Results tagged ‘ manager ’

Biggio integral in Astros manageral search

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.”

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.”

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.”

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