Results tagged ‘ Jeff Luhnow ’
The Astros took a flier on another reclamation project Monday, signing veteran left-handed Erik Bedard to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training. Houston signed outfielder Rick Ankiel last week.
Bedard, 33, made 24 starts for the Pirates last year went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA, allowing 129 hits in 125 2/3 innings. In his nine-year Major League career, he’s 63-64 with a 3.85 ERA with the Orioles, Mariners, Pirates and Red Sox.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Bedard is likely to take a spot in the Houston rotation this year behind right-handers Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles. He started on Opening Day for the Pirates last year.
“When you have a lot of right-handers in the mix and to have a left-hander with his type of Major League experience and success and track record, it can only help us,” Luhnow said. “He’s got a strong chance to be in our rotation all year long, and we’re hoping that’s the Erik Bedard that’s had tremendous success already in his big league career.”
Bedard was one of the most effective left-handed starters in the American League from 2006-09, ranking third in winning percentage with a 39-23 (.629) record and second in ERA (3.40) among lefties in that span before being slowed by injuries. He was 13-5 for Baltimore in 2007.
“It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see him as a very, very effective Major League starter,” Luhnow said. “He’s been very, very effective throughout most of his career and has had challenges with injuries, but he’s still young and has a lot of ambition left in the game.”
Among those also battling for rotation spots this spring are right-handers Philip Humber, Alex White, John Ely and Jarred Cosart and left-handers Dallas Keuchel. Lefties Brett Oberholtzer and Rudy Owens will also be in camp, but they’re likely to start in the Minor Leagues.
“We’re going to take the best five starters, regardless of handedness,” Luhnow said.
Jeff Luhnow’s statement on suspension of prospect Jonathan Singleton for 50 games:
“We learned today that Jonathan Singleton has tested positive for a drug of abuse and has been suspended 50 games as a result. We are disappointed in the decisions that Jonathan made leading up to this positive test. Jonathan has expressed regret for his decision and we expect will take the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. He has owned up to his actions and that is a necessary first step. The Astros will support Jonathan through this difficult time and we hope this example will prevent other athletes from making similar decisions.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club plans to tender contracts to their four remaining arbitration-eligible players – pitchers Bud Norris, Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lopez, of course, has been subject of trade speculation, but for now he remains with Houston.
The deadline to tender a contract is 10:59 p.m. CT Friday.
Norris, Lopez and Wright are all eligible for arbitration for the first time, and Lowrie is going through the process a second time. Each player will submit a desired salary for 2013, and the Astros will also submit their offer. That serves as the starting point for the negotiations, and both sides typically meet in the middle
If the sides can’t find common ground, they will take their case before an arbitration panel in February that will determine the players’ salary. In this scenario, this is no middle ground. The panel will side with either the player or the team, but negotiations can continue right up to the hearing.
Astros assistant general manager David Stearns is going to be spearheading the team’s arbitration process.
“He has some experience in that area, both from the labor relations side of Major League baseball, as well as the team side,” Luhnow said. “Our cases are nothing too complex at this point. They’re all first-year guys, with the exception of Jed, who’s a second-year guy. We went through preparing for a cast last year. We’re in pretty good shape, and I feel good about we’re going to get all our guys done.”
Here’s a closer look at each player:
– Jed Lowrie made $1.15 million in his first season in Houston in 2012 and was putting up All-Star numbers before a sprained right ankle suffered in mid July put him on the shelf for 52 games. He wound up hitting .244 with a career-high 16 homers and 42 RBIs. Lowrie could as much as double his salary from a year ago.
– Bud Norris had a strange year statistically, going 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts. He had 165 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings, but went nearly three months without a win while battling various injuries and some inconsistencies. He was 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA at home and 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA on the road. He started strong, but was 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA in 18 starts from May 26-Sept. 20. He finished the season having not allowed a run in his final two starts, 13 1/3 innings.
Norris made $511,000 last season and should see a substantial bump based on his body of work, perhaps in the $2 million range
– Wesley Wright, who made $512,000 last season, is one of the longest-tenured Astros, having pitched parts of five seasons with the club from 2008-12. He made a career-high 77 appearances as lefty specialist last year and went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA, including a 19-game scoreless streak. Lefties have hit just .170 off of him the last two years combined and he’ll remain a key cog in the bullpen.
The Astros got Wright in the Rule 5 Draft in 2007, and he’s had an unusual tenure in Houston. He’s been tried as a starter, had his arm slot temporarily changed and bounced between Triple-A and Houston so many times he could start his own shuttle service. But he appears to have entrenched himself in the bullpen and will be paid accordingly.
– Wilton Lopez, claimed off waivers in 2009 by Ed Wade, has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last year in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero. He posted the lowest walks-per-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.
Lopez made $515,500 last season and could wind up around $1 million next season based on his workload and track record. That’s if the Astros don’t trade him.
Astros manager Bo Porter, who has officially taken control of the club following the elimination of the Nationals from the playoffs on Friday night, was at Minute Maid Park on Monday for a meeting with general manager Jeff Luhnow.
The top priority for Porter and Luhnow is finalizing the Major League coaching staff, something Luhnow said they would like have done in the next 10-14 days.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Luhnow said.
The Astros’ current coaching staff consists of bench coach Joe Pettini, hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Doug Brocail, third-base coach Dave Clark, first-base coach Dan Radison and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson. Van Burkleo and Radison took over in August when manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham were let go.
Pettini, who came to the Astros after 10 years as the Cardinals bench coach, and Brocail both said last month they would like to return next year, but their fate remains up in the air. Tony DeFrancesco, who served as interim manager for the final 41 games, could also return to the field staff in some capacity.
“It was fun with this young club,” Pettini said last month. “It wasn’t so much fun losing so many as we have, but it’s always fun working with younger guys and seeing guys develop. Some guys turn into everyday players and some guys might not make it or stay here. That’s the growing pains in the organization.
“Yeah, I would [like to stay]. I’m 57 years old and have 11 years as a coach at the big league level and a few as a player, and I’m not quite ready to retire yet. I’d like to do it a few more years.”
Brocail, 45, put in a full season as pitching coach in 2012 after taking over midway through the 2011 seasons when Brad Arnsberg was let go.
“Of course, I’d love to be back,” he said last month. “I love this job, but we have a lot of work to do. I’d like to see it through. I don’t know what their thoughts are. Nobody’s talked about it, but if they want to sit down and talk, I’d love to be back. We all know we have a ton of work to do, we all know there’s a plan in place, and that plan needs to be followed to a T, and I hope I’m the guy and they have confidence in me.”
Porter, 40, spent the previous two seasons as third-base coach for the Nationals and is inheriting an Astros team that has lost 213 games in the past two seasons. Luhnow said Porter will meet with the media at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.
Astros owner Jim Crane said Tuesday the club has whittled its managerial search to three or four candidates and hopes to be able have the process wrapped up either later this week or early next week. The announcement of the hire will depend on whether the new manager is working for a playoff club.
“It will really depend on the selection we make, how quickly we announce that based upon where the teams are and the candidates we’re talking to,” Crane said. “If they’re in the playoffs, we might have to wait until the playoffs are over.”
Crane said the club has a good feeling about “a couple of candidates,” but said the team is still checking backgrounds and references. He didn’t rule out the idea of any remaining potential candidates having another interview with management.
“We got a very good look at a lot of different people and we learned a lot through the process,” Crane said. “We think the group we have left, any one of them will be a good manager.”
Among the candidate who have interviewed and are still in the hunt are Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco.
“I’m confident we’re going to get a great manager,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “There’s a lot of excellent baseball people that are ready to help the organization. … It’s splitting hairs which one is better than the other. Really, it’s about which one is a better fit for the organization at this point in time given where we’re going.”
Larry Bowa, a long-time Major League player, manager and coach, was at Minute Maid Park on Friday to meet with general manager Jeff Luhnow at a time when the Astros are searching for a manager.
Luhnow, who picked up Bowa at the airport on Friday morning, wouldn’t confirm whether Bowa was a candidate for the full-time managerial position. Bowa, before leaving the airport, said he was meeting to “exchange baseball ideas.”
Luhnow later said in a text message to MLB.com: “Larry is here to meet with me on some baseball related matters.”
Bowa comes to Houston one day after Nationals third base coach Bo Porter was in town to interview on Thursday. Earlier in the week, the Astros interviewed Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for their managerial position, a source told MLB.com.
Martinez, 47, has been the bench coach of the Rays since 2008 and served as a Spring Training coach for manager Joe Maddon the previous two seasons. Martinez played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues with eight different teams.
As a player, Bowa was a five-time All-Star selection with the Phillies and also played for the Cubs and the Mets. A fiery personality as a player and later as a manager, he was a career .260 hitter in 16 Major League seasons and finished his career with 2,191 hits and won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980.
Bowa managed the Padres in 1987-88 and later managed the Phillies from 2001-04. He also served as a coach with the Phillies, Angels, Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers. In six years as a manager, he was 418-435 (.490) with no post-season appearances.
He was named National League Manager of the Year in 2001 after the Phillies went from last place in 2000 to within two games of the division title the next year. He was dismissed with two games remaining in the 2004 season.
Bowa, 66, has been a studio analyst for the MLB Network since early in 2011.
The Astros began interviewing managerial candidates this week in an effort to find a full-time manager. Brad Mills was let go last month after nearly three years at the helm of the club, and Tony DeFrancesco has been managing the club on an interim basis.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday the team’s search for a permanent manager remains in the early stages. Luhnow, team president George Postolos and owner Jim Crane have a long list of candidates, and the team is trying to gain as much information as possible before starting the interview process.
Tony DeFrancesco has been managing the team on an interim basis since Brad Mills was let go Aug. 18.
“We’re continuing to assess our list of candidates,” Luhnow said. “I mentioned before that it’s a relatively long list and what we’re trying to do right now is do as much as we can prior to engaging in any conversations to trim that list down a little bit, and there are a lot of conversations going on between George and Jim and myself and us reaching out to people in the industry we know and trust. That’s the process we’re going through right now.”
The challenge for the team’s brass is finding the type of candidate that most closely matches the team’s organizational direction. Luhnow said the new manager would have to be an inspirational leader, a teacher and a strategist. And he, obviously, needs to be willing to be excited to work with young players.
“We need someone that’s going to be good at teaching, someone good at inspiring and basically working with the front office and help us achieve our goal of becoming as competitive as possible,” he said. “I don’t see a lot of separation between the front office and the manager and the field staff. All those should work together seamlessly towards the same objective.”
Luhnow said the team would like to interview potential candidates all within the same time frame, but he doesn’t know how soon interviews will start.
Here it is. The Astros have set their 25-man roster (players in italics are on an active Opening Day roster for the first time):
Fernando Abad (L)
J.A. Happ (L)
Wandy Rodriguez (L)
Wesley Wright (L)
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who created a minor stir last week when he said, while speaking at an analytical conference, that the Texas Rangers were spending in the international market like “drunken sailors,” said Thursday he had sent a direct apology Rangers president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels.
“I reached out to Jon and to Nolan because it was taken out of context,” Luhnow said. “I don’t know what they heard, but I did reach out to them and explained that it was not a dig against that organization because they’ve done a great job there.”
The Rangers opened their wallets for pitcher Yu Darvish earlier this year signed him to a six-year, $60-million deal and they have signed Dominican teenager Jairo Beras, though the deal is being reviewed by Major League Baseball to confirm Beras’ age.
Luhnow spoke last week at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which was co-chaired by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. The conference provides a forum for industry professionals (executives and leading researchers) and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry.
The second day of pitcher and catcher workouts went off without a hitch, with Astros manager Brad Mills getting his first look at pitchers like Rhiner Cruz, Livan Hernandez and Paul Clemens when they threw in the bullpen for the first time.
“Watching the guys throw, that’s always the biggest thing,” Mills said. “I thought Rhiner Cruz threw the ball really well. I thought Bud Norris threw the ball well and Paul Clemens, too. Livan’s command of his pitches was pretty impressive. The guys are doing the things to get themselves ready. Today was a much better day. Guys knew better where to go and what to do.”
General manager Jeff Luhnow was impressed with Clemens, who came to the Astros in the Michael Bourn trade.
“He’s got a big arm,” he said. “We’re going to develop him as a starter. My philosophy for the better arms is until they prove to us they don’t have three pitches and don’t have command to start, we’re going to start them, and it looks like [Clemens] has got everything he needs.”
Let’s get right to the photos: