As they try to shift attention to the coming season, the Astros introduced new GM James Click yesterday. He joins new skipper Dusty Baker on a re-formulated leadership team hand-picked by owner Jim Crane to replace fired GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. It’s a move with major implications both for the ’Stros and for the Rays, who lost yet another top executive.
The Houston organization is obviously hoping that Click can hit the ground running after coming over from an analytically driven Rays club. Crane noted that Click should fit right in from that perspective, as Jake Kaplan of The Athletic explains (subscription link).
Kaplan further analyzes the trickier questions surrounding the hire. Click will be stepping out from behind the curtain for the first time. And he’ll be doing so at a time when the Astros are facing intense scrutiny.
From a baseball perspective, Click says he expects “to just continue doing what they’re doing and continue to push it forward.” He spoke of working “to keep a championship-caliber roster on the field for years to come.”
In terms of the internal culture developed by Luhnow — the one blasted by commissioner Rob Manfred and defended by Crane — Click walked a line in his public comments. Click said he’s “focused on the future,” as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports, noting that he’ll “bring a fresh look and keep what’s working.” Though Click says there’s a “positive culture” in Houston, he did note an intention “to continue to make sure that this is an employee-first culture kind of place where people want to work and are involved and engaged.”
For the Rays, it’s hardly an ideal situation. Owner Stuart Sternberg said yesterday that the team can handle the loss, but noted that it’ll hurt — all the more so due with Spring Training right around the corner. He suggested the organization will continue to rely upon its front office intake and development system.
Per Sternberg: “We have great organizational leadership, strong faith in our ability to regenerate, and we have supreme confidence in the men and women who will be stepping up into their newfound opportunities and responsibilities.
The Rays have moved ahead with some internal promotions to account for Click’s departure, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Former MLB hurler Jeremy Sowers and Sammi Bireley will take over the bulk of Click’s portfolio, with recently promoted VP of development Peter Bendix taking charge of the analytics work. (Bendix was one of the execs elevated after the previous departure of Chaim Bloom.)