Source: Former Rangers bidder in on the Astros bid

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CORRECTION: While one of the parties to the bid was, indeed, unsuccessful in the first round of the bidding, I was mistaken in assuming that it had to be either Crane of Gilbert. The first round of bidding was actually a letter-bid submission round from last September, which included as many as six interested parties.  The Crane-Gilbert-Greenberg round, while referred to as the preliminary round in most media reports, was really the second round.  Upshot: the guy who lost out on the Rangers but is now in on the Astros doesn’t have to be either Gilbert or Crane. Could be any of six folks, actually.

7:45 A.M.: As was reported last night, Drayton McLane has signed a working letter of intent to enter into negotiations to sell the Astros. The group of prospective buyers is reported to be a mix of local and out-of-town investors.  This morning’s Houston Chronicle identifies part of that group: former United States Olympic Committee chief and former president of the International Baseball Federation, Harvey Schiller. The other is an unidentified New York investment banker.

As for other parties to the bid?  A source tells me that one of the is one of the bidders who didn’t make the second round of the Texas Rangers sale. As has been widely reported, Houston businessman Jim Crane was in that group. The same Crane who was reported to have “had a handshake deal” to buy the Astros in the past.  Given that Schiller and the investment banker are New Yorkers, it’s possible that Crane represents the “local interests” mentioned in last night’s report.  The other Rangers bidder was former agent Dennis Gilbert.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Crane is involved with the Schiller-investment banker people, simply due to the fact that he almost bought the team in the past. For now, however, the process is reported to be in the earliest stages, and McClane may decide that he doesn’t want to sell.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.

The Mets are doing something really weird with Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey

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Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that the Mets are going to give Noah Syndergaard the start for tomorrow’s game. But here’s the hitch: he’ll only get one inning and then Matt Harvey will enter in the second inning and go from there. Harvey was originally scheduled to take the start. Syndergaard, of course, has been out since April. Harvey has been pitching under the loosest definition of the term.

I can see, if they are intent on putting Syndergaard in a real game, having him start one rather than come in out of the bullpen for purposes of preparation and routine. At the same time, however, if he’s only able to throw one inning at this point, with a little over a week left in the season, what’s the point of him pitching at all? As for Harvey relieving: he’s kind of a mess right now. Is he someone whose routine you really want to throw off?

I guess this doesn’t hurt anything — at least as long as Syndergaard doesn’t hurt himself throwing in a meaningless game at the end of the season — but it certainly is odd. It makes me wonder if this is some sort of “Dave” or “Moon Over Parador” situation in which the Mets are just trying to create the impression that Syndergaard is still alive.

Could Kevin Klein pitch an inning? Richard Dreyfuss?