October 2009

Meet managerial candidates Ned Yost and Randy Ready

With Dave Clark and Al Pedrique completing their interviews Wednesday, former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost and San Diego Padres hitting coach Randy Ready will take their turns in the hot seat on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. Here are their bios:

     Ned Yost
     Age: 54
     Hometown: Eureka, Calif.
     College: None.
     Most recent job: Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Managed the Brewers for six years and guided them from also-ran to contender in the National League. Milwaukee finished sixth in the NL Central in his first two seasons, third in 2005, fourth in 2006 and second in 2007 and 2008. The Brewers clinched the NL Wild Card on the final day of the 2008 season, just days after Yost has been dismissed as manager.
     Major League managing record: 457-502.
     Minor League managing experience: Managed in Class-A Sumter from 1988-90.
     Minor League managing record: 197-223.
     Playing experience: Yost spent six years in the Majors as a backup catcher with Milwaukee (1980-83), Texas (1984) and Montreal (1985). He’s a career .212 hitter with 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 605 games.
     Did you know: Before becoming manager of the Brewers, Yost was the bullpen coach (1991-98) and third-base coach (1999-2002) under Bobby Cox in Atlanta?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “I don’t know Ned very well, but the guy served under Bobby Cox for 10 years and certainly has what it takes to be a successful big-league manager and he has experienced success in the Major Leagues. It didn’t end well [in Milwaukee], but that’s true of all the experienced guys we’re interviewing.”

     Randy Ready
     Age: 49
     Hometown: Freemont, Calif.
     College: Cal State Heyward.
     Most recent job: Hitting coach for the San Diego Padres.
     Previous Major League managing experience: None.
     Major League managing record: None.
     Minor League managing experience: Ready began his Minor League managerial career in 2002 with Oneonta of the New York-Penn League and was named Manger of the Year. He spent two years in Oneonta before returning the Padres and managing at Class-A Fort Wayne (2004-06) and San Antonio (2007). He led the Missions to the Teas League title in 2007. He took over as manager at Triple-A Portland prior to the 2008 season and held that position until being named the hitting coach of the Padres on July 31, 2009.
     Minor League managing record: 489-466.
     Playing experience: Ready was a fifth-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1980 draft and played parts of 13 seasons in the major leagues with the Brewers (1983-86), Padres (1986-89), Philadelphia (1989-91; 1994-95), Oakland (1992) and Montreal (1993). For his major league career, Ready batted .259 with 107 doubles, 21 triples, 40 home runs, 239 RBIs and 312 runs scored over 777 games.
     Did you know: Ready was teammates with Cecil Cooper and Ned Yost in Milwaukee in 1983.
     What GM Ed Wade said: “I’ve known Randy since ’89 when we traded for him in Philadelphia. He ha a great personality and mixes with players. I saw him manager in the Tigers’ Minor League system and was impressed. He has equally as strong credentials managing in the Padres’ system. When I scouted [for the Padres] for a couple of years, I could tell he relates very well with the players. They promoted him to big-league hitting coach midway through this season, and  a lot of people feel the success they experienced in the second half of the season coincided with Randy arriving on the scene.”


A look at Astros managerial candidates Dave Clark and Al Pedrique

In an effort to give you a better understanding of the men who are coming to interview for the Astros’ full-time managerial job, this blog will be home to bios of the potential candidates on the day they are scheduled to interview. In case you missed it, here is the interview schedule:

     Wednesday: 10 a.m.-Dave Clark; 1:30 p.m.-Al Pedrique
     Thursday: 10 a.m.-Ned Yost; 1:30 p.m.-Randy Ready
     Friday: 10 a.m.-Bob Melvin; 1:30 p.m.-Manny Acta
     Saturday: 10 a.m.-Phil Garner
     Monday: 10 a.m.-Brad Mills; 1:30 p.m.-Tim Bogar

Clark, the Astros’ interim manager, and Pedrique, the Astros’ Minor League field coordinator, are pretty familiar to Astros fans, but hopefully these bios will help everyone get to know the candidates better in advance on their interviews. The first interviews are Wednesday, but here are the bios of the first two candidates:

     Dave Clark
     Age: 47
     Hometown: Tupelo, Miss.
     College: Jackson State
     Most recent job: Astros interim manager (after spending most of season as third-base coach).
     Previous Major League managing experience: Went 4-9 in final 13 games with Astros this year.
     Major League managing record: 4-9.
     Minor League managing experience: Made managerial debut in 2003 at Class-A Lynchburg in Carolina League and was named league’s Manager of the Year. In 2004, he managed at Class-A Hickory in the Pittsburgh organization and went 85-55 and won the South Atlantic League title. The Astros hired him in 2005 and he managed for three years at Double-A Corpus Christi, leading the Hooks to the 2006 Texas League title and winning Manager of the Year honors. He managed at Triple-A Round Rock in 2008 and went 64-79.
     Minor League managing record: 432-405.
     Playing experience: Played 13 seasons in Major Leagues, ending his career with the Astros in 1998. He’s a career .264 hitter with 62 homers and 284 RBIs in 905 games. He was originally selected in first round (11th pick overall) in 1983 draft by Cleveland.
     Did you know: Clark was 26-0 as a Golden Gloves boxer while in high school?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “I was impressed with the work he did at Triple-A a year ago. I thought he did a very solid job as third-base coach, and I was favorably impressed with him as both as a coach and an interim manager.”

     Al Pedrique
     Age: 49
     Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela
     College: None
     Most recent job: Astros’ Minor League field coordinator.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Went 22-61 in second half of season for Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004.
     Major League managing record: 22-61.
     Minor League managing experience:  He managed for eight years in the Minors, posting back-to-back winning seasons in 2002-03 at Double-A Tucson in his final two seasons as skipper. He began managing in 1995 and guided the Astros’ Class-A affiliate in Michigan in 1999-2000, winning the Midwest league title in 2000. He’s also managed in the Venezuelan Winter League and the Arizona Fall League. 
     Minor League managing record: 463-433.
     Playing experience: Pedrique played three seasons in the Major Leagues and hit .247 with one home run in 174 games with the New York Mets, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
     Did you know: Pedrique was the starting shortstop for the National League All-Star team in the original RBI Baseball video game by Nintendo?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “Al was here as an administrative coach when I got here and I was impressed enough with what he did that we made him field coordinator, which is a critical part of our organization. Al’s done a great job in that role and relates well with people. He’s stern when he has to be and is willing to teach, which is important.”

How Garner became a candidate

Upon hearing the Astros were in search of a full-time manager with plenty of experience, Phil Garner last week called president of baseball operations Tal Smith to give an endorsement of Bob Melvin, who had coached under Garner in Milwaukee.

Before Garner could even mention Melvin’s name, he became a candidate himself.

“All of sudden on the caller ID it showed Phil Garner was calling and I picked up and said, ‘Are you a candidate?'” Smith said. “I was being facetious. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I wouldn’t mind it, but it’s up to you guys.'”

And that’s how Garner, one of most popular managers in team history and the only one to lead the Astros to the World Series, found himself back in the mix to return to the team that dismissed him with a month remaining in the 2007 season.

Astros have six confirmed candidates for manager job

The names are slowly coming in. The Astros will begin interviewing managerial candidates Wednesday, and Red Sox coach bench Brad Mills and first base coach Tim Bogar have been given permission by the Red Sox to interview with the Astros. Interim manager Dave Clark will be among two men to interview Wednesday, and former Washington manager Manny Acta has already acknowledged he will interview.

Also, former Arizona manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com on Monday he will interview later this week. Wade has confirmed Acta, Mills, Bogar, Clark and Astros Minor League field coordinator Al Pedrique as candidates.

The Astros will try to interview two candidates per day beginning Wednesday and hope to finish the first round of interviews by later this week. Wade, president of baseball operations Tal Smith, assistant general managers Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck and special assistant to the general manager Enos Cabell will be involved in the first round of interviews. Owner Drayton McLane is scheduled to get involved later in the process.

Wade has been making calls to try to gather more information about the men who will interview, but he’s looking forward to talking to the candidates in person

“We’ll have very specific questions about how he goes about organizing Spring Training, how he interacts with coaches and the authority he gives to coaches and things of that nature – basically walking through what one would expect a manager’s responsibilities to be,” he said. “And we’ll ask some direct questions about how they go about things in each of those areas.”


Wade updates manager search

Astros general manager Ed Wade and his baseball operations staff will begin interviewing candidates for the full-time manager job on Wednesday at Union Station. The Astros have about 10 names on their initial list of candidates, with interim manager Dave Clark the only candidate the club has disclosed to the public.

Wade said Thursday that Clark would probably the first to interview in what will likely be multiple interviews next week. After the candidate goes through the interview, he will sit down and meet with the media.

Wade got a positive response when he contact several candidates Friday.

“We made contact with quite a few of the prospective candidates and set interview times up for them,” he said. “This is a very attractive opportunity, and everyone I talked to today was very excited and pleased.”

Open interview process will be interesting

Astros fans, consider yourselves lucky. You’re going to get to go through each step of the managerial interview process as if you were in the same room with Tal Smith and Ed Wade. Like they did when Wade was hired more than two years ago, the Astros are keeping the process open.

That means they’re going to announce who’s coming in to interview (or in some cases who they are going to interview) the day before the interview happens, and the candidate will be made available to the media when the interview is over. Not that we’ll gain any great insight from these guys after they interview, but it will be nice to know who the candidates are and what they bring to the table.

And I’ll be there to bring you all the details on the candidates. Of course, the quickest way to find out which candidates are going to be interview is to follow me on twitter: @brianmctaggart



A look at some possible manager candidates

The Astros could begin contacting potential managerial candidates later this week once owner Drayton McLane returns to Houston from a business trip to Washington, D.C. Gauging from conversations I’ve had with general manager Ed Wade and others in the organization, I’m more and more convinced the Astros will bring in a manager with Major League managing experience.

Because the 2010 club is again going to be made up of mostly veteran players, Wade wants a manager with experience managing in the Minors or Majors and experience on a Major League coaching staff, but I get the feeling we’re not going to see a first-timer on the job. Wade has three pages of names he plans to whittle down to 10 at some point in the near future.

Whether Dave Clark, who certainly has the players’ endorsement for manager, fits their bill remains to be seen, but he is a serious candidate. Clark could be a terrific manager, but he may not get the opportunity here. Or he might. But I still envision him as a long shot to get the job on a full-time basis.

Not being privy to the Astros’ wish list and seeing very few candidates having been tied to the job publicly, I’ve put together a list of some potential managerial candidates you could be reading about in the coming days. In other words, these are men who would likely have interest in the job, but whether the Astros have interest in them remains to be seen:

  • Ned Yost: Yost, 54, helped the Brewers return to contender during his a managerial stint in Milwaukee that began in 2003 and ended in the final days of the 2008 season, with the Brewers on their way to their first playoff berth in 26 years. His career record is 457-502.
  • Willie Randolph: Randolph, 55, has gone on record and expressed an interest in the job. He was Yankees base and bench coach for 11 years and took over as manager of the Mets in 2005 in his first-ever managerial job. He led the Mets to within one game of the World Series in 2006 and then to their historic collapse at the end of 2007. He was fired in the middle of the 2008 season, and is currently bench coach with Milwaukee. His career record is 302-253.
  • Jim Fregosi: A former Gold Glove player during a distinguished Major League career, Fregosi, 67, managed the Phillies to the 1993 World Series and is currently a top scout with the Braves. He managed the Angels (1978-1981) and won an AL West title, guided the White Sox (1986-88), Phillies (1991-1996) and Blue Jays (1999-2000). His career record is 1,028-1,095. He interviewed in 2001 before the Astros hired Jimy Williams and he has deep ties to Ed Wade.
  • Tim Bogar: Bogar, 42, is the first base coach for the Red Sox and former Astros infielder. He started his managerial career in 2004 with the Greeneville of the Appalachian League and won the championship en route to being named Manager of the Year. He was named Manager of the Year in the South Atlantic League Lexington Legends in 2005 before leaving the organization. In 2006, he was named Eastern League Manager of the Year with the Double-A Akron Aeros. His career managerial record in the Minors is 250-168.
  • Lloyd McClendon: The hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers is now available after his team was bounced by Minnesota in a one-game playoff Tuesday. McClendon, 50, went 336-446 as manager of the low-budget Pirates from 2001-2005. He played seven years in the Major Leagues and was a career .244 hitter.
  • Manny Acta: A popular figure in the Astros organizations from his years as a player and a coach in the system, he managed the Washington Nationals for 2 1/2 years and sent 132-198. He previously served as third base coach for Montreal under Frank Robinson in 2002-2005 and was third base coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph until the end of the 2006 season.
  • Eric Wedge: The 2007 American League Manager of the Year, Wedge went 561-573 in seven years as manager of the Cleveland Indians and won the AL Central title in 2007. Wedge, 41, is close friends with Jeff Bagwell, who’s an assistant to Ed Wade.

How about LaTroy Hawkins as closer in 2010?

I’m not a big fan of closers. I mean, it’s an important job and when you have dominant closer like the Phillies did last year with Brad Lidge, it can make a huge difference. But I’m also of the belief that most pitchers with good stuff could convert nine of 10 save chances.

Jose Valverde has been pretty good this season since coming back off the disabled list, which has only driven up his price up when he faces free agency this winter. He’s going to demand, I’m guessing, at least $10 million per year, which should be enough to make the Astros walk away from him. Nice guy, good pitcher, but they can’t afford that.

If I were the Astros, my Plan B would be LaTroy Hawkins. Nice guy, good pitcher and affordable. Hawkins is making $3.5 million this year and he would likely return at probably less than half at what Valverde is going to make. Hawkins has pitched well since the Astros plucked him off his couch last year, and he has experience closing games.

Hawkins saved 42 games for the Twins in 2000-01 and 25 for the Cubs in 2004. And he saved 11 this year while Valverde was on the disabled list. 

Jeff Fulchino has blossomed into a pitcher who could handle the set-up role. Let’s be honest, Doug Brocail isn’t coming back.

But to say a team is only as good as its closer isn’t entirely true. Look at the Phillies. They’ve blown at least 11 saves this year and have one of the best records in baseball. That being said, who would pick the Phillies to win the World Series at this point with their unstable closer situation? The point is the Phillies are a great team, even without a top-notch closer. The Astros aren’t in their league, so why retain a top-notch closer?