It was announced earlier this week that the sale of the Houston Astros to a group lead by Jim Crane was unanimously approved by the remaining 29 owners. As a part of that arrangement, the Astros organization has accepted baseball’s request to move to the American League West starting in 2013.
Obviously, such a move has immediate ramifications for the Texas Rangers, as they will now have four other clubs to navigate past en route to a division title, but the addition of the Astros will also mean a geographical rival will now exist for more than a small handful of games each year. After all, the Astros held baseball’s worst record in 2011, so competition between the two clubs, at least in the immediate future, doesn’t seem to be an issue.
What could be a concern is that Jim Crane has not yet committed to either his GM, ED Wade, or his manager, Brad Mills. Both Wade and Mills are under contract for 2012, but Crane, during a press conference today, said his his group would get to work on changes to the club’s baseball operations. That sounds like anything but a vote of confidence.
Fos Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi’s story this afternoon was mostly speculation, but he listed a pair of Rangers executives as potential candidates for the GM opening, should Wade be relieved of his duties, in Thad Levine and A.J. Preller. Crane is said to want to build his organization from within, meaning executives that have worked to develop deep farm systems would likely be high on his list.
While Morosi didn’t get into speculation on potential managers for the Houston organization, one name that immediately springs to mind is that of Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Maddux, of course, was considered a leading candidate for both the Red Sox and Cubs managerial jobs before withdrawing his name from consideration. In doing so, he cited the desire to remain in the same state as his family, noting the travel involved would make it difficult to see them as often as he’d like. If he were to take a job in Houston instead of Arlington, obviously many of those concerns would be mitigated.
According to Morosi, Crane would likely decide prior to the Winter Meetings on December 5, whether or not Mills and Wade will keep their jobs for 2012. If he decides against it, it could be open season on some of the guys that have helped build the Rangers into a success.