The Houston Astros are starting the offseason by shaking up their front office, but it’s raising even more questions for a team that’s been peppered with them since the start of the World Series.
Astros owner Jim Crane announced Thursday that team president Reid Ryan has been re-assigned and Crane’s son Jared is taking on a leadership role. In the aftermath of that announcement, Hall of Famer and Astros legend Nolan Ryan — Reid’s father — said he won’t continue with the Astros in his role as an executive advisor to Crane and the Astros.
Up until the change, the first three names on the Astros’ org chart were Jim Crane, Reid Ryan and Nolan Ryan.
The big question is why — and whether the move has anything to do with the controversy involving former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman during the World Series and the Astros’ internal handling of it. Thus far, the Astros’ public statements haven’t connected this front-office change with what happened last month, but the timing is enough to pique curiosity.
Reid Ryan had been the Astros’ president since 2013, during the team’s rise to a contender again and eventual World Series champion in 2017. He wasn’t on the player personnel side, rather business operations. Ryan’s new title will be executive advisor of business relations.
This is what Crane said in a statement:
“I want to personally thank Reid for his contributions over the past seven seasons,” Jim Crane stated. “Reid has been a tremendous help in the business operations, and a great advocate for our fans, employees and partners. We look forward to his continued presence and support as we move forward. I am confident that our executive leadership team will continue to deliver on the great fan experience and customer service we have always been committed to.”
And here’s what Reid Ryan said:
“Jim Crane has been a great owner for the city of Houston, and I thank him for the opportunity to lead the Houston Astros organization,” Ryan said. “Thank you to the many employees, fans, and partners that have supported this team during my tenure as president. Baseball is about bringing joy to people’s lives and I take pride in knowing that we have made so many memories for our fans. While my role has changed, I will remain with the Astros and look forward to another great season in 2020.”
Nolan Ryan, meanwhile, told reporter Mark Berman from Houston’s Fox 26 that he wouldn’t be back with the Astros and would “leave it at that,” a stance that adds fuel to the fire that there could be something more happening that the Astros aren’t discussing.
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan says in a text message he will not continue in his role as an executive advisor to the owner of the #Astros: “I will not be back with the club and will leave it at that.”— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 7, 2019
Crane responded by saying that Nolan Ryan was still welcome to be a part of Astros-related activities.
Owner Jim Crane: “Nolan Ryan’s contract with the Astros as an executive advisor runs through Feb/2020. If Nolan has decided to step down that is his decision. Nolan will always be welcome at Minute Maid Park and at any Astros-related activities.”— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 7, 2019
Were this not the Astros and Texas this might be a different story. Team presidents of Reid Ryan’s ilk don’t always make headlines, but the Ryans and the Astros have been linked for decades — so much so that the Ryans are owners of the Astros’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
Add what happened in October in the Astros front office, and many fans will be left with more questions than answers.
Taubman, the team’s former assistant general manager, was at the center of Houston’s off-the-field controversy during the World Series when a story emerged in which he taunted a reporter about Robert Osuna, the Astros’ closer who had been suspended for domestic violence in 2018.
Taubman was eventually fired, but not before the Astros fumbled their handling of the incident, including a statement that accused Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein of fabricating the story and an initial investigation that wrongly backed Taubman.
There’s nothing official to indicate that these two front-office matters are linked, but right or wrong, that won’t stop people from connecting the dots between the two. And given the past month, this probably won’t be the last we hear of controversy inside the Astros organization between now and opening day 2020.
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