Drayton McLane, Jim Crane

Astros’ potential move to American League playing a role in Jim Crane’s approval status

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We’ve heard multiple theories as to why exactly Houston businessman Jim Crane has not been approved as the new owner of the Astros.

Forbes magazine called him “controversial,” he had an ugly divorce back in 2000, his businesses have been taken to court 130 times over the past 15 years. Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball has more.

But what’s the real issue? Why hasn’t the sale gone through? And will it ever go through?

According to Mark Berman, sports director for FOX 26 in Houston, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has asked Crane to move the Astros to the American League when (or if) he is named the owner of the team. Crane has not yet committed to doing that, and his hesitance may be holding up MLB’s approval of the $680 million sale agreement that was worked out nearly four months ago with former owner Drayton McLane.

Selig is hoping to even up baseball’s leagues at 15 teams apiece so that a system that allows four Wild Card spots can be put in place. The Astros would be sent to the American League West to create a “Texas rivalry” with the Rangers, and to shake up baseball’s two uneven divisions (the NL Central currently has six teams and the AL West has four). It’s a serious money-generating move, and it could be put into place this offseason.

If Crane doesn’t get on board, Selig and baseball’s 29 current owners might continue to make things difficult.

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
Don Feria/Getty Images
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.