SBD/February 18, 2013/Franchises

Astros Owner Crane Expects Team To Become A Winner On, Off The Field

Crane yesterday played golf with President Obama at the Floridian National Golf Club
Astros Owner Jim Crane on Saturday spent just four hours at the team's Spring Training camp, but “acknowledged his fingerprints are now on the Astros," according to Brian Smith of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Crane “stole the show” when he “swooped in on a helicopter” as the team participated in its first official full-team workout. The Astros finished the '12 season with a 55-107 record, the worst in MLB. But Crane said, “We’re expecting to turn this into a winner and starting today.” Crane “wouldn’t place a timetable on the Astros’ rise.” He also “backed up a statement made … last week that the Astros lost money the last five years.” Crane: “The numbers are the numbers. As things progress with our TV contract, we’ll have more money to spend on players. So that’s the issue.” He added, “We’re not trying to run away with a sack of cash. We’re just going to run the team efficiently, spend money wisely and run a smart business like most of the good teams do.” Crane “referred to St. Louis, Atlanta and Oakland as MLB clubs that run efficient business models and ‘don’t spend money they don’t have.’” Smith noted the Astros are “projected to have an opening-day payroll worth $25 million.” Crane said, “We’re going to spend money we have, but we’re not going to spend more money than we have.” Smith added Crane was “expected to host President Barack Obama during an outing Sunday at the Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.” (, 2/16).

TEAM ON THE RIGHT PATH: SI's Joe Sheehan reports no player on the Astros' roster "earns more than $3 million, and the roster has a guaranteed payroll of just $14.6 million," $5M of which goes to P Wandy Rodriguez, who was traded to the Pirates last year. The team's Opening Day payroll will be "lower than any team's since the 2008 Marlins," and given the "dearth of long-term solutions on the roster ... the '14 and '15 payrolls will fall in that same range." However, "things are changing." Crane "has charged GM Jeff Luhnow with restocking the farm system, and he's allowed Luhnow to do so without making the kind of cosmetic moves ... that might appease local media, casual fans and the players' association." Sheehan notes research shows a team going from 55 to 60 wins "means little to the bottom line in the short term or long term." Sheehan: "It's just not worth paying bigger salaries to players who can only get you from terrible to slightly less terrible. Fans don't respond by buying tickets, media revenues don't improve and the chances of reaching the postseason remain remote" (SI, 2/18 issue).
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