The Houston Astros' new owner, Jim Crane, has launched a breathtaking house cleaning.  Crane's makeover of the worst team in the major leagues started at the top, with the firings of team president Tal Smith and General Manager Ed Wade, and Crane says he's just getting started.


Crane, who completed his purchase of the team from Drayton McLane last Tuesday, has expressed a desire to build the team through the draft and the minor-league system.

An attempt to purchase the Texas Rangers last year gave Crane considerable insight into that organization’s inner workings under team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels.

Crane has in fact pointed to the Rangers as a model for how he’d like to operate, especially the Rangers' farm system.

Team CEO George Postolos says “Our goal is to consistently compete for a championship, and we know the first step towards that goal is to develop one of the top farm systems in baseball.”

How the departures of Smith and Wade will affect other key Astros operatives is unclear.  Manager Brad Mills is under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013.

It's also probable that some Astros players won't be back next year.  One way to look at this is when you're down and out at the bottom, as the Astros are, there's no way to go but up.

Make no mistake, for the Astros and their fans, there's a new sheriff in town.

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