Houston Astros: The Nuts and Bolts of the Ownership Switch

Scott BarzillaContributor IIIOctober 13, 2011

Say goodbye to Uncle Drayton.
Say goodbye to Uncle Drayton.Dave Einsel/Getty Images

It's amazing how modern journalism works. MLBtraderumors.com reported the move this morning. Their source? Peter Gammons via his twitter account. Yup folks, that's where modern journalism has gone. We have gone from needing three verifiable sources to going with 140 characters or less. Then again, here I am forwarding it to you.

This story was already ably reported on this network today. So, I'm not going to simply regurgitate what has already been said. Quite frankly, there's not a whole lot of meat on that bone. We don't know whether Crane was compensated for the move to the American League. We don't know if the price was reduced. We don't know if Selig agreed to change the schedule to a more balanced schedule so the Astros wouldn't have to go on the West Coast as often.

So, without any substantive information, we are left wondering. Yes, he will get the team, but how much power will he have to make changes in the interim? This is where Bud's meandering has put the new ownership group behind the eight ball. Transition is never easy, and it never happens at a good time, but August would have been so much better.

Who is going to be in charge?

Ultimately, this question is both simple and complicated. Drayton McLane served as the owner, president and CEO of the Astros. Since the Crane ownership is technically a group, he has appointed George Postolos as the CEO. Theoretically, the current administration could all remain in place, but that seems unlikely.

Tal Smith (president of baseball operations) is redundant now. Pam Gardner (president of business operations) may be as well. From there, it is anyone's best guess. Postolos knows enough to be more intimately involved than Drayton McLane was, but he isn't necessarily a baseball guy. So, he will want someone he trusts to run the day to day operations.

Tal Smith might be on his way out.
Tal Smith might be on his way out.Bob Levey/Getty Images

This is where the timing question comes into play. Any good manager of people will always give people time to prove themselves. The question is how much time. If the sale had taken place in August, we wouldn't be in this place, but it is what it is.

When will changes come?

Notice I didn't say if changes would come. They will come.

Tal Smith is likely already gone. Pam Gardner might be as well. Ed Wade won't be gone immediately, but he is now officially on the clock. As satisfying as it might be to fire him now, that will put Postolos in a bind. The winter meetings will take place in early December, and negotiations on all free agents begin in November.

If you fire Wade on day one, then you effectively leave the team rudderless for those winter meetings and for the first half of free agency. You also make arbitration more difficult on them. The front office is also preparing for the draft right now. A new GM could mean new scouts, a new scouting director or possibly a change in philosophy. That's a hard proposition this time of year.

Still, you could always put off making decisions based on a desire for a smooth transition. Eventually you have to bite the bullet. The question is, when do you want to go through such a transition? That will ultimately be his call, but the longer you wait the more candidates end up drying up. It's not an easy call to make.

What to expect this offseason

If the same guys are going to be in charge, then are we going to get more of the same? I'm not so sure. First of all, the mandate to rebuild is clear. Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers are likely on the block now. Furthermore, getting more good, young prospects like they did in the Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn deals. If they get even 75 percent of the return they got on those two trades they will off to a good start.

However, George Postolos is the guy that hired stat guru Daryl Morey to be the general manager of the Rockets. He believes in statistical analysis. He may not hire anyone directly, but he will push for more analysis within the organization. If Wade relents, then he will keep his job longer. If he listens to the analysis, he may keep it long-term.