Tag:Jim Crane
Posted on: September 7, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 10:42 pm

Selig wants more playoffs in '12, Astros to AL

Bud SeligBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Bud Selig hopes to have an expanded postseason starting in 2012, the commissioner told Jeff Passan of Yahoo.com.

"It will depend on a whole series of things," Selig said. "The holdup is working out all the details."

Despite Selig's optimism, Passan writes a source tells him the chances of a 10-team playoffs next season are "iffy at best."

The biggest hangup is realignment. And that's being held up by the delay in approving Jim Crane's purchase of the Astros. Passan cites a source that Crane would be OK with moving his team to the American League West, creating six five-team divisions. Crane has little leverage, so moving the Astros remains Selig's best chance at evening the leagues with 15 teams each. According to Fox 26 in Houston, Selig has already asked Crane to move to the American League and the fact he hasn't accepted yet is why he hasn't been approved.

As for the exact format an extend playoff would take -- will it be a one-game playoff between the two wild cards or a three-game series? That's still undecided.

Selig also told Passan that he's still firm on retiring on Dec. 31, 2012, when his contract is up -- "even though a lot of people don't believe it," Selig said.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:04 am

Pepper: Crane's purchase of Astros in doubt

By Evan Brunell

Limbo: The saga of Jim Crane as Astros owner continues to take a strange path, and that path may be headed toward a rejection.

BizofBaseball.com outlines the reasons behind why the deal has stalled... and why approval may be a pipe dream at this point. You'll have to click through to get the full breakdown, but the main takeaway is that Crane shares some sobering similarities with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and we all know how that turned out.

For one, Crane had a contentious divorce himself that ended up in the papers back in 2000, where he reportedly came to blows with his son. Crane's history in court is also checkered, as allegations of racism and war-profiteering are very real concerns, and baseball understandably may not be interested in being affiliated with such a person, especially one whose companies were in federal court 130 times in 15 years.

Current Houston owner Drayton McLane expects a vote to be passed at any minute. But it won't come this week, and might not come at all unless commissioner Bud Selig and all 29 current owners can get on board. But even that might be rendered moot, as Crane is reportedly having a hard time keeping his investment group together, which is large and has investments as low as $25 million committed. Eventually, these investors may tire of having their money tied up in a venture that looks less and less ideal.

Time for a four-man: For a few years now, I've strongly believed that the best rotation would be that of four men plus a fifth starter who could start every now and then. I've blogged on it before, and now Jeff Passan comes out in favor of a four-and-swing rotation, even as teams move to six-man rotations these days. (Yahoo! Sports)

Managers of the year: You know it's September when you start seeing articles on who should win certain awards. Today, two candidates for manager of the year are discussed: The Angels' Mike Scioscia by the Orange County Times while Ron Roenicke of the Brewers gets love from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Return of Strasburg: The return of Stephen Strasburg was highly anticipated, and the phenom delivered Tuesday night with a dazzling performance. Here's a pitch F/X review of the outing. The biggest takeaway? Strasburg is throwing a new changeup. (Fangraphs)

Finally: It took three years, but Dustin McGowan has finally moved past all his injuries, surgeries and rehab. For the first time since July 2008, McGowan pitched in a game when he threw four innings Tuesday night. He wasn't lights out, but that's besides the point. (Toronto Star)

Done in Pittsburgh? Paul Maholm is shut down for the year due to injury, which may bring an end to his Pirates career. The club holds a club option, but it's anyone's guess if the option is exercised. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Venable a Bear: Wil Venable's brother has made the Chicago Bears football team. Winston was an undrafted free agent, but made the squad on special teams. (North County Times)

Beer me: If you're looking for a good beer, give AT&T Park in San Francisco a try, a destination that received a glowing beer review. (Fangraphs)

Montero wants to return: 'Zona catcher Miguel Montero will be in his final year of arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. The backstop has indicated his desire to stay, and the team has reciprocated, with both sides likely to discuss an extension after the season. (Arizona Republic)
Team USA
: Brett Jackson won't be called up to the Cubs this season, as he will instead play for Team USA in the Pan American Games. With a solid spring training, Jackson should cement himself as the Cubs' center fielder. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Back in L.A.: Rod Barajas has found a home in Los Angeles and is interested in returning. The Dodgers may disagree, though, and may prefer to go young at the position next year. (Los Angeles Times)

Social day: Speaking of L.A., it's hard to argue against the fact that the Dodgers have taken the biggest step back in public relations this year. As an attempt to reconnect with fans, the team is holding a Social September campaign, a month-long campaign that will give fans the ability to win prizes and interact with the team. (MLB.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 9:29 am

Pepper: Ethier-Dodgers saga takes another turn

By Matt Snyder

Sunday, we passed along the report that Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier was playing through an knee injury that would need offseason surgery -- a report in which he seemed to insinuate the Dodgers were forcing him to play. Also contained therein, general manager Ned Colletti seemed to say he believed Ethier was faking an injury.

One day later, manager Don Mattingly was upset.

"I'd rather lose my job and us not win than put a guy out there that has a chance of hurting himself and doing something that would affect his career in a long-term way in any shape or form, especially if he says, 'Hey, I can't go,'" Mattingly said (LATimes.com).

Meanwhile, Ethier kind of backed off his sentiment, though he never denied making any of the statements to the Los Angeles Times reporter.

"It's always been my choice to keep playing and keep going," Ethier said (LATimes.com). "They've never said, 'We don't think you can or you can't play.' It's always been they've said, 'Hey, you've obviously put up with this and it's at your discretion.'"

Remember, earlier this season Ethier publicly complained about the Dodgers' ownership situation and reports indicated he was jealous of his friend Dustin Pedroia getting to play in Boston. Is Ethier just angling to leave Los Angeles when he's a free agent after 2012? Or is he a bit of a drama queen? Or did he back off his Saturday statements due to meeting with Mattingly and Colletti Sunday after the duo read the Sunday Los Angeles Times story?

Hard to figure. Whatever it is, it's another mess for the Dodgers. As if they didn't have enough stuff to worry about.

For like of the game: Dirk Hayhurst is a minor-league pitcher in the Rays' system and also a published author. He's been in the bigs before, but not since 2009 with the Blue Jays. He's also very active on Twitter and has his own blog. In his latest entry, Hayhurst explains why he hates hearing the phrase "for love of the game," and instead prefers "like." It's a great read and I highly recommend clicking through with an open mind.

Dunn the realist: It's no secret how awful Adam Dunn has been this season, his first with the White Sox. When asked about a rather drastic production in playing time moving forward, Dunn was fully accountable: “I’m a realist," said Dunn, who wasn't in the lineup Sunday and is batting .163 with 156 strikeouts (ChicagoTribune.com). "I’m not like an idiot. We’re right in the middle of things. What do you do? What do you say?”

Royals ready to 'go for it:' Royals general manager Dayton Moore is sitting on mountains of prospects, several of which have begun to filter into Kansas City this season. Now, it sounds like he's done biding his time, because he plans on pursuing a deal this offseason in which the Royals cough up prospects to get a proven starter -- and The Kansas City Star article mentions one like the Indians getting Ubaldo Jimenez.

Relationships to keep Friedman in Tampa Bay? Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman has been the subject of rampant rumors in the Chicago area, now that the Cubs have a vacancy at general manager. Speculation by many is that Friedman would jump at the chance to be freed from the mighty AL East and get to throw some money around instead of pinching pennies. A TampaBay.com article says that won't matter, because of Friedman's strong relationship with owner Stu Sternberg, president Matt Silverman and manager Joe Maddon.

Crane in danger? Prospective new Astros owner Jim Crane has yet to be approved by Major League Baseball, even though two weeks ago Drayton McLane said a deal would be approved in two weeks. Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle believes Crane may not be approved by commissioner Bud Selig. "If Commissioner Bud Selig is comfortable with Jim Crane owning the Astros, then Jim Crane will own the Astros. You can read the delay in the approval process any way you like, but as someone who has known Selig for almost 30 years, it’s not insignificant." Justice does point out that a deal is still obviously possible, but it just seems fishy.

Rockies after arms: The Rockies top priority this offseason will be to upgrade starting pitching. That might sound a little weird after they just dealt Ubaldo Jimenez, but they actually traded for two guys who could end up being frontline starters in Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. But they might not be ready to lead a team to the playoffs just yet, so a trade for a proven veteran might be coming in the winter months ahead (Denver Post).

Ribbing the rook: Mariners rookie Trayvon Robinson gave a high-five to a fan and heard about it from his teammates in a playful way (MLB.com).

Sanchez may be done: Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez -- who seemed to be having a contest with Barry Zito to see who could get kicked out of the rotation for good -- might miss the rest of the season with his ankle injury. Meanwhile, Zito is feeling much better (Extra Baggs). If the offense doesn't drastically improve, however, none of this will be relevant. 

Only triples: Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson got four at-bats in interleague play and tripled for his only hit. Baseball-Reference's blog found 20 players in big-league history with only triples among their hits in a season.

Branyan the barber: Did anyone notice Sunday night that Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos is now bald? Yeah, that's because he entrusted veteran slugger Russell Branyan with cutting his hair. And Branyan purposely took a little more off than was asked. "He pulled a nice little prank on me," Bourjos said good-naturedly (LATimes.com). "I keep scaring myself when I look in the mirror."

Let's play two ... with one extra player: Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks teams should be able to expand rosters by one on days when they're playing a doubleheader (MLB.com).

Happy Anniversary: On this day back in 1977, Duane Kiper hit his only major-league home run. In 3,754 plate appearances. Current White Sox color commentator Steve Stone was on the mound. Funny note: Stone's future broadcast partner (for Cubs' games) Harry Caray had the call that day. (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 3:55 pm

Approval of Crane as new Astros owner delayed

CraneBy Evan Brunell

Jim Crane's ownership of the Astros has been delayed, as MLB owners will not vote on Crane's takeover this week as planned, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Commissioner Bud Selig still isn't comfortable with recommending Crane to the rest of the owners for approval despite three months of research.

“The standard due diligence that must be completed before any transaction of this magnitude can close remains ongoing,” MLB said in a statement. “Because that procedure is continuing, it is not expected that the proposed sale of the Astros will go to the approval process at this week’s owners meetings. Major League Baseball will continue to work as expeditiously as possible to complete the process.”

A source said he believed that Crane would eventually be approved, but "just [doesn't] know" if he will in actuality be approved, which has to be sobering news for current owner Drayton McLane, who has been trying to sell the 'Stros for some time now. The source did caution that the delay has nothing to do with a possible rejection of Crane; simply that the process has been delayed.

McLane was caught by surprise at the news, it has been said, as he was so certain Crane would be approved that McLane sought the hopeful owner's opinion on recent moves the Astros made, such as dealing outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn as well as firing pitching coach Brad Arnsberg.

The holdup doesn't appear to be due to financing the sale, but rather Crane's history of discriminatory practices with one of his companies in 1997, with thousands of complaints against Eagle USA Airfreight dealing with minority and female hiring practices. A judge found 203 of 2,073 claims to have merit, and Eagle was also sued 11 times in federal employment discrimination cases. Crane dismissed the issue back in May, but clearly MLB is taking it seriously. Commissioner Bud Selig is especially sensitive to the issues of minority and female hiring. Crane is also linked to war profiteering, with Eagle Global Logistics alleged to have inflated the cost of military shipments to Iraq. Eagle Global Logistics paid $4 million to settle the issue.

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 6:42 pm

Crane could take over Astros on Aug. 22

Jim CraneBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Astros could belong to Jim Crane as soon as the end of this month, Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Current owner Drayton McLane warned "nothing is set in concrete," Crane could be approved by the other 29 owners at next week's owners meetings and official control would pass to Crane on Monday, Aug. 22.

The owners meet next Wednesday and Thursday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Crane agreed to buy the Astros for $680 million in May.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 10:36 am

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

By Evan Brunell

The Houston Astros are in a bit of a sticky situation.

Incoming owner Jim Crane has yet to officially assume control of the club, and until he does, cannot and will not be publicly involved in the team's maneuvers, as Fox Sports reports. That approval is not likely to come until the next owner's meetings, which take place Aug. 17-18.

“The owner definitely will have a voice at the deadline regardless of whether they have transferred [ownership] officially,” a rival executive said. “No way he won’t have a voice. [Outgoing owner Drayton] McLane will make sure of that. He will want the guy who is buying the club to have a voice.”

That leaves Houston in limbo for the trade deadline, as Crane rightly deserves to influence the team's future. Despite the ability to make his opinions known privately, Crane will be working with one hand tied behind his back. In addition to being unable to wield complete power over the trading deadline, Crane has to work with a GM that he did not hire. While Crane is widely expected to fire Ed Wade eventually, that won't come until he can both assume control and evaluate Wade's work. Wade is in a sensitive situation, as he has to pull off the best possible deal he can for his incoming owner to save his job.

McLane has resisted for years the call to rebuild, hoping to recapture the glory of winning the 2005 NL pennant. The 'Stros have been in need of a rebuild for a few years, so they're already behind the eight-ball and boast no true superstar on the team, several solid players and a farm system ranked No. 26 by Baseball America. That's a tall task that no one trading deadline can fix, but Wade and Crane can begin the process.

The Astros' best player, Hunter Pence, isn't expected to go anywhere. While his current stature as an important part of Houston's future can always change, the fact remains that he is currently the face of the franchise and is under control for two more seasons. It would not make sense for the incoming owner to kick off his tenure in the eyes of fans by trading Pence; at least not yet.

That leaves Wandy Rodriguez as the next-best player available, although Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Jeff Keppinger and anyone not named Pence and starting pitchers Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles will be considered. Rodriguez has quietly become one of the best left-handed starters in the league and boasts a long-term deal through 2013 with a club option that converts to a player option upon trade. With a total package of $34 million due Rodriguez from the start of 2011, it's an affordable deal for a big impact that many teams can take on.

How big of an impact can Rodriguez have, though?

A pretty big one. As Ken Rosenthal points out, Rodriguez's 2.44 ERA since June 23, 2010 is the second lowest in the majors behind Felix Hernandez's 2.36. Trailing Rodriguez are Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay at 2.45 apiece, with Cole Hamels rounding out the top five at 2.49. What team wouldn't like to have an affordable left-hander who ranks among the best in the game?

You can bet the Yankees are interested. GM Brian Cashman likes to talk game about how he doesn't need to upgrade his rotation. At first blush, you can't blame him. CC Sabathia, All-Star selection or not, is an ace. A.J. Burnett has a big-money deal and big upside. Phil Hughes could be the ace of the Yankees in a couple years, so he gets a spot. Bartolo Colon, thanks to a stem-cell rejuvenated shoulder, is pitching the best he has in years while Freddy Garcia somehow is on pace for a career-low ERA. Heck, they're deep to the point that Ivan Nova was just demoted to Triple-A despite a 4.12 ERA in 16 starts.

But let's look at that list again. Sabathia is fine. Burnett runs hot or cold and posted a 5.26 ERA last season. Hughes just got past a baffling case of decreased velocity, and it's anyone's guess if he can last long-term, while Colon and Garcia were scrap-heap pickups for a reason. Also, and there's a reason that the Yankees chased Cliff Lee so hard and really want a second left-hander. That's crucial in a division stacked with imposing left-handed hitters, especially in Boston.

If the Yankees see a deal for Rodriguez, they will pounce. There are plenty of other suitors chasing starting pitching, though, starting with the Tigers but extending to virtually every other team in the majors. Houston won't have a problem moving Rodriguez, but may find the going a bit tougher with Brett Myers.

Myers joined the Astros last season after eight up-and-down years with Philadelphia. He broke out last season with a 3.14 ERA in 223 2/3 innings, but an increased allowance in home runs has mostly accounted for this year's backsliding to a 4.67 ERA. All told, Myers is who he is, which is a solid No. 3 capable of putting up an ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range. He does have value as he makes $7 million this season, $11 million the next and then the club can pick up a $10 million option if they so choose. He simply has less value because he's being paid commensurate value and it's a lot easier to find a No. 3 or 4 starter than it is a No. 1 or 2, which Rodriguez is.

Another player that could be on the move in Houston is Michael Bourn, who has a rising price tag, is a free agent after 2012 and boasts Scott Boras as his agent. Bourn's value is probably at its highest right now; he's been consistent the entire year and boasts a career-best .290/.354/.402 line at age 28, leading baseball with 35 stolen bases. Even better, he's only been caught four times, so he has serious value on the basepaths. Add in being perhaps the best defensive center fielder in the game and you have a knockout package for a team looking for the perfect leadoff man.

The Nationals are seeking a long-term center fielder and need a leadoff hitter in the worst way. Bourn fills both categories, and the specter of Boras as agent won't bother the Nats; the team has a close working relationship with Boras and often drafts or signs his players. Other teams that could use Bourn to varying degrees are the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Marlins (yeah, right), Padres and Rangers. Of that list, the teams that seem to have the best fit are the Jays, Braves and Brewers.

The Astros are in a challenging situation moving forward, as they clearly need to be rebuilt. Even an incoming owner with public relations issues to be concerned about has to see the situation in Houston for what it is. That makes it extremely important for Crane to communicate his intentions clearly, for Wade to not only see through Crane's wishes, but to extract a deal that solidifies both Houston's and his future.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:15 pm

Selig to meet with potential Astros owner

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jim CraneMLB commissioner Bud Selig will meet with potential Astros owner Jim Crane (right) on Monday in Milwaukee, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle

As soon as Selig gives his OK, it's expected the sale of the Astros will go through smoothly.

"It'll sail through," current owner Drayton McLane told Justice. "Major League Baseball has seen the documents along the way."

Crane leads a group that has agreed to buy the Astros from McLane for $680 million. Crane has previously attempted to buy the Astros, Cubs and Rangers. McLane bought the team in 1992 for $117 million.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 12:01 pm

Approval may not come easy for Crane

By Matt Snyder

Earlier this week, Drayton McLane agreed to sell the Astros to Jim Crane for $680 million, though the sale isn't finalized until the bid is examined by MLB's ownership committee and executive council. From there, Crane would have to be approved by the current MLB owners in a vote. Most of the time, these hurdles are a mere formality, but Crane may have an issue.

Back in 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Crane's company -- Eagle Global Logistics -- had discriminatory workplace practices. (New York Times) Now, lots of times just hearing something like that sends people into a tizzy on each side of the fence. There will be a line of people claiming everything is considered discriminatory these days and a line of people ready to convict sight unseen.

Let's take a long look at some of the findings, though. I'll present both sides and let's please consider both before making a decision, OK? Here we go.

On the bad side (for Crane):

There was an accusation that Crane told his managers not to hire blacks because "once you hire blacks, you can never fire them." There were also witnesses that said Crane never publicly advertised job openings for fear qualified minority job seekers would apply.

Some other claims: "Eagle had also demoted women from managerial positions, maintained a hostile workplace, paid blacks, Hispanics and women less than male and white counterparts, and shredded important documents."

Some former employees did file a civil lawsuit against Crane and his company and he settled out of court for $8.5 million.

On the good side (for Crane):

Crane admitted no wrongdoing in the lawsuit, so it's very well possible he was just trying to eliminate bad publicity before the case gained any further notoriety. Also, Crane and his company have continually denied the allegations, and have since gotten $6 million of the settlement back due to only 10 percent of the initial claims being deemed worthy of compensation.

One of Crane's lawyers said the case was "an unfortunate example of an unfounded prosecution of a private employer."

Also, the case never went to trial -- so none of the witnesses were deposed in a court of law.

What is all means

Obviously, Crane is going to have to answer some questions to Major League Baseball and his prospective fellow owners. The allegations are a decade old, so even if there was some wrongdoing, Crane could convince the powers-that-be that he's learned his lesson and changed. Or he could say the charges were all bogus and use some of the evidence he has in hand.

One of the biggest areas of concern for Major League Baseball has to be the public relations one. The league need not try the case or anything of the sort, but if an owner is widely considered discriminatory by the fans, it's bad for business. The NAACP has said Crane has a "dismal record in the area of discrimination." Many of the owners might feel there's no reason to bring in an owner that draws that kind of sentiment from anyone -- as there are bound to be suitable owners out there with zero baggage. It is an exclusive club, after all, being that there are only 30 franchises. It's not like it's a court room where they have to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. It could simply be a matter of not wanting to deal with any fallout.

Also, looking down the road, do the Astros have trouble landing minority players via free agency? Do members of the front office sour on the potential new owner? These are certainaly secondary considerations at this point, but ones I wouldn't mind hearing an opinion on from Astros fans.

All in all, what appeared a relatively uneventful sale at first might actually get a bit messy. Time will tell.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com