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Attention, Mark Cuban: Houston Astros reportedly up for sale

Big League Stew

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Major League Baseball didn't let him get near the Chicago Cubs.

Nolan Ryan outmuscled him for the Texas Rangers.

The guy who owns his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates apparently won't let them go.

Now, a report out of Texas says the Houston Astros are for sale.

Oh, Mark Cuban!?

From My Fox 26 in Houston:

Major League Baseball sources told FOX 26 Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, Jr. has retained Allen & Co., an investment-banking firm in New York City, to help him sell his franchise.

MLB sources told FOX 26 Allen & Co. will attempt to sell the Astros franchise for $800 million.

So all the rambunctious internet billionaire/Dallas Mavericks owner needs to do is pay $800 million and he'll finally own a baseball team? No problem, he'll just write you a check.

Wait a second, here. McLane wants how much? As a frame of reference, the Cubs (plus a cable channel) went for $845 million. Nolan and Co. paid $593 million at an auction for the Rangers.

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McLane (holding the keys on the right) paid $117 million for the 'Stros in 1993. Forbes says the Astros are worth $453 million today. Let's see here. ... That makes $347 million profit. Not too egregious.

Before he bought the Astros, they made the playoffs only three times in 31 seasons. With McLane: Six times in 18 seasons. By that, he's been a good owner. But so good that someone would pay $800 million for the team? Um, the Great Recession's over, right?

McLane has tried to see sell the Astros before. Earlier this year, in fact, some New York types kicked the tires on the former franchise of Biggio, Bagwell and Berkman.

And there was the time in 2008 when he almost accepted an offer. Note that Cuban's partner in the failed attempt to get the Rangers — Jim Crane — also made McLane the '08 offer.

Is the third time a charm? Well, the state of the franchise isn't what it was five years ago, when it went to the World Series. The Killer B's are long gone, though Carlos Lee(notes) is still around for two more seasons. All he kills is payroll.

The 'Stros had a $92-million payroll in '09 and finished with 76 victories. With general manager Ed Wade (in the cap and shades, next to Drayton) adding Clint Barmes(notes) via trade on Thursday, the Astros don't seem to be on the verge of a big push in the NL Central. But Wade's always on the lookout for former Phillies. If he could just collect the right ones...

So, that's the state of the Astros right now. Not too good and about as pricey as the Cubs. This media gentleman says Cuban doesn't want the Astros. But if he wants a baseball team — one in Texas, no less — this seems like the organization.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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