Astros Reaffirm Commitment To Analytics With James Click Hire
Astros Owner Jim Crane has tabbed Rays VP/Baseball Operations James Click as the club's new GM, "completing the overhaul of his beleaguered franchise" and bringing on a new head of baseball operations who "aligns almost perfectly with the analytical methods that made the Astros the envy of baseball," according to Chandler Rome of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The move to hire Click comes after the team last week named Dusty Baker manager. Click had spent his entire 14-year baseball career with the Rays, contributing to "almost every facet of front-office work" during his tenure. Given his extensive technological and analytical background, Click "should mesh seamlessly with the remaining members" of former President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow's team. Since '15, the Rays' payroll has not exceeded $78M, and in "stark contrast, Click now will oversee a team projected to spend more than" $220M. The search for Click was "swift and shrouded in secrecy, an antithesis of Crane's hunt for Baker." Click "interviewed for the position last week," but aside from that, "little was known about the strength of his candidacy or the search in general" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/4).
BREAKDOWN: YAHOO SPORTS' Jack Baer noted Click's background "figures to create an interesting dichotomy with Baker," a veteran manager who is multiple decades older than Click and "well-known for a more old-school approach." Baker's hire was "widely seen as Crane's attempt to show the team means business in cleaning up its operations, but Click's hire could signal that the team still plans to follow the zealously analytical approach that made it one of the most divisive teams in baseball before the scandal" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/3). In Tampa, Marc Topkin notes Click had been "given expanded duties with the Rays earlier this offseason as one of three executives elevated to replace" former Senior VP/ Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom when the Red Sox named him Chief Baseball Officer. Rays Owner Stu Sternberg "seemed frustrated by the latest loss, though resolute that the team can deal with it under the leadership" of Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM Erik Neander (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/4). ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted, "The Rays have been raided repeatedly by other organizations in recent years" (TWITTER.com, 2/4).
A NEW DAY: MLB Network’s Brian Kenny, on MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred breaking tradition and coming down hard on sign stealing, said, “Whether it’s a bull frog on the arm, or it’s sign stealing, or it’s steroids, it’s a wink and a nod culture. It stuns me that this commissioner came out and said, ‘No wink, no nod, real consequences.’” The Athletic’s Evan Drellich said, "I don’t think Rob Manfred had a choice (but) to aggressively pursue this." He added, "You have a lot of competing forces, competing subcultures, all at once. You have Major League Baseball and its interests and when it makes sense to go in and investigate and when it doesn't. You have a clubhouse culture where players protect themselves, you have a front office culture where you are trying to get any edge possible and that bleeds over into the player culture” (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 2/3).