Nolan Ryan could be reuniting with the Houston Astros

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Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reports that there’s mutual interest between Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros in having Ryan return to the Astros in some executive capacity or another.

What that role would be is unclear, and the sides have not even discussed the matter yet. But Berman quotes Ryan as being amenable to coming back to Houston, where his son Reid is president of business operations. Astros owner Jim Crane likewise says that he would like to bring Nolan Ryan back if he could. He said he’s hoping to talk to Ryan soon.

One interesting comment from Crane involves seeing how a pairing would work “with the business-side and the baseball-side.” While it’s hard to tell exactly what led to Ryan leaving the Rangers, there were frequent reports in recent years that it involved clashes with Jon Daniels’ people on the baseball side of things. Speculation existed — and was often colorfully vented — that Daniels’ sabermetrcially-oriented team clashed with an older school Ryan.

If there is any truth to that dynamic — and again, it could just be some journalists’ axe-grinding with Daniels — it would be hard to see how Ryan would fit on the baseball operations side of things in Houston, as Jeff Luhnow has assembled a young and analytic-heavy baseball operations team of his own. Of course, given that Reid Ryan is on the business side, it would make sense that Nolan Ryan would be on that side of things as well, working with or for his son.

Please trade Manny Machado already, will ya?

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Manny Machado has been on the trading block for some time now, and he’s obviously a highly sought-after player who will command a nice haul for the Orioles if and when they deal him. Until they do that, however, let us talk for a moment about how to read a given trade rumor that gets tweeted or reported out into the ether.

Let’s look at the latest one, shall we? It goes like this:

At the outset, let me be clear about something: I do not doubt this reporting. Heyman is well-sourced, and I’m sure he’s hearing this exact thing. But so too are other reporters reporting other things, such as a rumor that floated around yesterday that the Phillies were in the lead. And so too are the guys who, several days ago, reported that a Machado trade was “on the 10 yard line.” Yesterday some random person on Twitter, claiming they had inside info, reached out to me to tell me that the O’s and the Phillies had a “handshake deal” in place (which sounded totally bogus, BTW). It’s all so imminent and urgent-sounding.

It’s urgent-sounding not because fast-paced and urgent activity is happening. Some GMs are texting one another, just like they always do. Some are making offers and waiting to hear from the Orioles, some are getting counters from the Orioles and are considering them. The GMs of two teams competing for Machado are not, themselves, in communication. In that respect it is decidedly not like a horse race or a football game.

The Orioles want it to be one, though, and make no mistake, that’s where these rumors are coming from.

The Orioles have a vested interest in the Dodgers, Brewers and Phillies upping their bids to beat out the other suitors, and it’s hard not to see all of these reports as stuff the Orioles are telling reporters in order to get the other clubs to think they’re going to miss out. It’s the Orioles and the Orioles alone who have a vested interest in this appearing more like a horse race — or a football game — and thus are cultivating horse race coverage. Whether it’s coordinated or whether it’s just random people in Baltimore telling what they know to reporters I have no idea, but that’s what this is.

That’s interesting to me as a media guy, and I guess it’s interesting to fans of the teams involved, but it’s probably good to remember that it’s less baseball news, proper, than it is a team using the media to get leverage.