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Astros, Nolan Ryan part ways

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Mark Berman of Fox 26 reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan has stepped down from his role as an executive advisor with the Astros. Ryan said, “I will not be back with the club and will leave it at that.”

Nolan’s son Reid had been the president of business operations with the Astros, but he has stepped down and moved into an executive advisor role, Berman reports. In a statement, Ryan said, “Jim Crane has been a great owner for the city of Houston, and I think him for the opportunity to lead the Houston Astros organization. Thank you to the many employees, fans, and partners that have supported this team during my tenure as president. Baseball is about bringing joy to people’s lives and I take pride in knowing that we have made so many memories for our fans. While my role has changed, I will remain with the Astros and look forward to another great season in 2020.”

Jim Crane’s son Jared will join the front office, per Berman. Jared will assist the front office “in a broad variety of functions related to the operations,” according to Berman.

That Nolan is out and Reid was effectively demoted certainly comes as a surprise. One wonders if the Brandon Taubman controversy — or the myriad other controversies the organization has caused in recent years — had anything to do with it.

Nolan owns Triple-A Round Rock. Round Rock became an affiliate of the Astros again last year after eight years as the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggests, Nolan’s ouster may force the Astros to find a new Triple-A team when its contract is up.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).