Houston Astros president Postolos resigns

DETROIT (AP) — George Postolos is leaving the
Houston Astros, despite what he insists are better days ahead for the
struggling team.

“I know it’s going to be
successful,” he said. “That’s tough to step away from
that.”

Postolos resigned as president and CEO of the
Astros on Monday, returning to sports consulting work in the midst of
what looks like it could be the team’s third consecutive season of at
least 100 losses. Postolos worked for seven years with Houston
businessman Jim Crane to buy a sports franchise and it wound up being
the Astros. He had been Astros president and CEO since November
2011.

“I am very proud of what Jim accomplished with
my help — acquiring a major league franchise with a strong and diverse
ownership group, developing and implementing a good plan for the team’s
future, and assembling a first-rate management team,” Postolos said in a
statement. “I look forward to helping other investors pursue their
objectives in sports knowing that Jim and the Astros’ organization are
off to a great start and well positioned for future
success.”

In a brief telephone interview with The
Associated Press, he said the decision to leave was
his.

“It’s one of those things, where there’s no
perfect time to leave,” he said. “But it’s a good time because a lot of
the key pieces are in place.”

The successes have been
rare of late for Houston. The Astros entered Monday night’s game in
Detroit at 10-28, the worst record in the major leagues, and Houston
batters had struck out a big league-high 381
times.

The Astros lost 107 games last year and 106 in
2011. Houston is trying to avoid becoming the first team since the
expansion New York Mets in the 1960s to lose 106 or more games in three
straight seasons. The Astros are making the transition from the National
League to the AL West, one of the toughest divisions in
baseball.

Houston’s attendance plummeted to an
NL-worst 1.6 million last season, and the lack of major moves didn’t
create much preseason buzz.

Houston’s opening-day
payroll was a big league-low $27.2 million, including $21.6 million for
active players and those on the disabled list. Alex Rodriguez will make
more than that this year ($29 million) all by himself, according to a
study of major league contracts by The Associated
Press.

The Astros reached the World Series for the
first time in franchise history not long ago, in 2005, but it was late
in the careers of stars like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. With
management rebuilding with youth and a new manager in Bo Porter, there
will be no quick fixes.

Even for a team in
transition, the timing of Postolos’ departure caught Porter off
guard.

“I was shocked, just because I found out the
same time everybody else found out,” Porter said. “I got to the
ballpark, and the information was dropped on me. Obviously it’s
completely out of my jurisdiction. I don’t even know what happened and
what led to his resignation.”

Postolos will be
returning to his consulting practice advising investors on acquisitions
and strategy in major league sports.

“I look at the
sports-acquisition marketplace. It’s very robust,” Postolos said. “For
someone like me, who has experience in that marketplace, it’s an
interesting time.”

The team credited him with leading
several changes within the organization, including an overall
rebranding of the team with new uniforms, colors and logos, and tweaks
to the marketing and foundation departments.

He also
emphasized the importance of engaging with fans.

“We
appreciate George’s hard work in the acquisition of the Astros and his
commitment to the organization,” Crane said. “I’d also like to
personally thank him for the assistance that he has provided to me over
the last several years and wish him the best of luck.”