Results tagged ‘ owner ’

Astros board meets, tours Kissimmee

Astros owner Jim Crane took the team’s board of directors on a tour of the team’s facility at Osceola County Stadium on Tuesday morning. The board held a meeting Monday night in Orlando, where manager Brad Mills and general manager Jeff Luhnow gave updates on the club and went over finances.

Eight of the investors and Crane threw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to the game against the Cardinals.

The board of directors, which is made up of principal investors, will vote on major decisions, but not be involved in day-to-day operations of the club.

“We’ll try to create an atmosphere where they can participate in an owner’s suite when we get home and get some special perks,” Crane said. “They’re over major decisions, like the budget, and we’d have to get some approval from them. Other than that, [president and CEO] George [Postolos] and Jeff will make the day-to-day decisions.”

Crane said he expected the Astros’ Opening Day payroll to be around $60 million when the season begins April 6 against the Rockies.

“We’ll see what happens as the season moves on and whether Jeff makes any trades and what adjustments we might have to make throughout the season, depending on how things progress,” Crane said. “I think we’ll open [the season] where we’re at now.”

Crane has been in and out of spring camp for the past month and said he plans to take at least a couple of more visits to Florida. Earlier in the month, he traveled with the Astros to Tampa to take in a game at the Yankees’ Steinbrenner Field, and he said he’d like to tour a couple of other facilities before spring camp ends.

“We’re getting close [to the start of the season],” he said. “We’re getting excited and ready for Opening Day.”

Crane will meet with some fan focus groups this week in Houston to go over some designs for the team’s new uniforms, which are expected to debut next year when the Astros move to the American League. The Astros have to have a design submitted to Major League Baseball by May 1. He’s even sought input from some former players, like Jeff Bagwell.

“We want it to be a long term uniform that will show well and fans will like it,” he said.

The return of Mills makes sense

Despite all the changes the Astros have been going through in the last month, manager Brad Mills never really appeared to be in danger of losing his job. And deservedly so.

Mills, who will return for the final year of his contract in 2012, has two years under his belt as manager (132-192 record) and has seen the Major League club stripped and payroll dropped while the team stockpiles prospects in a rebuilding phase. Mills did a terrific job of keeping the Astros competitive in the second half of the 2010 season after losing Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and last season’s 106-loss campaign certainly couldn’t be put on him.

The Astros used 20 rookies last season, including starting second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Jimmy Paredes and outfielder J.D. Martinez, and had one of the youngest rosters in baseball, including an inexperienced bullpen. Mills’ mission has been to mold the young players and get them ready as quickly as possible while trying to win games, which is an extremely difficult challenge.

“Brad’s our manager,” new general manager Jeff Luhnow said Thursday when asked about his job status. “I had a good conversation with him, and I’m looking forward to working with him as our manager.”

Astros owner Jim Crane sang Mills’ praises.

“Brad’s a good developer of talent and that’s what we need,” he said. “I like Brad and I had a good time to visit with him and hear his input. We spent some time together [at the Winter Meetings] in Dallas, and Jeff feels the same way about him.”

Wade: Business as usual despite impending sale

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Friday the impending sale of the club won’t have any effect on what moves he plans to make this offseason. Owner Drayton McLane announced at a press conference Friday he would begin taking offers to sell the team.

The Astros made their first significant move of the winter Thursday by trading pitcher Felipe Paulino to the Rockies for infielder Clint Barmes, who appears to be penciled in as their starting shortstop. Wade said Friday the club still has some payroll flexibility, and the Astros would still like to add a starting pitcher, a left-handed hitting outfielder and perhaps another infielder.

“We’ll continue doing what we can to improve our club and take the next step of we can,” Wade said. “Every club has a budget, and we know what our budget is and we’ll work within the confines of that. I clearly understand why we have a budget. You’ve got to work within your means and it’s got to be reflective of what your revenues are. Talking to Drayton and [president of business operations] Pam Gardner and [president of baseball operations] Tal [Smith], it’s clear that what we have to spend fits the revenue we’ve got. We still have to make smart decisions.”

The Astros began last season with a $93 million payroll, but that had been cut dramatically by September following the trades of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Pedro Feliz. Next year’s payroll likely won’t be as high as last season’s Opening Day figure, but it should be higher from where it was at the end of the season despite having $43 million committed to contracts in 2011 and having 11 arbitration-eligible players, including Barmes ($3.3 million in 2010).

“It’s only November,” Wade said. “We don’t open Spring Training until the 16th of February, so we have a lot of times to do things. Before we roll back in here to play the Red Sox in those two exhibition games, I suspect we’ll do a few more things.”

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