Results tagged ‘ manager ’
Astros manager Bo Porter, who spent the previous two years as third base coach of the Nationals, was handing out handshakes and hugs Tuesday in his return to Space Coast Stadium — the Spring Training site of the Nationals — as manager of the Astros.
“It’s great,” Porter said. “I have a lot of friends over here, a lot of great relationships. It’s not like we’re being reunited. We keep in contact constantly and leading up to today. It’s great to be back and see a lot of these guys and they’ve got a good thing going on. It’s a good ballclub and they’ve got a chance to do something special.”
Porter took time at the batting cage to talk with several players and Nationals manager Davey Johnson, whom he considers one of his mentors. He also revealed he’s part of a book club with several players on the Nationals that stays in contact via email. In fact, Porter said the book club, which focuses on inspirational work, is more than 700 strong.
Porter, 40, was met by about 12 reporters from the Washington area and was asked if the chance to be a manager in the Major Leagues was everything he could have imagined.
“The energy has been great, the attention to detail has been great,” he said. “We’ve fallen behind and come and battled and battled and you see the intensity, you see the attention to detail and it’s good to see from a staff standpoint.”
Much more on Porter’s return to Viera, Fla., later.
Here’s the Astros lineup:
SS Tyler Greene
2B Jose Altuve
LF Chris Carter
1B Brett Wallace
CF Justin Maxwell
RF J.D. Martinez
C Carlos Corporan
3B Matt Dominguez
DH Marwin Gonzalez
RHP Lucas Harrell (0-0, 3.60 ERA)
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.
Tony DeFrancesco, who was passed over for the full-time managerial job, said Friday he’s glad to get the opportunity to manage the team for the final 41 games of season and hopes to be able to remain on the staff of incoming manager Bo Porter.
“I’m very proud of being an Astro manager and taking over the team,” he said. “I thought we turned it around a little bit. Our goal right now is to get to .500 for the month of September (Astros were 11-13 in September entering Friday).”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow informed DeFrancesco of the club’s decision following Wednesday night’s game.
DeFrancesco was one of four finalists for the job, which eventually went to Porter. He’s the third base coach for the Nationals and will join the Astros when Washington’s playoff run is over. DeFrancesco, who began this year managing at Triple-A Oklahoma City, will remain in the organization.
“They made the right choice,” DeFrancesco said. “Bo was the guy they wanted and there was no regrets on my part. No regrets on Jeff when he told me the other day that they were going to go with Bo. I’m real happy just to get an opportunity and now hopefully I’m going to remain in the organization at some point – we’re not sure what it is yet.”
DeFrancesco, who has a 1,235-1,088 career record as a manager in the Minor Leagues, would like to be on Porter’s staff. It’s unclear which members of the current coaching staff are going to remain.
“I would love to stay at the Major League level on Bo’s staff and that’s up to [owner] Jim [Crane] and Jeff and Bo to decide if that’s something available,” he said. “I think I do have the option of going back to Oklahoma City and doing the Triple-A team again to manage that. But there might be other avenues down the road for me if it’s somewhere in the front office or in player development or a special assistant or something that route, maybe that’s a direction I could go.”
The Astros on Thursday named Washington Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter as their 17th manager. Porter, 40, will remain with the Nationals until the playoffs are over and will then be charged with taking over an Astros team that will be coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons.
Porter held a question-and-answer session with the Houston media:
Q: Can you talk about what it means to get the job?
A: “I’m completely honored. It starts with Jim Crane at the top. He’s put together a great leadership team and am I just honored to be a part of that leadership team. When you look at the success in the organization, you have continuity from the top all the way down to the bottom. They did a thorough search and did a great job of doing their due diligence and going through the process, and I’m just honored that I’m the one they decided and were all in agreement I was the man for the job.”
Q: What excites you most about being a part of this team?
A: “What excites me the most is it’s a young group, but at the same time it’s a very talented group. Jeff Luhnow and his staff from the day in which he took over the organization, he has done a great job of surrounding himself with quality people off the field as well as on the field. The talent pool is very good and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing you here in Houston?
A: “I think the biggest challenge would be basically getting everybody on board with the direction and the vision the leadership group has put together. Jim Crane has made it very clear his goal is to build an organization that will have sustained excellence, and in order to do that you have to build from within your organization and start with the core players. It’s getting everyone on the same wave length, and I think we are all in agreement that message has already started to be delivered and we will continue to deliver that message throughout the whole organization.”
Q: There’s only 30 of these jobs. When did it hit you that you’ve got one of them now, or has it hit you?
A: “It actually hit me yesterday [Wednesday]. I talked to my wife [Stacie] after I finished meeting with Jim, George [Postolos] and Jeff and this is very special for her because my wife is from Houston, she grew up on the southwest side of Houston, she’s a Westbury High School graduate. So it’s a little bit, I guess you could say, more of a chill down her spine. I get to come home, we get to be at home, and at the same time she understands the dynamics of baseball and all that comes with the job because she’s been on this journey with me the entire time. To hear her respond and the joy in her voice really hit home of just how exciting this time is.”
Q: What have you learned from the Nationals experience that translates to what you will be having to do with the Astros?
A: “I think the biggest thing is you look around the diamond at the team we put out there every night and you look at Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detweiler, Bryce Harper, you have Drew Storen in the bullpen and Craig Stammen – you look at that and you say to yourself, ‘All those guys are homegrown.’ If you are able to grow your own talent and they get to the big leagues and they become core players, they’re level of commitment to the overall excellence of the organization runs a little bit deeper than players that may come from the outside or they come here from different avenues into your organization. That’s the goal and the commitment of the organization from the top down, that’s one of the things that driven me to this job. When I sat around and talked with the leadership group, our vision and our plan was dead on. We were on the same page.”
Q: What then will constitute success for you? Ia it wins, losses, or is it a measure of improvement within the organization?
A: “I think the biggest thing is when you start talking about the number of games you’re going to win and you’re going to lose, I tend to focus more on the process, and if you take care of the process, the desired results, you’ll get it much more often. When I speak to the team and we’re talking about… Everybody wants to win a game, so at the end of the day if you take care of the process you will [get there]. From the standpoint from the offseason program, leading into spring Training, all of our conversations from the team, from the players, is let’s worry about the things we can control. And we can control the process.”
Q: What have you learned from other managers with whom you worked, or if you could go back to Hayden Fry at Iowa [former football coach]?
A: “I’ve been blessed to be around some tremendous leaders. You speak about Hayden Fry. He is one of the people that had a huge impact on my life. Early on, I was 17 years old and coming out of high school, and had the fortune of playing baseball and football at the University of Iowa. Coach Fry, when it comes to attention to detail, he takes it to the Nth degree. That is something that I learned at the University of Iowa and has stayed with me throughout my playing days and definitely through my coaching days. Our job as a coach or as a leader is basically put our players in a position to be successful, to help them play to their potential. In order to do that you have to be prepared and you have to be able to give them the information that arms them to play at a fast speed and to have an opportunity to be success. The time I’ve spent with all the managers I’ve been around, from Jim Riggleman and Davey Johnson… Riggleman runs a great ballgame, and I had the fortune to spend some time with him as a player. He was my manager in Chicago and got some time to spend with him as the third base coach in Washington when he was the manager. Davey Johnson has done a great job here and the way he communicates with players, it’s something that they could be linked to, the players feeling a connection you have to have to a player that allows a player to play at a high level. I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good people. It would be a long list if I sat here and had to name everyone, but I’m one of those people that try to learn from every situation, good or bad, so I would say from the good ones I learned a lot of what to do, and if I found myself in a situation where it was something I didn’t think I would do, you learn from that situation as well.”
Q: How weird is thing going to be for you having this job and still working for the Nationals and trying to win a World Series with them?
A: “One of the great things about this whole process is that everybody was going forward with the overall objective here. We’re trying to be as courteous as possible and ask as any many questions and speak to as many people as possible, but at the same time I don’t want to lose sight of a major goal of this organization that I’m currently working with, the Washington Nationals. We set out in Spring Training and that goal we feel is attainable. We have a chance and out of respect to what our team is doing here, I am going to take as many questions as I can today, but after today when I get to the ballpark, my immediate focus goes back to the job at hand, and that is to do everything I can to be the last team standing to win a World Series championship.”
Q: Some people say you bring a football mentality to baseball? Do you agree with that, and what does that mean?
A: “Well, I think people that know my style, I guess intensity is a word that we use. I’m a passionate person. I’m passionate about going about my work in the right way, and I think that would be a reflection of our ballclub. When you want to do so something and you want to do it well, you need to do it with enthusiasm. And that’s something I’ve always believed in. I think enthusiasm is contagious. I think when you have those kinds of players on your ballclub, a player that may not project the same level of enthusiasm as the next person, that’s something as a team when you see an effort that your fellow teammates are putting out, it kind of makes you go to another level. When they look at me, I want them to see that energy, that intensity , that passion. It gives them a sense of this is how the game is supposed to be played and this is how we’re going to play it.”
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge in the move to the American League?
A: “I think the biggest thing is whenever you change leagues, just like for a player, there is a get-to-know-you phase where you’re trying to get to know the league and the league is trying to get to know you, but at the end of the day it’s baseball. Just like when you have Interleague games. The only thing that changes is when an American League team goes to a National League ballpark is that the pitcher has to hit. So my experience in baseball, being in the National League, I got to coach for many years, playing in the American League as a player, it’s baseball and you have to play the game regardless of whether you’re in the National League or the American League.”
Astros owner Jim Crane said the club hopes to wrap up its managerial search by the end of next week, but it could be a while before the team is able to announce its next manager.
Crane, who had several of his partners in his hometown on Tuesday for a board meeting, said the Astros have interviewed six candidates to become full-time manager and have two more interviews scheduled. Crane said the final two or three candidates could be brought in for another round of interviews, but some candidates have been ruled out.
“I don’t know when we’re going to announce it,” he said. “We have to figure out the schedule on that. We’re trying to get to a conclusion. It can be a little cumbersome because of the teams [that employ candidates] are in the playoff hunt and we have to be sensitive about the schedule.”
In other words, if the Astros decide to hire a manager who is currently on the staff of a team that makes the playoffs, they’ll have to wait until that team’s season is complete before announcing the choice.
“They wouldn’t come on board until everything’s over,” he said.
Astros president George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow accompanied the Crane to St. Louis, but it’s not known if they were planning to conduct any interviews while here.
“We’re not talking about who we’re interviewing,” Crane said.
What is known is Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar will interview for the Astros’ full-time managerial opening Wednesday in Tampa, a source told MLB.com. The Red Sox are in the middle of a series against the Rays in St. Petersburg.
Bogar will be the fifth known candidate to interview. Former Padres and Phillies manager Larry Bowa, Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco have also interviewed.
But Bowa is out of the running after telling Fox Sports he will not be the next manager of the Astros, saying he and general manager Jeff Luhnow agreed it’s a younger man’s job.
“Jeff and I both were under the understanding that long-term it should be a younger guy — we both agreed on that,” Bowa told the web site. “The interview was really professional. Jeff has his ducks in a row. It’s just going to take some time.”
Crane said he’s pleased with the pool of candidates the Astros have interviewed.
“We’ve gotten to look at some good people,” Crane said. “We’re doing a good job of seeing what we need, who we need and what fits best for us.”
Boston Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar will interview with the Astros on Wednesday at a location yet to be determined, a source told MLB.com. The Red Sox are in the middle of a series against the Rays in St. Petersburg.
Bogar will be the fifth known candidate to interview for the Astros’ full-time managerial position. Former Padres and Phillies manager Larry Bowa, Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco have also interviewed.
Bogar interviewed with the the Astros prior to the 2010 season. The club wound up hiring Brad Mills, who was the Red Sox bench coach.
Bogar has been on the Red Sox staff since the 2009 season and is a former manager in the Astros’ Minor League system. He began his managerial career in 2004 with the rookie-league Greeneville Astros and went 41-26 and won the league title. Bogar managed in Class A Lexington the next year and was named South Atlantic Manager of the Year.
The Indians hired Bogar in 2006, and he led their Double-A Akron affiliate to the Eastern League title and was named the league’s Manager of the Year.
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.
Craig Biggio might not be ready to throw his name into the team’s managerial search, but he’s certainly going to have a say in finding the Astros’ next skipper. Biggio, a special assistant to general manager Jeff Luhnow, is involved in the interview process to find a full-time manager.
“I’m honored and excited about it,” he said. “I’ve been part of this organization for a long period of time and they trust my judgment and my decision-making. I’m honored to be part of this process.”
With the Astros still undergoing a large-scale overhaul in their on-field talent, Biggio recognizes the importance of finding the right man for the job.
“It’s an exciting time for this organization,” he said. “You’re looking at getting a guy, a baseball man that’s going to lead these kids in the right direction and get them back to where we were before. Whenever you’re looking for a manager, you’re looking for somebody who’s hopefully going to be around here for the next 10 years. That’s the type of personality you’re trying to look it.”
Of course, Biggio played for seven different managers – Hal Lanier, Art Howe, Terry Collins, Larry Dierker, Jimy Williams, Phil Garner and Cecil Cooper – during his 20-year Astros career, so he knows a little bit about what it takes to be a successful manager.
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that go on when you’re with the manager and coaching staff and players and the relationships you have with them and relationships you have in the clubhouse and in the airplane. There’s a lot of things that go on, and we’ve had some really good ones over the years, and we’re trying to find a lot more.”
Biggio endured a rebuilding phase early in his career, with the club losing 97 games in 1991. They improved to 81-81 in 1992, 85-77 in 1993 and had a 66-49 record in the strike-shortened season of 1994. Beginning in 1997, the Astros won four division titles in five years.
“That’s how quickly it turns around when you have the right personnel and the right people and right leadership involved,” Biggio said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but when you have the right people in the right situations it can turn around quicker than the players think it could.”
Biggio has become a trusted adviser to Luhnow, and his presence is the interview room during the managerial search is much more than window dressing.
“I like this side of it,” Biggio said. “You’re a part of a team down here [on the field] and part of a team up there [in the GM’s box], but as an organization you all work together. When we all work together we’re going to be pretty successful, and that’s the reason why the years we had here when we had the second-best record over a 10-year period is because your ownership group and front-office group and field personnel and the team were all on the same page, and once you get back to that we’ll start winning a lot more baseball games.”
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.”
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:
Hometown: Jefferson City, Tenn.
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.”
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.”