Baseball

MLB notess: Astros new owner promises lots of changes

Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum during a news conference after his interviews for the Chicago Cubs manager baseball job opening, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum during a news conference after his interviews for the Chicago Cubs manager baseball job opening, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) AP

The Houston Astros will soon be playing in the American League and new owner Jim Crane is promising many other changes, too.

Baseball owners unanimously approved the long-delayed sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Crane on Thursday, a transaction that requires the team to move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013.

As part of the Astros' agreement to switch leagues, the sale price was cut from $680 million to $615 million, a person at the owners meetings in Milwaukee told The Associated Press. Crane said the reported money totals were "fairly accurate."

Crane, who flew back to Houston from the meetings for a news conference at Minute Maid Park, said the deal will be completed Tuesday.

"We're focused on bringing a winner back to Houston," Crane said. "We've got a lot of plans."

McLane, current general manager Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith did not attend Crane's news conference, and Crane said he will be making staff changes after Thanksgiving.

"Starting Tuesday, when we get in the office, we're going to review everything, not only the baseball operation, but the marketing operation," Crane said.

Crane said rebuilding the minor-league system, which includes the Lexington Legends, is another top priority.

"Once we get that solid, that will certainly help the big team continue to move forward," Crane said.

Kershaw wins NL Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL Cy Young Award in a runaway, getting 27 of 32 first-place votes, five seconds and two thirds for 207 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, last year's winner, was second with four first-place votes and 133 points followed by teammate Cliff Lee with 90 and Arizona's Ian Kennedy with 76.

With a big curveball that might be the best in baseball, Kershaw won the NL's pitching triple crown. Pitching on a team that went 82-79, he led the league with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts and with a 21-5 record tied Kennedy for most wins.

The 23-year-old left-hander, whose previous high for victories was 13 in 2010, dominated the league during the final two months of the season, going 8-0 with a 0.96 ERA in his final nine starts.

His .207 opponents' batting average was the second-lowest in the major leagues among qualified pitchers, trailing only Detroit's Justin Verlander (.192), the AL Cy Young winner. Kershaw was especially effective at Dodger Stadium, where he went 12-1 with the lowest home ERA in the big leagues at 1.69.

Sveum to manage Cubs

The Chicago Cubs announced Dale Sveum as their new manager, hoping the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach can help turn the team around.

Sveum will be introduced at a news conference Friday at Wrigley Field. He replaces Mike Quade, who was fired by Theo Epstein, the team's new president of baseball operations. The Cubs finished 71-91 after a disappointing season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 seasons.

Sveum was Boston's third base coach during part of Epstein's tenure as the general manager of the Red Sox.

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