Nolan Ryan: Abandon The Rangers And Run The Astros, Please
The news is that Drayton McLane is still attempting to sell the Houston Astros. After the laughingstock that he turned this franchise into, I can't say that I blame him for wanting to dump the club on anybody who will meet his financial demands without backing out on the deal, like that Jim Crane guy did. I just wish that he would hurry up an get it done.
There was a note from SI.com's Jon Heyman posted on Sunday that a new name had entered the discussions for buying the club, one John Moores, former owner of the San Diego Padres who had to divest the franchise, while decimating the club in the process, as part of his divorce. Moores is from Houston, he went to the University of Houston -- where he met his ex-wife -- and he was the founder of Houston-based BMC Software, which is a big advertiser at MMP. So he wouldn't be just another Yankee trying to take control of the franchise.
I can see where Drayton might find that name attractive, though, after that rather nasty divorce Moores just went through, one really should be questioning whether he actually has the cash to follow through on any hypothetical deal he might propose. So maybe Drayton should be considering other names, and contacting other people. And I think I know just the right person.
According to Heyman and other reports, Chuck Greenberg's deal to buy the Texas Rangers from Tom Hicks appears to be falling apart. Hicks owes a lot of people an awful lot of money, and Hicks seems to be trying to get more money from Greenberg than Greenberg is willing to depart with so that he can pay these people.
Now, Greenberg is from Pittsburgh, and he used to be a neighbor of Mark Cuban, so I can see where Drayton might be a bit skittish about letting him purchase the team. But there are a couple of factors working in his favor that Moores, and other unnamed people, don't have. First, Greenberg has the money. Second, Bud Selig/MLB happen to approve of Greenberg, so getting MLB to sign off on and approve the sale shouldn't be a long-term process.
But there's one other thing, a rather huge thing, that works in Greenberg's favor. Hicks jumped on Greenberg's deal because, despite his offering less money, he attached Nolan Ryan to his bid. Ryan, as we are aware, is a Texas icon. He's one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, owning the record for career strikeouts, having won over 300 games, and the only man in major league history to throw seven no-hitters.
He's been a player, adviser, and an executive with the Astros -- and the Rangers. His family owns two minor league baseball teams, the Round Rock Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks, which are seen as model franchises playing in great stadiums with enthusiastic fans. (For the moment, both of these teams are affiliated with the Astros, but rumors are that Round Rock will be affiliating with the Rangers next year -- partly because their agreement with the Astros is ending, partly because Ryan is supposed to be a part-owner and president of the Rangers next year, and partly because the fans in the Austin area are tired of watching the crappy baseball that comes from a team that is part of the awful Astros farm system.)
And Ryan, who is the current president of the Rangers, is winning kudos for his approach to running the team, which is one of winning based on good pitching, good fielding, and a strong farm system.
The question, of course, is whether Greenberg and Ryan want anything to do with the Astros. Several years ago, the Rangers were in Astros territory, paying off huge contracts to the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ismael Valdez, and Chan-Ho Park -- all players who weren't even on the Rangers roster anymore -- and a thin to non-existent farm system.
But starting with Buck Showalter, then continuing under Ryan and GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers have become a younger team with a focus on pitching, defense, and willingness to move team icons to other positions (Michael Young from short to third) or trade popular players for much needed prospects (Mark Teixeira). So unlike the Astros, the Rangers are in a good place -- much like the Astros were when Drayton purchased the team.
The truth is, they're probably not interested. But seeing the problems they're having with making the Rangers deal happen, maybe they'd be interested in the club down south of the Metroplex. They'll probably have to pay less money, and they'll be seen as heroes. So make the call, Drayton. Instead of a retread like Moores, give Chuck and Nolan a shot.