October 2009

Mills hits the ground running

Brad Mills, who was introduced as the Astros’ 18th manager on Tuesday, spent his first full day on the job with general manager Ed Wade at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday going over the composition of the coaching staff, among other things.

“We’re trying to accomplish as much as we can today and give him a chance to get back home and do what needs to do there,” Wade said.

The Astros have vacancies for a bench coach, pitching coach, first-base coach and bullpen coach, with hitting Sean Berry returning and Dave Clark returning to coach third base after serving as interim manager the final 13 games of the regular season.

Mills was scheduled to travel home to California on Wednesday before heading to the Arizona Fall League next week to meet up with Wade, Berry and Clark.

“He already knows Sean very well because they live close by in California, and he’s going to quickly find out the person he’s got in Dave Clark,” Wade said. “We’ve got some people we’re going to recommend to him [to join the coaching staff] and he’s got some ideas.

“The composition of the staff will be a collective effort, and I think at the end of the day we’re going to take advantage of the openings we have now to give him a strong staff, which would benefit him personally and benefit the players and the organization.”

Mills said filling out the remainder of the coaching staff is very important.

“The names Ed and I have thrown around already have me really excited,” he said. “These guys have had experience, not only in the Major Leagues, but in the Minor Leagues and whoever we wind up getting it’s going to be pretty exciting. I’m looking for a guy that’s had experience, passion for the game and a lot of energy, and hopefully the players can see that and he’s able to teach and has a lot of knowledge and knows how to convey that knowledge.”

Red Sox first-base coach Tim Bogar, who interviewed with the Astros for the managerial position, said Tuesday he hasn’t given much thought about joining Mills in Houston. Mills said after his news conference Tuesday that he had talked to Boston manager Terry Francona about some of his staff members.

“They’re such good guys and Terry has been very loyal to them and they have been very loyal to Terry over the years,” Mills said. “Tim was an outstanding coach this year for Terry. We’re not going to cross that road just yet.”

While the Astros were given a deadline to get a new manager in place by the start of the World Series, Wade said there is no such timetable for announcing members of the coaching staff.

Mills a solid choice for Astros

Brad Mills may not have been the Astros’ first choice to be their next manager, but he may wind up being the right choice. Mills was named manager of the Astros on Tuesday and brings a wealth of experience and respect to the Houston franchise.

He’s managed for 11 years in the Minor Leagues and has coached in 45 playoff games in the Major League as the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox, winning a pair of World Series titles. He’s worked closely with Terry Francona, considered one of the best managers in the game.

Tim Bogar, who interviewed for the job and last season was Boston first-base coach, couldn’t say enough good things about Mills.

“He’s put in his time and diligence in being a bench coach for [Francona] for a long time and learned quite a bit from him and also his time with the Expos and all the way back to Philly,” Bogar said. “If there’s one guy who deserves a chance to run a team, it’s Brad Mills. Having a chance to run the Astros is going to be perfect for him. Not only is he a capable manager, but also one of the best teachers I’ve been around.

“With the [Astros’] situation on the left side of the infield and the catching situation [and playing youngsters], he’s going to be perfect for those young players. Being in Boston and being round veteran players, he knows how to handle them and knows how to do things to compete and he obviously understands the pitching aspect of it.

“I think they made a great hire, and Brad is going to be everything everyone is looking for as a manager. He may not be a huge name, but you can’t ask for a better quality individual.”

The challenge now for Mills is putting together his staff. Dave Clark will return as third-base coach and Sean Berry will be the hitting coach, but there are important positions to fill, particularly the bench coach and pitching coach.

The Astros finally got their man in Mills, but for Mills the work has yet to begin.

Garner still in mix

Former Astros manager Phil Garner confirmed for MLB.com on Monday he’s still in the mix to be the next manager. Garner interviewed on Oct. 17 and went more than a week without hearing from the Astros, but general manager Ed Wade finally got back to him on Monday and told him he was still in the running.

Astros owner Drayton McLane said Monday as he was traveling to Temple from Austin that a manager will be in place by the end of the week, which is later than his earlier prediction of Wednesday. Still, it appears the Astros will likely have a candidate in place by Wednesday at the latest.

Garner is one of three finalists, joining interim manager Dave Clark and Boston bench coach Brad Mills. Mills and Clark were due to arrive in Houston on Monday and interview again with McLane on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Garner has not been asked in to interview again.

Could Mills be the next manager?

With Manny Acta out of the way, the Astros are indeed down to three candidates — Boston Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, former manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark, who has remained a candidate despite published reports to the contrary.

As of late Sunday, Garner said he had yet to hear anything from the Astros, while Mills had been contacted again by the Astros. Mills certainly falls in line with what the Astros are looking. He tons of experince managing in the Minor Leagues and has extensive experience on a Major League coaching staff. He served as the bench coach under Terry Francona for six years, and we all know how much Ed Wade respects Francona.

Astros owner Drayton McLane maintains a manager will be in place by Wednesday, prior to the start of the World Series. McLane is spending Monday in Temple, so signs are pointing towards the Astros getting something done with somebody on Tuesday.

For more information on Mills, read here.



Astros focused on four candidates

Now the second round of interviews appear to be over — with Manny Acta and later Brad Mills making repeat trips to Minute Maid Park to meet with owner Drayton McLane — the Astros remained focused on four candidates: Acta, Mills, Phil Garner and Dave Clark.

None of these four have been rule out by the Astros, who would like to get something done before the World Series starts. Major League Baseball frowns on major team announcements taking place during the World Series, which starts Wednesday. So it’s of no surprise the Astros could try to get something done before the Fall Classic.

Acta, the former Washington Nationals manager, is also a finalist in Cleveland, which could complicate matters. Mills is the veteran Boston bench coach who is looking for his first job managing in the Major Leagues. Garner and Clark are well-known to Astros fans, both having managed the team.

Garner managed the Astros for more than three years and led them to the World Series in 2005, and Clark was named interim manager when Cecil Cooper was dismissed Sept. 21. The Astros have ruled out neither of the four candidates.

Who would you pick to manage the Astros?

All the interviews and public press conferences are finished, and we know the Astros’ next manager will be one of 10 people. Some have extensive experience in the Majors, some have extensive experience in the Minors and all bring something different to the table.

The Astros were open with the first round of interviews, but now things change. Club officials are taking the search underground, with the next public announcement likely to be the hiring of a manager. GM Ed Wade has set no timetable and MLB doesn’t like announcements to coming during the World Series, so we might have to wait until November to find out who the manager is going to be.

No matter who the Astros pick, don’t expect a quick fix next year. The bottom line is it’s a broken roster that will take a few years to correct. There are too many older players — and  maybe even declining older players — making the lion’s share of the money without many young players coming up. That will change in a few years, but a new manager isn’t going to fix that.

What a new manager can fix is clubhouse chemistry. He can get everyone on the same page. He can get rid of the losing air that took over the clubhouse last year and get the Astros playing inspired baseball again. Let’s be honest. The final two months of the season, every Astros game was the same. They were down by five or six runs early and they’d hit into about three double plays. It was tough to watch.

I wasn’t in the interview room with Wade, president of baseball operations Tal Smith or assistant GMs Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck, so I don’t pretend to know how the interviews went or what they thought of certain guys. I can only tell you what I learned from my research about each guys’ background and what I heard in the 10 minutes I spent with the each candidate.

The Astros are definitely looking for a manager with experience, and I think we’re going to see one with Major League experience. After all, they want a manager who will relate well with younger and older players, and I think you need an experienced MLB manager to deal with star players. So I’ve broken down the candidates into three groups. The leaders, the contenders and the long shots.

Again, this is in no way indicative of what the front office is thinking, but it’s what I think. And sometimes I get things right. Now I want to know what you think. Who should be managing the Astros in 2010 from this group?


Bob Melvin: The Astros have to love the fact he managed veteran players to 93 wins in Seattle and a younger Arizona team to the NLCS in 2007. He seems to be the exactly what the Astros want.  

Manny Acta: No one in the group seemed to have as much knowledge about the Astros than Acta, who was signed by Houston at 16 and spent 16 years in the organization as a player, coach and manager. He’s young, bilingual and this would be his dream job. 

Phil Garner: The fact that Garner, the former Astros manager, even got an interview leads me to believe he’s a serious candidate. If anyone can rally a team and fire them up, it’s Garner. He’s been there, done that. Whether that helps remains to be seen. 

Ned Yost: He took a struggling Milwaukee franchise and led them to the playoffs as they got younger and better. Sure, he was fired at the end of the 2008 season, but that was his team in the playoffs.


Pete Mackanin: The lasting image I took from Mackanin was him walking off the podium after the interview shocked at how few members of the media there were in attendance. But he has tons of experience doing different things and was highly recommended.

Dave Clark: No one would be shocked if the Astros hired Clark, who got the endorsement of the players after his 13 days as interim manager at the end of the season. But I see him staying on the staff and getting another look during the next go-round. 

Brad Mills: Who doesn’t like Brad Mills? He has a great personality and has tons of experience as a Minor League manager and as a coach in the Majors. He spent six years working under Terry Francona, a person Ed Wade respects mightily.


Tim Bogar: Bogar is still young and up-and-coming, which could hurt his chances here. I think he’s going to make a good manager someday, but the experience handling star players just isn’t there.

Randy Ready: I just can’t see the Astros hiring someone with so much lack of experience at the Major League level when they have so many other experienced candidates. His time will come eventually. 

Al Pedrique: The Astros’ Minor League field coordinator knows the organization well, but will players listen to him?  


A look at managerial candidates Tim Bogar and Brad Mills

The Astros will finish their first round of managerial interivews today at Minute Maid Park by visiting with Boston Red Sox coaches Tim Bogar and Brad Mills. Neither man has managed in the Major Leagues before, but both have had success managing in the Minors and both come highly recommended.

Astros general manager Ed Wade hasn’t yet said when the second round of interviews will take place or how candidates will be involved from the initial group of 10, but that will probably happen later this week when owner Drayton McLane returns to town.

Here’s a quick look at Bogar and Mills: 

     Tim Bogar
     Age: 45
     Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
     College: Eastern Illinois.
     Most recent job: Currently first -base coach for Boston Red Sox.
     Previous Major League managing experience: None.
     Major League managing record: None.
     Minor League managing experience: Spent four seasons as manager in the Minor Leagues with Cleveland (2006-07) and the Astros (2004-05) and went to the playoff in three of those seasons. Led Double-A Akron to the Eastern League title in ’06 and ’07 and was named the league’s Manager of the Year in ’06. He was named Manger of the Year in the Appalachian League in 2004 in his first year of managing at Class A Greeneville. The next year, he led Class A Lexington to an 81-58 record, the best record in the South Atlantic League.
     Minor League managing record: 289-200.
     Playing experience: An infielder who spent nine years in the Major Leagues with the New York Mets, the Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, Bogar hit .228 with 24 homers and 161 RBIs in 701 career games. He started a career-high 82 games at shortstop for the Astros in 2000 whiles sharing time with Julio Lugo.   
    Did you know: Bogar played all nine positions in an exhibition game for the Mets against Triple-A Norfolk in 1996?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “When this process started, a lot of people spoke very favorable of Tim. I don’t know him, but certainly there are multiple people, including people on our interview committee and [president of baseball operations] Tal [Smith] and others, that felt Bogar fit the profile extremely well. Despite the fact he hasn’t managed in the big leagues, they felt the experience they had with him and dealing with players [was positive].”

     Brad Mills
     Age: 52
     Hometown:  Exeter, Calif.
     College: College of the Sequoias/University of Arizona.
     Most recent job: Currently bench coach for the Boston Red Sox.
     Previous Major League managing experience: None.
     Major League managing record: None.
     Minor League managing experience: Mills managed 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues in the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002) organizations, moving into managing immediately upon the completion of his playing career. He led the Rockies’ Triple-A club in Colorado Springs to the playoffs in 1994 and Pacific Coast League title in 1995. He last managed in 2002, when he guided the Dodgers’ Triple- A Las Vegas affiliate to a club-record 85 wins the PCL’s Southern Division championship.
     Minor League managing record: Unavailable.
     Playing experience: Appeared in 106 career games over four seasons, all with the Montreal Expos (1980-1983). He hit .256 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 168 at-bats.    
     Did you know: Mills was Nolan Ryan’s 3,509th career strikeout victim, lifting Ryan past Walter Johnson as baseball’s all-time strikeout king in 1983?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “I’ve always had great respect for Brad. [Boston manager] Terry Francona made a point of calling me when the search began and gave a strong endorsement for Millsy and he got a strong endorsement from [Boston general manager] Theo Epstein. Despite the fact he hasn’t managed the big-league level, everyone knows he’s got tremendous experience working as [Francona’s] right-hand guy in Philadelphia and Boston and managed in the Minor Leagues.”


Q and A with Astros managerial candidate Phil Garner

The Astros will interview their final two managerial candidates on Monday when Boston Red Sox coaches Tim Bogar and Brad Mills visit Minute Maid Park. They will be the ninth and 10th men to interview for the job that became vacant when Cecil Cooper was dismissed on Sept. 21. One of the most popular candidates if former Astros manager Phil Garner, who was dismissed late in the 2007 season and replaced by Cooper.

Garner was let go less than two years from leading the Astros to their only World Series berth. He interviewed with the Astros on Saturday and met with the media afterwards. Here’s the transcripe of Garner’s question-and-answer session with the media:

Q: How did the interview go Friday?
A:  “It was enjoyable. You guys know that I’ve known Ed [Wade] for a number of years, but I’ve never know him in this capacity. It was important and I think vital to get an opportunity to see how he feels about the relationship between a manager and a GM and how the manager fits in the organization and his view of the ballclub and what their plans are and where they want to go and how they want to get there. It’s important for me to get to say that to him, too. It was a good starting process.”

Q: What is it like being in the mix in a manager search?
A: “It’s exciting. You probably have noticed in my voice this week. I was with some friends [Friday] night and the guy said, ‘Are you going to do this again?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going to give it by best shot.’ He said, ‘Well, I noticed when I met you after you retired you were a little bit wound up. I’ve noticed how you sort of have kind of relaxed over the last couple years, and now you’re winding up again.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s because it’s a lot of fun.’ This is energizing and exciting and I’m happy and grateful to be one of these 10. There are nine other people that are very well qualified and I think it’s an interesting group. I think they’re going to make some good choices.”

Q: Do you think Drayton McLane’s and Tal Smith’s opinion about you has changed in two years?
A:  “Drayton was not in this process, so I’ve no conversations with Drayton other than to see him here at the ballpark a few times to chat wit him. First and foremost, being fired, there’s nothing wrong with that. It happens in baseball a lot. I did not have any ill feelings I do know I’ve made changes when the club is not going right and in ’07 things weren’t going right. You have to do things to shake up the ballclub. I don’t think Drayton had ill feelings towards me. He was looking at the ballclub, so sometimes you have to take your individual feelings out of this and get over those things. We’re looking at what’s right for the ballclub. If you go back and look at that time, it was probably the right thing to do. I don’t see any problems with that, so put that in its proper prospective. There’s a different scenario now. Given my past experience and what all I’ve done in baseball and how I fit into the picture, maybe it’s a good fit, so that’s how I decided to put my name in the hat to see if maybe there’s a fit here. I don’t think that what happened in ’07 is going to have anything to do with this. It doesn’t for me. I can’t speak for Drayton, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. And I didn’t sense that was an issue [Saturday] either.”

Q: Some Astros players like Doug Brocail and Lance Berkman have praised you recently. How does that make you feel?
A:: “I think the world of those guys and obviously both of those guys we had a great deal of success, and they were a big part of that. I’m grateful for players that say good things, but I’m also grateful for good players, too. Those are two good players. It does make you feel good when players say good things about you.”

Q: What do you think you could bring as a manager if you got another chance?
A: “I feel like No. 1, we can talk about experience and been there, done that. I can talk about a knowledge of the organization, the people that are in the organization. I think there’s a measure of importance to that. I feel re-energized, I always bring an energy to a ballclub. But I think at this point after being out a little over two years, I’m re-energized and I think that’s important to bring a can-do attitude to a ballclub and I can bring that. I’m always upbeat. You guys know that I can see a lot of good things even in a storm. That I can bring to the table: baseball experience and knowledge. I think there’s some things that need to be done with this ballclub and for whatever reason I don’t think it’s where it should be. I think there’s going to need to be a tough hand applied, and I think I’m very capable of doing that. I know I can and I think the players will respect that and will appreciate we need to be on a different path if we’re going to get back to where we need to be.”

Q: Have you talked much about the job with fellow candidate Bob Melvin, who’ s a close friend?
A: “Most people how this came about, but I’ll say it again. Bob called me last week and said he thought he was going to get an interview here and could I give him some insight on the organization and the city and if I would be so inclined to call on his behalf. Of course, I’m delighted to speak on Bob’s behalf. I think that he’s a terrific manager, he’s a great guy if you get to know him. Players love him. If you talk to anybody that’s ever played for him, they’re going to love him. He’ll do a fabulous job. I still would recommend Bob Melvin for the job. We spoke about that, but I called Tal [Smith] on his behalf. I actually called Wade first and Wade was in a meeting and I called Tal and I’m sure Tal probably saw my name pop up on his phone because the way he answered the phone, he said, ‘Hey, are you a candidate?’ That kind of stunned me a little bit. Every time there’s an opening in baseball you always think about it – Washington and Cleveland. I thought for a few minutes about those situations even though it doesn’t go anywhere. So when the opening occurred here I thought about it for a while and didn’t let it go any further than just thinking about it. When Tal said that, it all clicks back. I said, ‘Of course, if you guys think I’m a candidate, I’m a candidate’ and we dropped it at that. We continued the conversation by talking about all of Bo’s good points and why I thought he should be under consideration for this job, and Tal called me back the next day and asked if I would be interested in putting my name in the hat and feel comfortable going through the vetting process like everybody else. I’m comfortable with that and said I would. That’s how I got here. Bo and I had talked about the ballclub. I had spoken on his behalf to the ballclub and even as I think of things I think might be an advantage to him I would call him and pass those onto him.”

Q: How did this year’s Astros team compare to the ’07 team?
A: “We weren’t playing well in ’07 and I think any time your club is playing poorly it’s hard to determine if the club’s better than you’re actually playing or it’s about what you have. And so, I’ll have to leave it up to the people that are evaluating and some p the personnel they’ve watched closer than I have the last couple of years. You can always use a year like the Astros have gone through as a good bounce-off point. You can go to all players, key player son your ballclub and you can say, ‘How’d that work for you?’ So whatever it is that was going on it hasn’t worked too well. It’s a good time to promote change a good time to say ‘Hey, you’ve got to get back to some of the things you know work and some of the things you think are important for a ballclub.’ I think it’s a good opportunity right now to approach those things. Certainly you would start that in the winter, but when you go into Spring Training it’s a great opportunity to say what we were doing wasn’t working so we have to do things differently. I say it that way because so many times in baseball we’re so resistant to change. You guys know how that is. It’s hard to get ballclubs to turn and go in a direction. But this is a good opportunity to go in a direction philosophically and then you have to apply it to the field.”

Q: Billy Martin had five different stints as manager of the Yankees. Could you be the Billy Martin of the Astros?
A: “Was it five times he was fired? I don’t want to go through five firings, but I wouldn’t mind a couple of firings. That would be alright. It has worked before and maybe it could work begin.”

Q: Did you have your World Series ring inside your resume?
A: “That’s one thing that we’ve gone there as an organization and I was part of that and I’m proud of that.”

Q: Have you talked recently with Cecil Cooper?
A: “I have not talked to Cecil yet. As a matter of course, I usually wait when things like this happen to good friends, but I will give him a call. I want to check with him and see how he’s doing.”

Q: How has going for the same job affected your relationship with close friend Bob Melvin?
A:  “That’s baseball, that’s what I would say. This is a most unusual sport in the sense that you could have guys that are working for you for a while and you might end up working for them for one stretch. It’s a totally unusual situation. We’re very close. We became close when we were working together in Milwaukee. I watched him grow as a coach and as a manger and become a very good manager. I have the greatest deal of respect for him. From my standpoint, it has not strained us. I will have to admit it was a little unusual phone call to tell him, ‘Hey Bo, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I spoke to Tal and he says you are going to get an interview and they think very highly of you and the bad news is I’m going to interview also.’ That was strange, but it’s the way things happen in this game sometimes.”

Q: Bob Melvin was fired this year just two years removed from being NL Manager of the year, and you were fired two years removed from going to the World Series. What do you think of that?
A: “That’s what happens. I don’t quibble wit that. That’s the way it’s happened. I can only refer to what I’ve done in terms of what’s happening on the field. When things aren’t going the way you want to you make changes. You change the lineup or try to set some people down. You try to make a trade sometimes. The same thong goes for the personnel and when it’s not going the way you want you, you make changes.”

Q: What did you see in the Astros last season?
A: ” It is tough when you’re hometown team is not playing to what you think they’re capabilities are. And I say that, but you never really know until you’re with these guys on a daily basis what you think a guy’s capable of. We all have our opinions on the outside looking in. That doesn’t mean I’m right about that, but we all have our opinions on it. At times, I thought there were a couple of things said [in the media] from my standpoint as a coach or a manager, I would have though it’s better to keep those things in the clubhouse. That would be one thing. Were we lacking in a team effort? It looked like that at times. I think those things need to be addressed. I don’t know if that was a fault of anybody, but that’s the way it appeared to me. I think those are the things that would need to be addressed. We need to get back to the team concept. Baseball is unusual from the fact of individuals play to get it done, but you need a team effort and you need to get where you’re going. It appeared to me at times we weren’t really sure we were playing for a team, for a single goal.”


Get to know Phil Garner and Pete Mackanin

Six Astros managerial candidates have interviewed and there are four left, beginning with former Astros manager Phil Garner and bench coach Pete Mackanin today at Minute Maid Park. He’s a closer look at each one of those men:

     Phil Garner
     Age: 60
     Hometown: Jefferson City, Tenn.
     College: Tennessee.
     Most recent job: Manager of the Astros
     Previous Major League managing experience: Garner managed for more than 14 years in the Majors, spending eight seasons in Milwaukee (1992-1999) and two full seasons in Detroit (2000-01) before being dismissed six games into 2002 season. He took over the Astros at the All-Star break in 2004 and led them to the NLCS and a year later to the World Series. He was let go with 31 games left in the 2007 season and has been out of baseball since.
     Major League managing record: 985-1,054.
     Minor League managing experience: None.
     Minor League managing record: None.
     Playing experience: Spent 16 seasons in the Major Leagues with Oakland, Pittsburgh, Houston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco and hit .260 with 109 homers and 738 RBIs in 1,860 games. He helped Pittsburgh to the 1979 World Series title by hitting .500 in the World Series.  He played with the Astros from 1981-87 and appeared in more games with the Astros than he did with any other team.
    Did you know: Garner became a candidate after calling Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith to recommend Bob Melvin for the job?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “I’ve known Phil since we crossed paths in 1981 when I went to the Pirates and he was there. I’ve been a big fan from afar in Detroit and then here his record speaks for itself. He’s a tremendous candidate.”

     Pete Mackanin
     Age: 58
     Hometown: Chicago.
     College: Illinois.
     Most recent job: Currently the bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Has been interim manager twice, with Pittsburgh in 2005 and Cincinnati in 2007. He went 12-14 in the final 26 games with the Pirates in ’05 and 41-39 in the second half of the season two years later with the Reds, who had the worst record in the Majors when Mackanin took over.
     Major League managing record: 53-53.
     Minor League managing experience: Managed in the Minor Leagues for 13 seasons and won championships in 1995 (Ottawa of the International League), 2002 (Lynchburg of the Carolina League) and 1990 (Nashville, Eastern Division championship of the American Association). Mackanin has also managed in Venezuela League, Dominican winter league and Puerto Rican winter league. He also has seven years of Major League coaching experience with Pittsburgh and Montreal.
     Minor League managing record: 917-849.
     Playing experience: Played for nine years as an infielder in the Major Leagues with Texas (1973-74), Montreal (1975-77), Philadelphia (1978-79) and Montreal (1980-81). He hit .226 with 30 homers and 141 RBIs in 548 career games.
      Did you know: Mackanin has been succeeded twice by Jim Tracy as a manager, with Class A Peoria in 1986 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006? He succeeded Tracy as manager at Triple-A Ottawa in 1995.
     What GM Ed Wade said: “Pete served as interim manager it Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and had great results taking over in Cincinnati. I talked to Wayne Krivsky, who as the GM [in Cincinnati] at the time, and he was a really big advocate of Pete’s. He has managing experience in winter, extensively in the Minor Leagues and on two Major League club. He has a great personality and a good sense of humor.”

Closer look at Bob Melvin and Manny Acta

Day 3 of the Astros’ managerial search continues today when two of the candidates I consider the favorites come to Minute Maid Park — former Arizona manager Bob Melvin and former Washington manager Manny Acta. Both men told MLB.com last week they were candidates and were looking forward to coming to Houston. Here’s a look at Melvin and Acta.

     Bob Melvin
     Age: 47
     Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.
     College: California.
     Most recent job: Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Managed the Seattle Mariners in 2003-04 and Arizona Diamondbacks from 2005 until he was dismissed on May 9 of this year after a 12-17 start. He won 93 games with Seattle in 2003 but didn’t make the playoffs and lost 99 games the following year. Melvin was hired by the Diamondbacks and led Arizona to the 2007 NL West title before being swept in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies. He was NL Manager of the Year in 2007.
     Minor League managing experience: None.
     Minor League managing record: None.
     Playing experience: Melvin spent most of his career as a backup catcher for 10 seasons with Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Kansas City, Boston, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. He hit .233 with 35 homers and 212 RBIs in 692 career games.
    Did you know: Melvin was hired by Arizona to replace Wally Backman, who was dismissed before he managed a single game because of past discretions?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “Once we started to focus in on some names and we did our homework and talked to people like Pat Gillick and [former Diamondbacks general manager] Joe Garagolia Jr., they thought he did a good job.”

     Manny Acta
     Age: 40
     Hometown: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
     College: None
     Most recent job: Manager of Washington Nationals.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Acta managed the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009 and never finished higher than fourth place in the NL East, which came during his first season when he went 73-89. Acta was fired July 12 after a loss to the Astros.
     Major League managing record: 163-254.
     Minor League managing experience: Began managing at 1993 with the Auburn Astros of the New York-Penn League before moving to Quad City of the Midwest League in 1997. He took over the Astros’ Florida State League affiliate at Kissimmee in 1999 and won a league championship and managed again at Kissimmee in 2000.
     Minor League managing record: 419-432.
     Playing experience: Acta played for five seasons in the Astros’ Minor League system and was a career .241 hitter in 370 games. He never played above the Double-A level.
     Did you know: The plane that crashed in 2006 that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into Acta’s apartment in New York? Acta was the third-base coach with the Mets at the time.
     What Acta said: “It is a very special organization to me. I spent 16 years of my baseball career over there. I owe them for shaping me into the baseball man that I’m today.”