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Showing posts with label Jim Crane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Crane. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gwinnett and Springfield- Affiliates in the Backyard

Jim Crane has recently indicated that he has plans to buy a AAA franchise and move it to the Montgomery County area near Houston. In Crane's plan, this team would serve as the Astros' AAA affiliate.  Given that a new stadium needs to be built and Crane needs to actually buy a franchise, the whole process could take while to come to fruition.

How long will it take? Let's put it this way: Unless it is part of an exhibition game or a rehab assignment, I will be surprised if Carlos Correa ever plays a game in Montgomery County.

A big league team owning a minor league franchise in its own backyard is not common, but it will not be completely unprecedented.

A few examples from not too distant history.

Gwinnett Braves- AAA affiliate of Atlanta 
Gwinnett is about 30 miles from Turner Field

The Braves owned the AAA franchise in Richmond, VA and had been affiliated with them since 1966.  They moved the franchise to Gwinnett for the 2009 season.  The team plays at Coolray Field(capacity 10,427).  In 2012, the Braves averaged 4680 per opening in attendance-12th in the 14-team International League.

What happened to Richmond?- For the last three seasons, Richmond has been the home of the Giants' AA affiliate in the Eastern League, the Flying Squirrels.

Springfield Cardinals- AA affiliate of St. Louis
Springfield is about 215 miles from Busch Stadium

The Cardinals purchased the AA franchise in El Paso from a group led by George Brett.  They moved the franchise to Springfield for the 2005 season. The team plays at Hammons Field(capacity 6750).  In 2012, the Cardinals averaged 5111 per opening in attendance- fifth in the eight-team Texas League.

What happened to El Paso?- Since 2005, El Paso has hosted franchises in independent leagues.  However, in 2014, the city is slated to join the Pacific Coast League.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tim DeBlock on the Jim Crane Experiment

Tim DeBlock penned a very accurate assessment of the experiment being carried out on the future of Astros' baseball in this post on The Crawfish Boxes Friday.  I agree with Tim that the results of the radical experiment could lead to a change in the way some owners approach rebuilding in baseball. On the other hand, unsuccessful results could lead to Jeff Luhnow and the team he has assembled needing to update their resumes and buy some new interviewing clothes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Therapist Doesn't Like Jim Crane

As I have built Farmstros over the last five seasons, my interest in Houston's big league club has gradually waned.  The main reason I have become less and less interested in the Astros is that to me following the development of the minor league system is more interesting than keeping track of the guys in the show, even though I live less than 15 miles from Minute Maid Park.  Admittedly, the performance of the Astros during that time has exacerbated the decline in interest, but the intrigue that is provided by the farm sytem is a decidedly bigger factor.

One of the Astros tickets sales people I spoke to, who is familiar with Farmstros, was surprised when I told him that at this point in time, I have little interest in players once they get to Houston.  I assume this will become the case more and more in years to come, even if/when the Astros are competitive again.

As one who grew up with great emotional attachement to the 'strosies, the approach of a new season usually causes me a certain level of conflict.  There's the tug in my psyche telling me that I need to be more loyal to the team of my childhood.  Perhaps, I need to do more to pass that loyalty on to my son.  Isn't that what a good Astro Father would do? 

However, thanks to Jim Crane, I feel no emotional conflict whatsoever as the 2013 season approaches.  On one hand, Mr. Crane's revelations about how he will approach the running of his team and his relationship with the team's fans, is unique and attention-getting.  At the same time, it is liberating to me to see that Crane(and as a result his organization) has no need of or interest in loyalty from the people of Houston, unless that loyalty involves putting money in his pocket right now.

On numerous occasions I have walked away from commercial establishments when I received poor customer service or a sub-standard product.  I never had to work through any emotional baggage on these occasions.  Now, thanks to Mr. Crane, the Astros are on the same emotion-free street as HEB, Target, and any other retail business about which I may need to make a purchasing decision.

My therapist is disappointed about this fact, but my mental health is trending upwards. For this fact, I thank Jim Crane.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Reid Ryan: Hooks Aren't For Sale, Corpus is Astros Country

According to an article in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, The Hooks won't be one of the minor league franchises that Jim Crane buys.  Reid Ryan, the CEO of the group that owns Corpus Christi's baseball team, stated that they are not looking to sell the team. 

On Thursday, Astros owner Jim Crane indicated that the organization is looking into buying several minor league franchises with the goal of enhancing the Astros brand in Texas.  Reid Ryan emphasized that while the Hooks aren't for sale, they will do whatever they can to make sure the Astros stay in Corpus Christi.

Keeping Prospects Close to Home

The revelation Thursday by Jim Crane that his Baseball Company is considering moving its AAA affiliation to the Houston area made me wonder how common it is for a Major League teams to keep its minor league affiliates in its own backyard.  Following is a breakdown of teams that keep their prospects close.

I included affiliates that are in the same state as the parent club or within 150 miles of the parent club.  The Gulf Coast League and Arizona Fall League were not included in the research.

Rome(Low A)

Frederick(High A)
Delmarva(Low A)
Aberdeen(Short Season)

Pawtucket(AAA)(Rhode Island)
Lowell(Short Season)

Chicago Cubs
Kane County(Low A)

Dayton(Low A)

Lake County(Low A)
Mahoning Valley(Short Season)

Colorado Springs(AAA)
Grand Junction(Rookie)

West Michigan(Low A)

Corpus Christi(AA)

Los Angeles Angels
Inland Empire(High A)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Rancho Cucamonga(High A)

Jupiter(High A)

Wisconsin(Low A)

New York Mets
Brooklyn(Short Season)

New York Yankees
Trenton(AA)(New Jersey)
Staten Island(Short Season)

Stockton(High A)

Lehigh Valley(AAA)
Lakewood(Low A)(New Jersey)


St. Louis

San Diego
Lake Elsinore(High A)

San Francisco
San Jose(High A)

Everett(Short Season)

Tampa Bay
Charlotte(High A)

Round Rock(AAA)

Potomac(High A)(Maryland)
Hagerstown(Low A)(Maryland)

RedHawk Baseball Isn't Going Anywhere

The President and General Manager of the Oklahoma City RedHawks reassured the team's fans that the club will still be playing in Bricktown Ballpark in the future.  Concern about the future of the RedHawks arose Thursday when Astros owner Jim Crane indicated that his baseball company is considering having its AAA affiliate in The Woodlands, a northern suburb of Houston.

The RedHawks have been the Astros' AAA affiliate for two seasons, and the Player Development Agreement between the two clubs runs through 2014.  For the Astros to move their AAA affiliate to the Woodands after the 2014 season, they would need to convince the owner of the RedHawks to move their franchise to The Woodlands, convince the owner of another AAA franchise(I assume from the Pacific Coast League) to move their franchise to The Woodlands, or buy a AAA franchise and move it to The Woodlands.  Further, any of these three options would require approval from the PCL and Major League baseball.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trying Out my new Craneslator

The mysterious man who gave me this device a few weeks ago advised me to be careful when I use it.  "I can't guarantee you how long this Craneslator will function," he said.  After Jim Crane was interviewed Thursday by Brian T. Smith about the Astros moving some of their minor league affiliates, I figured it was a good a day as any to give the Craneslator a whirl.  You can read Smith's blog post about the interview here.

The Craneslator's take on the Astros AAA affiliate being owned by a private equity company:

"They have a nice setup there in Oklahoma, but one thing about that situation doesn't make sense to me.  I pay the salaries for the players and the coaching staff, but somebody else is making most of the profit off of the games the team plays.  If there is a way the Astros can make a profit instead, we will be all over that.  And for those fans of Pacific Coast League baseball, I will do my best to make sure we don't get forced to move to the International League. 

The Craneslator's take on the club moving its AAA team to The Woodlands instead of Sugar Land:

"There is quite a bit of evidence that a minor league affiliate in a big league team's backyard can be mutually beneficial.  Frisco and the Rangers have a really good thing going on.  Sugar Land would be a great location for a minor league team.  However, the Skeeters have already established a foothold there, and they seem committed to the independent baseball endeavor.  It seems more prudent for us to focus on an equally fertile market in the Houston vicinity, like The Woodlands."

The Craneslator's take on the Houston's affiliation with the Hooks:

"We are signed on to be affiliated with the Hooks through 2016.  Whataburger Field is a nice stadium, and it is nice to have an affiliate so close to Houston. However, some parts of the relationship aren't the way we would like them to be.  For example, it is frustrating to see our AA affiliate helping our biggest rival, the Rangers, promote their pre-season games in San Antonio.  We are having enough trouble holding on to our part of that market as it is."

The Craneslator is steaming and making a loud, grinding noise at the moment. I am going to shut it down for now.  Hopefully, it will work the next time I pull it out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Is Clemens an Astro of the Future?

Yes, I have read the quotes from Jim Crane about being interested in having Roger Clemens return to the Astros. Yes, I realize that he has provided ample opportunities for fans, bloggers and commenters to share their opinions with the Astros' marketing department.

I understand the attempt to gain fan feedback on this issue by Mr. Crane. However, I find the team's recurring use of this tactic to gauge fan opinion tiresome, and will not be chiming in on this topic until after the Astros do what they are going to do.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Appears the Tax Man Will Come Knocking on Jim Crane's Door

According to my calculations, the signing of second round pick Nolan Fontana Tuesday puts the Astros over their MLB-mandated budget to sign their first 11 picks.  Based on bonus information gathered from various sources, with 7th Round Pick Preston Tucker still unsigned, Houston has exceeded its draft pool amount by $72,900.  The Astros would be required to pay $54,675 (75%) in tax on this amount.

Assuming Tucker signs for his slotted amount of $151,400, Jim Crane's franchise would owe $168,225 in tax on their overspending.  According to a tweet by @ZacharyLevine, Luhnow addressed the fact that the Astros would likely incur a tax for their draft bonuses. 

He also indicated that the club has no concern about approaching the 5% overage limit, which put them in danger of losing a 2013 draft pick.  They would hit the 5% mark if they spend $558,885 over $11.1777 million on their first 11 picks.

NOTE:  My calculations are based on an unconfirmed report that 8th Round Pick Tyler Heineman signed for his slot value of $140,400.  If he signed for more or less than this amount, numbers need to be adjusted accordingly.

UPDATE:  Lee Street tracked down a confirmation that Heineman actually signed for $125,000.  Based on this update, the Astros currently would owe $43,125 in overage tax. If they sign Tucker for his slotted amount, Houston's tax due would be $156,675. 

If this scenario comes to fruition, the Astros will have invested $11.543 million(including the tax) into the first 10 rounds of the 2012 draft.  For comparison sake, Houston spent only $12.821 million on the entire 2010 and 2011 drafts combined. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Gun is Back, Oh, Happy Day!

I am sure that Friday was a special day to be an Astros fan. Jim Crane and his leadership listened to his fans and fought the good fight against the oppressive MLB. As a result of the new owner's efforts, Bud Selig's forces wavered in their decision to prevent the Astros from wearing guns on throwback Colt .45s jerseys during two games at Minute Maid Park. The decision on this matter, MLB announced, would be returned to its rightful place, the Houston Astros.

It was not surprising at all to read the announcement that the Astros would keep the guns on their shirts on April 10 and 20. What was ipmressive was seeing the coverage that the announcement received in the two hours after it was made on Friday afternoon. I sincerely can't wait to see what trick Jim Crane, George Postolos, et al. have up their sleeve as they continue to build good will for their baseball team through the Houston media.

It bears repeating that I hope the new Astros' leadership is as good at building a baseball organization as they are at getting attention. It bodes very well for the Astros of the Future if they are. A few highlights from Friday afternoon's coverage.

Brian McTaggart informed us that the Astros were sticking to their guns.

Steve Campbell at gave us his take on the Astros lack of gun control.

Zachary Levine also on tweeted out pertinent information for anyone looking for tickets to the gun show.

Stephen Goff told everyone what the Astros told Examiner about the decision.

The ever-photo-opportunistic Alyson Footer happened to have a picture of the Colt .45s uniforms(with guns) handy and was kind enough to share it with her readers-PewPewPew!.

The Crawfish Boxes chimed in with a story about how the Astros avoided a wardrobe malfunction.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Sincerely Hope Jeff Luhnow Knows What He is Doing

It struck me during the Houston Baseball Dinner that I'm not really that much of an Astros fan at the moment. The dinner was a neat event and it was fun to reminisce about the first 46 years of Houston's Major League baseball history. Yes, I know that the Colt 45s/Astros have played 50 seasons; however, for some strange reason, the anniversary video played at the event wrapped up with Craig Biggio's 3000th hit in 2007.

I attended the dinner with my Farmstros hat on. Over the past four seasons, being able to follow the Astros of the Future with you has provided me(and hopefully some of you) a diversion from the debacle which has been unfolding at Minute Maid Park. I get a kick out of keeping track of all the players trying to get to the big leagues with the Astros. I especially get a thrill when guys like Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez and JB Shuck do make it to the show.

However, attending the baseball dinner made me step out of my Farmstros hat and put on my "Astros Buddy since age 2 cap." From that perspective, I must admit that the state of the team currently playing in Minute Maid Park is such that for emotional and financial reasons, I would rather go to a Rice Owls game most of the time than make the trip to Crawford and Texas. Further, as a fan who grew up listening to ball games on the radio, it has gotten increasingly difficult to follow the club through that special medium as Mr. Hamilton's broadcasts become less and less focused on the action on the field.

Having said that, I am encouraged by the new direction that Jim Crane is heading with the organization. My thoughts about the new water and food policy have been well-documented as, to me, it is a tangible example of change and, as such, a source of hope for this fan of the club. I am also, encouraged about the possibility of Jeff Luhnow having the wherewithal to bring winning baseball back to Minute Maid Park. Indeed, there is a glimmer of hope accompanying the 2012 Astros.

Yet, at this point, it is just a glimmer. Over time, if it turns out that Jeff Luhnow knows what he is doing,(which I sincerely hope does), I may pull out my "Astros' Buddy since age 2 cap" more often. However, I'll be heading into this spring with the Farmstros cap firmly in place.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Water has Returned to Minute Maid Park

Many thanks to Marco the Astros' tour guide who helped me document the return of outside water to Minute Maid Park, and to Jim Crane for making it possible. For the record, these pictures were taken at 10:17 a.m., Saturday, February 11, 2012 during Fan Fest. Here's hoping 2012 is the start of something cool and refreshing for baseball in Houston.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come Toast Jim Crane with Farmstros on Saturday

This Saturday marks Farmstros first opportunity to bring the bottle of water pictured above into Minute Maid Park. As I posted here before, the lifting of the ban on bringing water into Minute Maid Park is my favorite of Jim Crane's fan friendly initiatives. In fact, I liked the move so much that I bought a brand new bottle of water to take the next time I go to Minute Maid Park.

This Saturday's Fan Fest is that opportunity. Due to other committments, I can't stay much past 10:20 a.m., but I plan to be at Minute Maid Park when the doors open at 10. I will be heading to the Crawford Boxes where I will drink a toast to the new owner of the Astros("Here's hoping 2012 is the beginning of something cool and refreshing for baseball in Houston".)

If you are at Fan Fest early come join me, and we can drink a toast together. If you show up later, feel free to do your own toast, and send me a picture.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jim Crane Sure knows how to Get Attention

It will be great news for fans of the Astros of the Future if the the team's new leadership is as good at building a winning team as they are at drawing attention to the franchise. I took the above picture Friday afternoon about eight miles from Minute Maid Park. It is amazing to me that after losing 106 games last season, the Astros have created enough buzz about themselves that they are the subject of a Baptist church's message board two days before the Super Bowl.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shuck is On His Way to Texas

Astros' outfielder J.B. Shuck took some time while traveling from Ohio to Texas to talk to the Farmstros Village(listen above). Shuck is on his way to Houston, from where he will take part in next month's Astros CAREavan. Among other stops on his trip, Shuck is scheduled to be at the Astros CAREavan Luncheon on February 3 in Corpus Christi. Shuck will be joined at the luncheon by Astros' new owner Jim Crane.

Shuck talked to the Farmstros Village on the ALUMINUM CAN MUSIC MAN hotline.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Does New Ownership mean to the Future of the Astros?

Cash Kruth of posted an article, in which he analyzes the effect of recent baseball ownership changes and speculates on what Jim Crane's arrival may mean to the Astros future.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is This the Astros' Mascot of the Future??

A young artist in the Farmstros office recently asked me if Astros' new owner will give the team a new mascot. I told her that I wasn't sure, so she decided to create one just in case.

I am pleased to introduce you to BUZZ BUNNY. BUZZ BUNNY(pictured above) is an alien bunny captain. He is the nephew of ORBIT and the cousin of JUNCTION JACK. He is looking forward to visiting Minute Maid Park often if Jim Crane will let him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

There Once was a Bully Named Bud

I originally wrote and posted this poem on October 20. Ever the optimist, I depicted my hero "Jimmy" standing up to a school yard bully named Allan Huber. Unfortunately for fans of National League baseball in Houston, in this case, my art does not imitate life.

Allan Huber roamed the grounds with handshakes and with smiles.
He laughed and said, "Yes, ma'am" a lot and looked good all the while.
Young Allan loved his teachers, and his teachers bragged on him
The place seemed better no doubt than a school had ever been.

Yet, when no one was looking, Allan Huber made it clear
To anyone who crossed him that he was someone to fear.
One student who did Allan's homework forgot it one day
And for a week had recess on a field quite far away.

Some students, he tormented with an extra touch of glee:
The children of the owner of the local A&P
Year after year, the grocer's kids were picked last in kickball
And giggled at without restraint by students short and tall.

"I love the grocer's children," Allan said for all to hear,
But if one looked behind the lines, his ways could be seen clear.
It seemed that Allan's reign would last 'til graduation day
The grocer's children looked up and saw only clouds of grey.

Then summer came and went and all the kids returned to school
And found a brand new student there, who seemed to be quite cool.
The teacher took the roll and everybody heard his name
He was the youngest off-spring of Seattle's Martin Crane.

Unlike his older brothers, this young Jimmy had a spine
He sought out Allan Huber and said, "This school will be mine."

Then over time, young Jimmy put the bully in his place
And did it daily with a great big smile upon his face.

It took a while as Allan Huber put up quite a fight
But as the weeks passed by, he began to see the light.

The school, no longer his to rule, young Allan laid quite low
He realized that Crane had won and this was Jimmy's Show.