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Tal Smith got two weeks’ severance pay after 35 years with the Astros

Dec 1, 2011, 1:48 PM EDT

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When the Astros fired Tal Smith last week after 35 years in the organization the longtime team president was upset with how the situation unfolded, saying he learned the news through the media and hadn’t spoken to new owner Jim Crane in months.

Ken Rosenthal of has a few more details about Smith’s firing, including the fact that the 78-year-old “will receive only two weeks’ severance pay from the club … because the Astros’ previous owner, Drayton McLane, did not arrange a more enticing golden parachute.”

Rosenthal reports that Smith’s contract actually expired on October 31, but he continued working as an at-will employee until being fired six days after the ownership transfer became official. Meanwhile, general manager Ed Wade was let go with two guaranteed seasons remaining on his contract.

  1. cur68 - Dec 1, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    And so, with the sound of hatchet chops, the Jim Crane era in Texas begins…

    • JBerardi - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      I mean… he’s an at-will employee and the new owner doesn’t want him working there anymore. I’m surprised he got the two weeks.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Dec 2, 2011 at 7:33 AM

        Look at how the Astros have done over the last 35 years – he’s lucky he didn’t get jail time (or at least community service.)

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 2, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        It’s still disrespectful I think, Berardi. The dude had been there since the12th season they were even caleld the Astros and not the Colt .45’s; that’s a long time. You have to pay your respects, I believe, to senior long-tenured employees, and not just in MLB. That’s just ethical business practice in my book.

        And the fact that the man had to read about it? I mean, how would you feel? Crane’s already coming off as a horse’s ass.

  2. thekingdave - Dec 1, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    It all balances out, he’d been stealing from the Astros for some time. If he’s still not satisfied, sell Tal’s Hill to a putt putt golf course and mail him the proceeds.

    • Kyle - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      Nailed it.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 1, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Silly question but since Smith was not under contract and he served as an at-will employee shouldn’t he have been smart enough to work out a severance package with the previous owner. He had to realize he was going to be fired once the Astros sale went through.

  4. birdsnblues - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    If he could throw 96 he’d still have a job

    • JBerardi - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        It’s better in Yiddish:

        : If… if. Ven die bubbah halla tsehen qulishkes, het gehaya zadeh.

  5. tcostant - Dec 1, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Reminds me when Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry.

    • paperlions - Dec 1, 2011 at 4:25 PM

      Tal = Landry? Seriously?

      This is closer to a team firing long-time club house attendant.

  6. stex52 - Dec 1, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    It’s always tough when a guy has been with an organization as long as he has. He did a lot of good things. But he had never even talked to the owner, and he knew a new CEO was going to be appointed. What did he need for warning?

    When I got to 35 years in my job and the signs turned negative, I found a new job and retired on my own terms. Tal should have been out looking himself.

    Severance packages are not and should never be a guaranty unless you have negotiated them in advance.

    At least we will always have Tal’s hill to remember. :-)

  7. xpensivewinos - Dec 1, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Hate to be too cynical, but he’s been in a position of tremendous authority for 35 years and what is the Astros’ body of work over that time? Many would argue they’ve been overpaying him quite a bit for the past 35 years and he can consider that his severance.

    • stex52 - Dec 1, 2011 at 3:46 PM

      Well-respected organizations with winning records in the 80’s; pretty much through the 90’s and into the first half of this decade. Not so much since.

      But 35 years of employment is a pretty good severance cushion in itself.

  8. mojosmagic - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Tal deserved better and that is a bad Karma start. Ed Wade as usual comes out smelling like a rose. In 4 short years he decimated a team 2 year removed a World Series when he got the job. Trade all the stars and gets back C level prospects.

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