DETROIT (AP) - George Postolos is leaving the Houston Astros, despite what he insists are better days ahead for the struggling team.
``I know it's going to be successful,'' he said. ``That's tough to step away from that.''
Postolos resigned as president and CEO of the Astros on Monday, returning to sports consulting work in the midst of what looks as though it could be the team's third consecutive season of at least 100 losses. Postolos worked for seven years with Houston businessman Jim Crane to buy a sports franchise and it wound up being the Astros. He had been Astros president and CEO since November 2011.
``I am very proud of what Jim accomplished with my help - acquiring a major league franchise with a strong and diverse ownership group, developing and implementing a good plan for the team's future, and assembling a first-rate management team,'' Postolos said in a statement. ``I look forward to helping other investors pursue their objectives in sports knowing that Jim and the Astros' organization are off to a great start and well positioned for future success.''
In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press, he said the decision to leave was his.
``It's one of those things, where there's no perfect time to leave,'' he said. ``But it's a good time because a lot of the key pieces are in place.''
Speculation about Postolos' replacement is certain to include Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who grew up near Houston and spent more seasons with the Astros than any other team in his 27-year career.
Ryan is chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers but just recently ended weeks of speculation about his future by saying he was staying even though the club removed the title of team president.
The 66-year-old Ryan said on his weekly radio show Monday he hadn't talked to Crane and said ``I don't think so'' when asked if he had any interest in the opening.
``I'm sure they'll fill it with the right person,'' Ryan said.
The Rangers, who had never won a playoff series when Ryan took over as president in 2008, went to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011. He was a consultant with the Astros when they made their only trip to the World Series in 2005.
The successes have been rare of late for Houston. The Astros entered Monday night's game in Detroit at 10-28, the worst record in the major leagues, and Houston batters had struck out a big league-high 381 times.
The Astros lost 107 games last year and 106 in 2011. Houston is trying to avoid becoming the first team since the expansion New York Mets in the 1960s to lose 106 or more games in three straight seasons. The Astros are making the transition from the National League to the AL West, one of the toughest divisions in baseball.
Houston's attendance plummeted to an NL-worst 1.6 million last season, and the lack of major moves didn't create much preseason buzz.
Houston's opening-day payroll was a big league-low $27.2 million, including $21.6 million for active players and those on the disabled list. Alex Rodriguez will make more than that this year ($29 million) all by himself, according to a study of major league contracts by The Associated Press.
When the Astros reached the World Series, it was late in the careers of stars like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. With management rebuilding with youth and a new manager in Bo Porter, there will be no quick fixes.
Even for a team in transition, the timing of Postolos' departure caught Porter off guard.
``I was shocked, just because I found out the same time everybody else found out,'' Porter said. ``I got to the ballpark, and the information was dropped on me. Obviously it's completely out of my jurisdiction. I don't even know what happened and what led to his resignation.''
Postolos will be returning to his consulting practice advising investors on acquisitions and strategy in major league sports.
``I look at the sports-acquisition marketplace. It's very robust,'' Postolos said. ``For someone like me, who has experience in that marketplace, it's an interesting time.''
The team credited him with leading several changes within the organization, including an overall rebranding of the team with new uniforms, colors and logos, and tweaks to the marketing and foundation departments.
He also emphasized the importance of engaging with fans.
``We appreciate George's hard work in the acquisition of the Astros and his commitment to the organization,'' Crane said. ``I'd also like to personally thank him for the assistance that he has provided to me over the last several years and wish him the best of luck.''

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