Report on Astros front office culture: “Toxic. Eats you alive”

Craig Calcaterra

Evan Drellich of The Athletic spent several years covering the Astros. In the wake of this week’s news arising out of Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman’s acts, his firing, and the club’s continuing incompetent handling of it all, Drellich spoke to some current and former Astros employees about what things are like inside that organization. Today he has a story about it.

The story is behind The Athletic’s paywall, but the upshot for those who can’t read it is pretty straightforward. The Astros, under owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow, have instilled a toxic culture in which pushing the boundaries to assemble a competitive baseball team has, inevitably, led to a pushing of boundaries in other areas as well. Drellich’s sources say that “Astros management is [capable] of bulldozing people and decency” and that, in Houston, “up was down.”

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Drellich writes of a team atmosphere in which front office staff pay is kept low and advancement is more difficult than in other organizations. Management, he is told, is based on fear. Communication is poor and there has, not surprisingly, been heavy turnover. It’s a “the bottom-line is all that matters” organization in ways that other baseball teams are not, in large part influenced by the cutthroat business and financial world from which the team’s owner, general manager and senior executives like Taubman were drawn.

Toxic. Eats you alive,” said one of more than 10 former current and former Astros employees The Athletic spoke to this week about the Astros Way. “Cutthroat. Secretive. Not fun.”

And, because of the events of this past week, that’s all now coming into the open.

I don’t work for The Athletic and don’t get a thing if you subscribe to them, but this is the sort of story all baseball fans should read if they want to know about the nature of the teams they root for. To understand the values of institutions into which we place so much of our energy and emotion.

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