Will Nolan Ryan Save the Astros From Themselves?
Nolan Ryan met with Astros owner Jim Crane, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, and his son, Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan, earlier this week. The parties, looking for a way to bring the Baseball Hall of Famer into the organization, announced the meeting as a success. Ryan, stating he wants to get back into baseball, promised to give the Astros a decision by the start of spring training.
Here comes Nolan to save the day?
I'm a Nolan Ryan fanboy, dating back to my days as a wee youngster and he was tossing no-hitters for the California Angels. I thrilled in his years with the Astros -- one of the first Astros games I ever worked involved Ryan taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Phillies. I was upset when John McMullen let him go -- though I could understand McMullen's thinking -- but still cheered for Ryan with the Rangers though I did get pissed that he tossed two no-hitters and got his 300th win with the Rangers, and I still think it's wrong that Ryan's wearing a Rangers cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
I would like very much for Ryan to return to the Astros. But frankly, from what we've learned over the years, this move makes zero sense. Nolan Ryan is a man who's not really happy just being a community relations figurehead. And it was not long ago that Ryan was a part-owner of the Rangers and the guy calling the shots. So it just seems strange that he'd be willing to take a consulting job where he reports to his son, to Jim Crain, and to Jeff Luhnow.
There was a story out yesterday from Maury Brown on Forbes.com that tries to figure out what's going on. And yes, hiring Ryan would be a PR win for a team that's been awful short of PR wins the past several years. But it also positions Ryan to study the farm system and player development of the Astros along with all of the business operations such that, in a few short years local hero Nolan Ryan is named as President/General Manager of the Astros.
Brown's been spot on with a lot of his Astros analysis the past several years. But I think he's a bit off with this analysis. If Crane is true to his word on how he wants to build the franchise, giving Ryan such power and forcing out Jeff Luhnow makes no sense because Luhnow's approach is supposedly what Crane wants. Of course, it's possible that if the Astros still suck in a couple of years that Crane could replace Luhnow with Ryan, though that would probably result in the club starting totally over with the rebuild (one of the issues in Texas was that Ryan and GM Jon Daniels didn't see eye-to-eye and Luhnow's approach is similar to that of Daniels).