As expected, former Texas Rangers pitcher/part owner/CEO and team president Nolan Ryan is joining the Houston Astros as a special assistant to the owner. MLB.com and The Houston Chronicle reported the story today.
When the Rangers showed Mr. Ryan the door in late October of '13 over an obvious disagreement on his influence with the club between himself, GM Jon Daniels and owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, it was apparent he did not want to retire from baseball. Equally apparent, Ryan did not want to leave the great state a Texas.
That left the Astros, where his son, Reid, has a top front office job. Team owner Jim Crane was smart enough to recognize the value Nolan's presence brings to a franchise in desperate need of some good news to sell other "Come See the Other Team Kick Our A-- Night".
This is what is going to happen - the Rangers will remain competitive, but won't unseat the Oakland A's atop the American League West. The Astros are fixin' to catch everybody, and Nolan will eventually enjoy a hearty laugh at his former partners' expense.
The Astros, now a member of the AL West, will stink for another year before their No. 2 ranked farm system, according to Baseball America, begins to show itself in the big league level with more big league wins.
This is similar to when Ryan came to the Rangers in 2008. The team had been awful since the start of the century, but its farm system was in order. Ryan walked in, the team began to win, and eventually made consecutive World Series appearances. Now the Rangers are pretty good, but not at the tippy top.
The Astros have not had a winning season since 2008, and posted 100 losses in each of the last three years. That's Royals-ish.
Ryan walks into a team flush with cash - if Crane will spend it - and tons of prospects. Plus, Nolan is not a stupid baseball man. At a minimum, the Rangers/Astros series is a rivalry that will finally have some serious bite.
Laugh if you must but The Curse of Nolan Ryan lives.
BTW - The Astros visit Insurance Made Easy Park on April 11 for a three-game set. Nolan will be there, just not in his old seats.
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