According to multiple sources and reports in the last 24 hours, Hall of Famer and former Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros have both expressed an interest in exploring a working relationship that would reunite the Texas legend with his son, Reid Ryan, the president of business operations for the Astros.
Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that Astros own Jim Crane said that he was “hoping to talk to Nolan [Ryan] pretty soon” adding “Certainly, we would make room for Nolan,” said Crane.
Nolan’s son, Reid has indicated that he would “love to have my dad work with the Houston Astros,” but said that he would leave it to his father and Crane to work things out.
There are some questions as to what role Nolan Ryan would play in the organization, with his son serving as the team’s president of business operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow running things on the baseball operations side.
Last October Nolan Ryan announced his resignation, as CEO of the Texas Rangers and then sold his ownership stake in the club to co-chairmen of the board Bob Simpson and Ray Davis. It was the lack of a clearly defined role with the Rangers that led to Ryan’s early retirement.
With Ryan at the helm of the Rangers, he oversaw a club that improved dramatically, that seen the team go from competing for third place in the American League West to winning the division in 2010 and ’11 and making the World Series both seasons, becoming one of the best franchises in baseball.
If the traditional, old-school, Ryan joins the Astros organization, you would have to think that he would play a key role in the evaluation and the development of the team’s pitchers. It will be interesting to see how Ryan responds to the Astros strategy and the use of the unconventional tandem “piggyback” starting rotation at all levels of their minor-league system.
I am a huge Jeff Luhnow fan, but I’ve never bought into his use of the piggyback system. If it is such a good idea, why limit the strategy to the minor leagues? I think it is because it would not work in the Major Leagues, where games do count, where roles for pitchers are very important. We can’t assume that any pitcher will pitch just as effective, regardless of the role he plays in the rotation or bullpen, or when he pitches in a game. The tandem system in my opinion, at any other level than the “Rookie” level, actually retards the development of pitchers by putting them in artificial situations that won’t prepare them for the reality of Major League baseball.
Ryan, who played nine of his 27 seasons with the Houston Astros, ended his playing career as a Texas Ranger at the end of the 1993 season, at the age of 46. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, receiving 98.79 percent of the vote.
It will be interesting to see how Nolan Ryan views the tandem rotation and interacts with its architect, Jeff Luhnow, and if they can co-exists, what impact the Ryan Express will have on the unusual strategy and the development of the Astros pitching prospects.