Astros president Postolos resigns

The Houston Astros announced Monday that their president and CEO, George Postolos, resigned from his position with the team. Postolos later told in a telephone interview, “It’s a good time for me to step away because it’s a stable situation.”

In professional sports, partings never are quite that simple. There are multiple reasons Postolos stepped down, and not all of them were his own.

The overriding circumstance was that Postolos’ skill set and job description no longer formed an ideal match. Postolos, who specializes in franchise acquisition, said he had worked with Astros owner Jim Crane for seven years — the vast majority of that time coming while Crane was trying to purchase a major league franchise, not operate one.

Marcel Braithwaite, the Astros’ vice president and general manager of building operations, is viewed as one possible successor to Postolos, sources say. Braithwaite previously worked with Crane in other business ventures.

Postolos had been the franchise’s president and CEO since November 2011, when Major League Baseball approved Crane as control person of the Astros’ new ownership group. The front office has undergone a dramatic overhaul since then, with one source saying the churn rate in some departments has been as high as 80 percent.

The widespread changes haven’t helped the organizational culture, sources say. Postolos’ effectiveness was further limited by the fact that he lacked an extensive baseball background. He’s more experienced in the NBA and worked as an executive with the Houston Rockets.

During Postolos’ tenure with the club, fans have voiced their displeasure with TV carriage issues, poor wattage on the flagship radio station, and dynamic ticket pricing (i.e., higher for premium games) during a season in which the Astros have baseball’s worst record.

Astros games are shown on Comcast SportsNet Houston, which is available in only about 40 percent of homes in the Houston market. Comcast cable subscribers can watch the games, but not viewers who have Dish Network, DirecTV and AT&T U-verse because of an ongoing dispute over carriage fees.

Postolos was intimately involved in the carriage agreement negotiations. The lack of an agreement has resulted in lost revenue for Crane, since the Astros have the largest ownership share in CSN Houston. Postolos’ resignation could be a sign of Crane’s frustration at the state of the television talks and diminished attendance.

When asked if Crane asked him to resign, Postolos did not answer directly. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had by working with Jim,” he said. “I have tremendous respect for what he’s accomplished — and what he’s going to accomplish. I won’t be here as president and CEO, but I’m still a huge fan of the team.”

Postolos also said: “I have no doubt that Jim is going to bring a World Series championship to Houston and do it with the people we have in place now. This is a first-rate organization, and it’s moving in the right direction.”

Postolos said he will resume working for his sports consultancy practice, the Postolos Group.

“I like the transactional part of it — coming up with a plan to acquire the franchise and implementing the phases,” he said. “We’re 18 months into that process. We’ve taken it from a concept on paper and through that first phase of implementation.

“I like all the pieces to it. I enjoy operations. I really like working at situations within an organization, looking at things we could do to reposition it. But helping to make someone an owner is pretty special and not an easy thing to do. That’s something I’ve enjoyed doing.”