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Jim Crane and the Astros Draft

Because of Drayton McLane's problems with the draft, mainly from 2007, when the Astros failed to sign its first two picks, both of whom became 2010 first-rounders, Astros fans will be nervous heading into the June 6 Rule 4 First-Year Player draft.

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Jim Crane will not be certified as the new owner by that point. It'll still be Drayton's money getting spent on those picks, so will the Astros front office be frugal or conservative with their selections? Will they fail to sign people because they can't pay them what they're expecting? Will Crane's newness force the Astros not to sign anyone over slot price?

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I think those concerns are a little overblown, and it's more about the economics of this team than anything. See, this Astros team has an operating budget heading into the season. They're not in danger of running out of money and probably have a set budget for the draft, determined by where their picks sit.

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Bobby Heck has shown a great knack for using his budget wisely, signing some guys for over slot both in the first round and later on. He's always stayed within the limits of that budget, though, and thus can't take all over-slot guys and expect to replenish this system.

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The same will work this season. Heck will have a budget, but probably won't be able to go over for every pick in the first five rounds. At some point, it'll be Crane's money he's spending instead of McLane, but it's still based on that budget that won't move much.

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All that might change next season, when Crane will be able to set his own budget and philosophy for the draft. Plus, we might have a hard slotting system collectively bargained by the next draft, so this whole concept of "going over" may be a moot point.

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