If you are the team with the smallest payroll, most losses, and bleakest prospects in MLB, and to top it off you are changing leagues and having to learn the pitching and hitting of a whole new group of teams, the last thing you want to do is antagonize your fans, correct?
Well, apparently Houston Astros owner Jim Crane isn’t concerned about antagonizing fans when it comes to his team in his money.
In talking to the Wall Street Journal about the Astros’ tiny $25 million payroll and the calls by some to spend more money to give the team a better chance at winning, Crane made no excuses for the team’s frugal ways.
“It doesn’t bother me that people want us to spend more money,” Crane said. “But it’s not their money. This is a private company, even though it’s got a public flair to it. If they want to write a check for 10 million bucks, they can give me a call.”
The phone ringing yet, Jim?
Essentially the Astros are the Anti-Miami Marlins. Rather than spend hundreds of millions and then scrap the plan with a planned fire sale, the Astros want to keep things in-house and build from within. The Pittsburgh Pirates have taken a similar approach with the results finally beginning to show at the big league level.
Crane, who purchased the team in 2011, doesn’t think the Astros’ lack of success in the past two seasons are a reflection of his ability to own and run a major league baseball team.
“I didn’t make $100 million by making a lot of dumb mistakes,” Crane said. “We’re not going to get everything right, but we’re going to get a lot right.”
While this may be true, there are plenty of successful financiers and entrepreneurs who had massive success in one enterprise, only to see the same tactics fail in another, so pointing to his bank balance may not be the best indicator of Crane being an owner who will turn the franchise around.
While Crane’s plan can be successfully implemented, he may have to pony up a little more money to get that desired mix of seasoned free agent veterans and young horses from the farm system, I’m just not sure that many of the Astros’ fans are going to part with their $10 million tax returns for this cause.