While Astros players hacked away with practice swings and loosened stiff arms Saturday morning at Osceola County Stadium, owner Jim Crane’s focus was temporarily on the golf course.
Crane entered the third round of the 2013 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tied for second place, pairing with Kevin Streelman to shoot 17 under.
“We’re doing all right,” said Crane, before heading out to the course along the central California coast. “Hopefully we’ll make the cut. I’ve never made the cut.”
The two finished Saturday tied for 10th with a 20-under-par 194. But the Astros weren’t far from Crane’s mind, with the team opening spring training Monday. With about 15 Astros going through informal workouts Saturday, the second-year owner discussed the state of his rebuilding team, whose estimated $25 million opening-day payroll is expected to be the lowest in the majors by about $20 million.
Like general manager Jeff Luhnow and first-year manager Bo Porter, Crane has positive expectations. He believes the Astros will be better than the 2012 club that lost a franchise-record 107 games. And he’s willing to spend money midway through 2013 if the Astros defy critics and are competitive in a strong American League West Division.
“Certainly we’re sticking with the plan and we’re bringing in a lot of young talent and holding off on free agency until we’ve got a good nucleus there,” said Crane, who believes the team’s strength this season could be its starting pitching. “People aren’t going to go with this plan forever. We’ve got to build this year, and hopefully next year will be a little better and the year following.”
Crane remains positive Astros are on target
Houston Chronicle | Feb 10