Drayton McLane Jr., owner of the Houston Astros since 1992, was in
attendance Friday when the Braves eliminated the Astros with a 6-2 victory.
McLane took a few moments following the loss at Turner Field to answer a few
questions about his team's future and the status of manager Larry Dierker
with MLB.com's Jim Molony:
|Manager Larry Dierker has guided the Astros to four division crowns, but Houston has not won a playoff series during that run.
Molony: What are your emotions right now after this obviously difficult playoff
McLane: "Well it's very draining. You know we had a great season, a
tremendous comeback from last year and we won those 93 games and had the best
record in the National League and I thought that lining up with the Braves
that this would be the playoff that we were looking for. Baseball is more
complicated than I ever thought it would be. This is the ninth year that I
have been involved with the Houston Astros and we can get to this level and
we don't move past it so we're just going to have to determine what it's
going to take to move farther in the playoffs. My biggest regret is for the
fans of the Houston Astros, which are in the Houston area, all over Texas,
Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, that we've gotten so close, we've given
them a lot of excitement, but we just need to continue to move forward in the
playoffs. I'm really disappointed for the fans."
Molony: Everyone knows you don't make snap decisions, you think things through.
But what are your early thoughts right now, the speculation has been so
intense, what are your early thoughts about your manager, as far as what you
think may happen there or may not happen there?
McLane: "We really haven't even begun to focus on this. You know I learned a
long time ago in life, particularly in business, and I've been in business 42
years, you never make hasty decisions, you don't make decisions when you have
a lot of emotions and we have had a lot of emotions, particularly the last
week of the season. We went up to St. Louis and we needed to win and we won
and we were very elated at that point and then the disappointment that we had
here in this series with the Atlanta Braves. So (GM) Gerry (Hunsicker) and
(President) Tal (Smith) and (Director) Bob (McClaren) and all of us will get
together, so it will be several days.
Molony: Will you consult some of your players?
McLane: "I talk to everybody. Everybody can give me advice, fans give me
advice and my family certainly gives me a lot of advice, so everyone I walk
by I'll certainly try to take in what they say. So we'll listen to everyone,
Molony: How much will you take into account the biggest turnaround in franchise
history from last year, the fact that (Larry Dierker) is the first manager in
history to win four titles in his first five years, how much does that impact
what you're doing vs. the fact that you haven't been able to go to the next
McLane: "All of that is very important. All of us, whether individually or a
business or a team like the Houston Astros, we're a product of our past. So
we're certainly wanting to consider what's been accomplished in the last five
years and the nine years we've been here, and try to determine what are the
obstacles that have kept us from going forward, so we'll consider all of
that. Our past and what has been accomplished, with not only our manager, but
our coaches and our players, is going to be a powerful part of how we begin to
analyze the way we're going to move forward.
Molony: When you get together with Gerry and Tal and the rest of the group will
that take place after the World Series?
McLane: "Most likely it will. You know we've got a lot of emotion right now
and then baseball is certainly, and we're all interested in who wins the LCS
and then goes to the World Series. And then as you know baseball has a
moratorium once the World Series starts, no major announcements can be made.
We just think it will be after the World Series and into November before we
make any really major decisions.
Molony: How much accountability do your players have to take?
McLane: "The players got to play the game. That's just like in business, the
stockholders can provide the money, but the management has to make the
decisions and go out and execute and make the business successful and in the
same way the ownership and general manager can make the players available for
the manager and then the manager certainly makes a lot of decisions.
Ultimately the players have to execute, that's the No. 1 thing that needs to
Molony: Dierker said two things I'd like to get your reaction to. One, he said
there will be those who blame him if this team is three and out and the
manager didn't get it done and he feels that's that not fair.
McLane: "I think that can be too much pressure on the manager. Everyone is
accountable. I'm accountable as the owner of the team, Tal Smith and Gerry
Hunsicker can hold some accountability because we make a lot of decisions
that determine the composition of the team, and so we have accountability,
the manager has some accountability and the players have a lot of
accountability. And if you'll notice and look back five years ago to the
first team in 1997 that made the playoffs we've changed the team. Outside of
maybe three or four players this is a totally different team than it was in the
'97 or the '98 playoff. We have to change the composition of the team as we
go on. It's like life, it's not one incident that changes our lives, it's a
series of incidents. Finding the winning combination is the environment, I've
talked to the players every day for nine years about being a champion and
getting a positive mental attitude is certainly an important role and a
responsibility that I have. Gerry and Tal, and (assistant GM) Tim Purpura
that know the technical parts, they know the players, and then the manager
plays a key role. So it's a little bit of everything."
Molony: The other thing Dierker was asked if you came to him and told him you had
decided to make a change and how would he feel about that, he said "in some
ways there might be some semblance of relief from the burden he had to carry
all last summer and now that the speculation is on (his job security), it
that were to happen it might be some sense of relief. What are your thoughts
McLane: "That's the art of leadership, whether you're a political leader or
in the military, it's just like our President George Bush, you know he's got
huge leadership responsibilities now and there's a lot of pressure there. And
I don't think I can remove it, nor can he remove it. Or any other manager.
Bobby Cox can't remove it. That goes with the position, to be responsible and
to move forward. But we had major accomplishments this year over where the
team was last year.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com.