Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane has big aspirations for his club in 2015. He’s looking to make a playoff run, not just get his team to the .500 mark.
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Last season the Astros had added to their payroll bringing it up from $40 million to the $50-60 million range. The team improved from 51-111 in 2013 to 70-92 in 2014. That’s a pretty huge jump.
Will another bump in payroll help the Astros possibly make a playoff run, even in the highly competitive American League West? Crane seems to think so. He is looking to bump up the payroll by another $20 million this winter.
"“We’re going to try to spend it effectively and you know if we need to stretch a little, we’ll stretch a little. If there’s not a good reason to do that, we won’t do that. But you know we’ll continue to move it up.” Crane said. “I think the intent is to go out and fill a few more holes this year. Two or three more. Jeff (Luhnow) is working on that now. Continue to bring, kind of have it meet in the middle, with he farm system and the guys developing quickly. You saw last year we had some good improvement from a lot of players. See a little bit more of that and add some more cornerstones on the team.”"
He could be right. If $20 million got them 20 more wins, it’s not impossible for it to happen again, right? But would 90 wins even be enough?
"“We certainly want to try to make the playoffs. You never know with some of the teams that are making it this year.” said Crane at an Astros charity golf tournament on Monday."
It seems pretty doubtful at this point, however, with the Oakland A’s and Los Angels Angels both be looking at another run for the World Series in 2015 and the Texas Rangers should be healthy, finally, which will make them a threat in the A.L. West.
There is a chance that the three teams from the A.L. West could all make the playoffs like they almost did this year with the A’s, Angels and Seattle Mariners in the chase down the stretch. The Mariners are a threat too.
Aug 19, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Houston Astros designated hitterChris Carter
(23) and second basemanJose Altuve
(27) celebrate Carter
Not to mention the fact that it appears that the Tigers and the Royals will be fighting for spots. And one can never underestimate where the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox might end up if they have a big offseason.
With so much parity in the league the making the playoffs are everyone’s game to win and everyone’s game to lose. Crane said, regarding having a $100 million payroll,
"“Hopefully sooner than later.”"
So you never know. Sure the Astros’ owner has high hopes, but if $20 million got him 20 extra wins? It got him guys like Jose Altuve, the MLB batting champion and Chris Carter, who lost the A.L. home run title by three homers to Nelson Cruz.
Then maybe with a little more spending money he could fix some of the holes in the bullpen, get a few more players to anchor the team and possibly move the Astros into contention.
That’s a place the Astros have never really been except in 2005 when they won the National League Pennant only to get swept by the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.
One day they are bound to be in contention again (the law of averages is always at work) and according to their owner it will be sooner than we might think.