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Beyond the Boxscore

Reid Ryan a better pick than Nolan Ryan for Astros, but Luhnow still ultimately controls franchise's fate

Reid Ryan
Reid Ryan gets the fancy new title with the Houston Astros. But Nolan Ryan's son will not have the impact that general manager Jeff Luhnow does. Courtesy of Austin Downtown Founders
Jim Crane opening pitch
Jim Crane has hardly lost his grip on the Houston Astros. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Jeff Luhnow, Gina Luhnow Astros Wives
General manager Jeff Luhnow will still determine the Houston Astros' ultimate fate. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Bo Porter first game
It's up to Jeff Luhnow to get Bo Porter stars to work with. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Jose Altuve run
Jose Altuve cannot be the only good Astro for much longer. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Reid Ryan
Jim Crane opening pitch
Nolan Ryan frown
Jeff Luhnow, Gina Luhnow Astros Wives
Bo Porter first game
Jose Altuve run
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Reid Ryan isn't his father. He's not a baseball legend who can do no wrong in Houston. He's not a cowboy riding in on a white horse to save the day.

But he's actually the better choice for the Houston Astros.

Jim Crane would have loved to have Nolan as the Astros new president, but Reid Ryan's more likely to make a difference on the business side of things. He's a driven 41-year-old with plenty to prove in the big leagues, someone with unique ideas on how to sell baseball when it's anything but a natural sale. Nolan Ryan's never shown a huge interest in that. Nolan wants to be on the actual baseball decisions. 

And his track record, his amazing personal Major League success, says he probably deserves that type of role.

 It is still Luhnow's plan, his talent evaluating and decisions that will ultimately drive the Astros to rebirth or ruin. 

It's not a role that is available in Houston though. For all the "shock" over George Postolos getting nudged out of the president's chair and for all the praising of Ryan — much of it from people who held grudges against Postolos almost from the beginning — not much at all has truly changed with the Astros.

The franchise's future is still being determined by general manager Jeff Luhnow. It is still Luhnow's plan, his talent evaluating and decisions that will ultimately drive the Astros to rebirth or ruin. Luhnow and Crane himself are still the two most important people in the organization. Just like they were when Postolos was around.

This idea that Astros fans would be a more content, happy bunch if Postolos had been gentler with Larry Dierker or kept Jim Deshaies in the broadcast booth is laughable. So is the notion that Crane wasn't already a very involved owner. Postolos made plenty of mistakes, but not being able to sell these Astros doesn't make you a modern day Willy Loman.

Reid Ryan is sure to come in with some innovative strategies — he's the guy who put together the idea of playing baseball in the Alamodome, after all. His 1 p.m. Friday introductory press conference at Minute Maid is guaranteed to be feel good and high energy. But unless Crane lets the Round Rock Express whiz drop the Astros' ticket prices to minor league baseball levels, expecting any type of significant increase in attendance this season now that a Ryan is at Minute Maid Park is beyond naive.

The True Scoreboard

The Astros aren't reeling because Postolos butchered things. They're reeling because they are a 11-30 baseball team, mired in the low point of a complete nuclear rebuild.

Unless Ryan convinces Crane to completely shift focus and stop working Luhnow's plan, nothing of ultimate significance is changing with the Astros. And it shouldn't change. Luhnow's vision gives the franchise the best, real shot at building something special.

 No job really is too small with this guy. He truly is more fit for this type of role with the Astros than even Nolan Ryan. 

The Astros success or failure is not going to be determined by current players like Lucas Harrell. Or even current appointments with name value like Reid Ryan.

It's all about how high-level prospects like Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. — that bonus first rounder — develop. The biggest day for the Astros this season is still guaranteed to be June 6, the first day of the Major League Baseball Draft, no matter what Reid Ryan does.

It's not a reality that lends itself to selling tickets today — or stoking a clamor to get your new TV network carried in most of Houston. But it's the only real path open to the Astros now. There are small rewards. Watching McCullers throw his first bullpen session in Minute Maid Park last season was more dramatic than I ever imagined such a thing could be. These are the moments that most hold Luhnow and Crane through.

They cannot flinch now.

If Harrell cannot handle the Astros' analytical, stats-driven approach to defensive shifts, he should be shipped out of town. As soon as possible. The Astros must embrace new methods with an unmatched fervor. There is no going half in, no backing down now.

Sure, Reid Ryan is a personable guy. He'll certainly connect with fans as much as he can. Nolan Ryan was never one to put on airs (you call his house and his wife Ruth will take the message herself polite as can be). And Reid's shown plenty of that same touch in the minor leagues. When a fan tweets him annoyed because he felt a wave was ended prematurely by an usher, Reid Ryan tweets back and vows to look into it.

No job really is too small with this guy. He truly is more fit for this type of role with the Astros than even Nolan Ryan.

But Reid Ryan cannot change the Astros trajectory. The future is still on Crane and Luhnow. Just like it always has been.

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