HOUSTON -- Astros legend and baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, who has become one of owner Jim Crane’s most trusted advisors, has added a new title to reflect his role in the organization. Bagwell has been named the club’s senior advisor to ownership and baseball operations.
Bagwell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017 following an illustrious 15-year career with the Astros, said on Sunday that not much will change in terms of his responsibilities with the club, which have grown in importance in the last year. The 54-year-old has been involved in baseball operations at the highest level and will continue to do so, but it’s no secret his voice carries weight within the front office.
“All I’m trying to do is help the organization be the best it could possibly be, so there’s no such thing as a window [of contention] here and we just continue to maintain winning,” Bagwell said. “Part of that is the big league stuff, making sure we get the right players that fit our organization and what we do -- great pitching, great defense and we don’t strike out. Taking that and bringing it all the way down to the Minor League system.”
Reggie Jackson, the Hall of Fame slugger who’s a special advisor to Crane, said Bagwell’s new title is “very deserving.”
“I always respect him from a distance,” Jackson said. “He could hit. He hit home runs and drove in runs, so he was productive. Of course, when you’re a Hall of Famer you understand the road a guy’s traveled so it’s very easy to respect that person. He’s been through some valleys, but has come out of those, and he’s a special baseball guy.”
The former first baseman spent six weeks at Spring Training trying to get to know every player in the organization, including the Minor Leaguers. During the regular season, he plans to travel to the Minor League affiliates, as well as attend home games at Minute Maid Park. Bagwell said the Minor League system is the “heartbeat” of the organization.
“For me to be down there with them day in and day out, to get a relationship with them where they could talk to me as as a player and a friend who went through a lot of the same struggles they went through, it gives them the feeling of, ‘Oh, you felt like that?’” Bagwell said. “I say, ‘Yeah, actually I did. I get it. And this is how I tried to get out of it.’ Just to get that relationship with them and get them going in the right direction, so at some point they can help us.”
Bagwell has been a sounding board for Crane and new general manager Dana Brown in what has been a collaborative approach in baseball operations since James Click’s contract wasn’t renewed shortly after the end of the World Series. Bagwell said everyone is usually on the same page, but the former slugger isn’t afraid to share his opinion.
“All we’re trying to do is find the best way for us to win and how we can maintain this for years to come,” Bagwell said. “The fans deserve it. We have made this city such a big Astros town. You can see it when you’re driving in and see it when you’re at restaurants and all that. I don’t want that to end. If we do it the right way, spend smart money and develop our players, we can continue to win here.”
When asked if he has an office at Union Station, Bagwell laughed.
“Yeah, a makeshift one,” he said. “I’ll be in there, but I’m not saying it’s going be 9 to 5. I’ll be in to get my stuff done and get back here to [Minute Maid Park] and watch these guys play at home.”