SBD/November 19, 2013/Franchises

Astros Still Exploring Possibility Of Triple-A Affiliate In Houston Area

The Astros' current affiliation with Oklahoma City expires after the '14 season
While the Astros "sort out their plans for a new spring training site in Florida, there remains a parallel hope to build a new park in the Houston area for their Class AAA team," according to Evan Drellich of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Astros Owner Jim Crane said that he "expects to again talk to the development company that purchased Camp Strake, a site near Conroe, once the new year arrives." The Astros are currently affiliated with the PCL Oklahoma City RedHawks through '14, but minor-league ownership and franchise agreements "are separate deals," as Mandalay Sports Entertainment owns the RedHawks. For the Astros to move a team to the Houston area, the club "must first buy a franchise." The Triple-A PCL New Orleans Zephyrs "have been reported as [a] possible target for the Astros to acquire." Having a Triple-A team in "close proximity makes the logistics of player movement easier, and it too can help acclimate players to the major-league environment they may eventually play in." If a deal "were to be struck when Johnson Development takes control of the property, Crane estimated that it would take 18 months to two years to make the move happen" (CHRON.com, 11/18). Meanwhile, MLB today announced that the Astros will play host to the '14 Civil Rights Game, scheduled for May 30 against the Orioles at Minute Maid Park (MLB).

RYAN EXPRESS ON TRACK? Drellich reported the Astros have not extended a "front-office or advisory job offer" to former Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, "at least not yet." Crane said, "I have talked to Nolan. We haven't really discussed anything about him joining the team yet. But that certainly could be a possibility down the road. It depends what Nolan wants. ... I think he’s still cleaning up some of the stuff he has in relationship to the (Rangers)" (CHRON.com, 11/15). MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby noted there has "been speculation that Ryan could rejoin" the Astros with son Reid now President of Business Operations. It is an idea that has "been encouraged" by Crane. But Ryan "has declined, at least so far." He said, "Obviously, with Reid, I've enjoyed working with him over the years. ... With what I have accomplished, working with someone who does not embrace me and my opinion is not the place for me" (MLB.com, 11/18).

MEDIA AND MISERY? Drellich also reported, "In perhaps a worst-case scenario where some deal to restructure Comcast SportsNet Houston is not reached, the Astros are prepared to investigate whether an alternate means of broadcasting games is viable." Crane said that landing a "workable TV deal could lead to a higher payroll" (CHRON.com, 11/15)....Drellich wrote "nothing could have prepared" Astros GM Jeff Luhnow for the "feeling he's dealt with the last two years." Assembling an MLB team that has "yet to crack 60 wins under his watch is trying and painful, no matter if the bloodletting has been by design." Luhnow said, "Ultimately, it will be worth it, but it doesn't feel like it when you're going through it" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/17).
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