Houston businessman Jim Crane addressed the media for the first time as owner of the Houston Astros. Although the deal won't officially close until next week, Crane is now the man in charge and he says he's ready to start turning the team around.
"We'll sit down with all the executives, a lot of them in the room here. Ask them what they think we're doing right, ask them what they think we're doing wrong, and we'll make some very, very quick adjustments. I think by right after the end of Thanksgiving you'll see us make a few moves."
Turning the Astros into winners won't be easy. They've been at or near the bottom of the league for several years now. In fact, they lost 106 games last season, but Crane says he's got a plan.
"Our goal is to rebuild the minor league system. There's been some moves made between the announcement in May; we'll continue to focus on that. Once we get that solid, I think that will certainly help the big team continue to move forward."
The sale of the team was originally reported to be $680 million dollars. Crane says the price was dropped some when it became apparent the deal hinged on the Astros moving to the American League. Crane felt that deal wasn't worth as much financially. As for fans upset about the switch in leagues, Crane had this to say.
"I've gotten some letters from people who said they wouldn't renew their season tickets. We'll try and reach out to each and everyone one of them and convince them we'll put a good product on the field. We've got a great facility here, one of the best facilities in baseball, and it is fun to go to a baseball game. But we don't want to lose anybody so we'll reach out to those fans who've chosen not to renew."
A major selling point for Crane is the Astros' share in a new deal with the NBA's Houston Rockets to create a regional sports network that will begin airing Rockets games in 2012 and the Astros in 2013. Crane has said the team's 30-year lease at Minute Maid Park, which is owned by the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, will remain intact under his ownership.