Baseball Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. Crane himself is a baseball guy - he played the game in college (well), and no doubt he'll have some say in what goes down with personnel. However, he should extend a Bill Parcells-esque offer to Hunsicker to be the "Baseball Czar" in Houston. Just let him do what he does and get this team back where it needs to be.
Rivers touched on rumors that the Rays' Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman might be the guy Crane has tabbed to take over as GM. Friedman, Hunsicker, or some combination of the two? Sign me up.
Every Astro fan just wants the team to be relevant again, for starters. The last thing we need is for a new owner to come in and start acquiring big name expensive players at the expense of the farm system, which is a work in progress in much better shape than it was in years previous. The moves need to start in the front office, and with a half-season of COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS baseball left to be played, perhaps that time could be put to good use so the team can hit the ground running in 2012.