Results tagged ‘ Jeff Luhnow ’

Astros narrow search to 3-4 candidates

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.”

Luhnow meets with Bowa on ‘baseball related matters’

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 managerial search in early stages

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.

 

Astros set the 25-man roster

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):

PITCHERS (13)

Fernando Abad (L)

David Carpenter

Rhiner Cruz

J.A. Happ (L)

Lucas Harrell

Wilton Lopez

Brandon Lyon

Brett Myers

Bud Norris

Fernando Rodriguez

Wandy Rodriguez (L)

Kyle Weiland

Wesley Wright (L)

CATCHERS (2)

Jason Castro

Chris Snyder

INFIELDERS (6)

Jose Altuve

Matt Downs

Marwin Gonzalez

Chris Johnson

Carlos Lee

Jed Lowrie

OUTFIELDERS (4)

Brian Bogusevic

Travis Buck

J.D. Martinez

Jordan Schafer

Luhnow sends apology to Rangers’ Ryan, Daniels

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.

Astros get a look at more new pitchers

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:

Brad Mills hits rag balls to the pitchers.

Catchers lined up in the bullpen.

Side-armer Rhiner Cruz fires a pitch as GM Jeff Luhnow and special assistant Mike Elias watch.

Lucas Harrell throws a pitch with a bunch of folks watching.

Bench coach Joe Pettini hits a rag ball at the pitchers.

Lucas Harrell gets some tips from pitching coach Doug Brocail.

Paul Clemens fires towards home plate.

Mike Kvasnicka and roving Minor League catching instructor Danny Sheaffer.

Chris Snyder and Bud Norris shake hands after working together for the first time.

Carlos Corporan prepraes to swing in the batting cage.

Astros get Martinez from Mets

The Astros have won a waiver claim on former Mets top prospect Fernando Martinez, a source confirmed for MLB.com.

Widely considered one of the Mets’ top prospects from 2006-10, Martinez was billed as a power-hitting outfielder expected to be a cornerstone of the Mets’ lineup throughout this decade. But multiple injuries and an arthritic right knee have prevented Martinez from appearing in more than 82 games in any of the past three seasons.

The Astros would have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to make room for Martinez.

Forty-seven of those appearances have come with the Major League club, though almost exclusively as a reserve. Martinez hit .183 with two home runs during those stints. He hit .260 with eight home runs in 63 games for Triple-A Buffalo last season.

Report: Astros acquire Lowrie, pitcher from Red Sox for Melancon

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow made his first significant player move Wednesday, acquiring infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland from the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Mark Melancon, according Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

The Astros couldn’t be reached to confirm the deal.

The Astros acquired Melancon from the Yankees at the Trade Deadline in 2010 as part of the Lance Berkman deal.

Lowrie, a 27-year-old switch-hitter, would satisfy the Astros’ need for a shortstop following the departure of Clint Barmes in free agency. He’s a career .252 hitter with 19 homers and 117 RBIs in 256 games with the Red Sox since 2008, and he batted .252 with six homers and 36 RBIs last season.

Weiland, 25, is a right-hander who made his Major League debut last season and was 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in seven games (five starts). A third-round pick of the 2008 Draft, he went 23-31 with a 3.51 ERA in 90 career games in the Minor Leagues, including 85 starts.

Melancon, 26, could fill the Red Sox’s need for a closer. He pitched in a career-high 71 games for the Astros last season and was 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA and saved 20 games. He took over as closer in the first half of the season after Brandon Lyon went down with an arm injury.

The return of Mills makes sense

Despite all the changes the Astros have been going through in the last month, manager Brad Mills never really appeared to be in danger of losing his job. And deservedly so.

Mills, who will return for the final year of his contract in 2012, has two years under his belt as manager (132-192 record) and has seen the Major League club stripped and payroll dropped while the team stockpiles prospects in a rebuilding phase. Mills did a terrific job of keeping the Astros competitive in the second half of the 2010 season after losing Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and last season’s 106-loss campaign certainly couldn’t be put on him.

The Astros used 20 rookies last season, including starting second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Jimmy Paredes and outfielder J.D. Martinez, and had one of the youngest rosters in baseball, including an inexperienced bullpen. Mills’ mission has been to mold the young players and get them ready as quickly as possible while trying to win games, which is an extremely difficult challenge.

“Brad’s our manager,” new general manager Jeff Luhnow said Thursday when asked about his job status. “I had a good conversation with him, and I’m looking forward to working with him as our manager.”

Astros owner Jim Crane sang Mills’ praises.

“Brad’s a good developer of talent and that’s what we need,” he said. “I like Brad and I had a good time to visit with him and hear his input. We spent some time together [at the Winter Meetings] in Dallas, and Jeff feels the same way about him.”

Astros hire Luhnow as general manager

The Astros turned to their division rival and the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals for next general manager, announcing late Wednesday they had hired Cardinals vice president of player procurement Jeff Luhnow.

Astros owner Jim Crane will introduce Luhnow on Thursday at a 1 p.m. CT press conference at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

“We are very pleased to have Jeff as the new general manager of the Houston Astros,” Astros president and CEO George Postolos said. “Jeff is the perfect fit for the Astros because of his track record in scouting and player development during his eight-plus seasons with the Cardinals.

“The Astros strive to develop one of the best systems in baseball and create a consistent winner at the Major League level. Jeff has the knowledge, skills and experience to lead the baseball operations efforts at all levels and help the Astros achieve this vision. Jeff has a demonstrated the ability to inspire and motivate staff in the front office and out in the field. He was born and raised in Mexico and his bicultural background will be an asset in recruiting players from Latin America and developing the Hispanic market for Los Astros.”

Luhnow, 45, will take over a club in a major rebuilding phase. The Astros, coming off a club-record 106-loss season, are committed to rebuilding through player development under the ownership of Crane, who control of the club last month.

Luhnow has been a vice president with the Cardinals since 2003 and has overseen the Cardinals amateur draft since 2005. Many of the players that contributed to the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series title were drafted under Luhnow’s watch, including Jaime Garcia, Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Lance Lynn.

He added player development to his responsibilities in 2006 and was instrumental in the organization’s Minor League successes since that time, including the best system record in baseball in 2010 and five Minor League championships from the rookie leagues to Triple-A.

Luhnow has overseen the Cardinals’ scouting and development efforts in Latin America since 2004 that has produced Major League players and several top prospects. During his time with the Cardinals, the organization managed to build and maintain a strong farm system while at the same time winning at all levels, including three World Series appearances and two world championships.

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