Results tagged ‘ Manny Acta ’

Astros focused on four candidates

Now the second round of interviews appear to be over — with Manny Acta and later Brad Mills making repeat trips to Minute Maid Park to meet with owner Drayton McLane — the Astros remained focused on four candidates: Acta, Mills, Phil Garner and Dave Clark.

None of these four have been rule out by the Astros, who would like to get something done before the World Series starts. Major League Baseball frowns on major team announcements taking place during the World Series, which starts Wednesday. So it’s of no surprise the Astros could try to get something done before the Fall Classic.

Acta, the former Washington Nationals manager, is also a finalist in Cleveland, which could complicate matters. Mills is the veteran Boston bench coach who is looking for his first job managing in the Major Leagues. Garner and Clark are well-known to Astros fans, both having managed the team.

Garner managed the Astros for more than three years and led them to the World Series in 2005, and Clark was named interim manager when Cecil Cooper was dismissed Sept. 21. The Astros have ruled out neither of the four candidates.

Who would you pick to manage the Astros?

All the interviews and public press conferences are finished, and we know the Astros’ next manager will be one of 10 people. Some have extensive experience in the Majors, some have extensive experience in the Minors and all bring something different to the table.

The Astros were open with the first round of interviews, but now things change. Club officials are taking the search underground, with the next public announcement likely to be the hiring of a manager. GM Ed Wade has set no timetable and MLB doesn’t like announcements to coming during the World Series, so we might have to wait until November to find out who the manager is going to be.

No matter who the Astros pick, don’t expect a quick fix next year. The bottom line is it’s a broken roster that will take a few years to correct. There are too many older players — and  maybe even declining older players — making the lion’s share of the money without many young players coming up. That will change in a few years, but a new manager isn’t going to fix that.

What a new manager can fix is clubhouse chemistry. He can get everyone on the same page. He can get rid of the losing air that took over the clubhouse last year and get the Astros playing inspired baseball again. Let’s be honest. The final two months of the season, every Astros game was the same. They were down by five or six runs early and they’d hit into about three double plays. It was tough to watch.

I wasn’t in the interview room with Wade, president of baseball operations Tal Smith or assistant GMs Ricky Bennett, David Gottfried and Bobby Heck, so I don’t pretend to know how the interviews went or what they thought of certain guys. I can only tell you what I learned from my research about each guys’ background and what I heard in the 10 minutes I spent with the each candidate.

The Astros are definitely looking for a manager with experience, and I think we’re going to see one with Major League experience. After all, they want a manager who will relate well with younger and older players, and I think you need an experienced MLB manager to deal with star players. So I’ve broken down the candidates into three groups. The leaders, the contenders and the long shots.

Again, this is in no way indicative of what the front office is thinking, but it’s what I think. And sometimes I get things right. Now I want to know what you think. Who should be managing the Astros in 2010 from this group?


Bob Melvin: The Astros have to love the fact he managed veteran players to 93 wins in Seattle and a younger Arizona team to the NLCS in 2007. He seems to be the exactly what the Astros want.  

Manny Acta: No one in the group seemed to have as much knowledge about the Astros than Acta, who was signed by Houston at 16 and spent 16 years in the organization as a player, coach and manager. He’s young, bilingual and this would be his dream job. 

Phil Garner: The fact that Garner, the former Astros manager, even got an interview leads me to believe he’s a serious candidate. If anyone can rally a team and fire them up, it’s Garner. He’s been there, done that. Whether that helps remains to be seen. 

Ned Yost: He took a struggling Milwaukee franchise and led them to the playoffs as they got younger and better. Sure, he was fired at the end of the 2008 season, but that was his team in the playoffs.


Pete Mackanin: The lasting image I took from Mackanin was him walking off the podium after the interview shocked at how few members of the media there were in attendance. But he has tons of experience doing different things and was highly recommended.

Dave Clark: No one would be shocked if the Astros hired Clark, who got the endorsement of the players after his 13 days as interim manager at the end of the season. But I see him staying on the staff and getting another look during the next go-round. 

Brad Mills: Who doesn’t like Brad Mills? He has a great personality and has tons of experience as a Minor League manager and as a coach in the Majors. He spent six years working under Terry Francona, a person Ed Wade respects mightily.


Tim Bogar: Bogar is still young and up-and-coming, which could hurt his chances here. I think he’s going to make a good manager someday, but the experience handling star players just isn’t there.

Randy Ready: I just can’t see the Astros hiring someone with so much lack of experience at the Major League level when they have so many other experienced candidates. His time will come eventually. 

Al Pedrique: The Astros’ Minor League field coordinator knows the organization well, but will players listen to him?  


Closer look at Bob Melvin and Manny Acta

Day 3 of the Astros’ managerial search continues today when two of the candidates I consider the favorites come to Minute Maid Park — former Arizona manager Bob Melvin and former Washington manager Manny Acta. Both men told last week they were candidates and were looking forward to coming to Houston. Here’s a look at Melvin and Acta.

     Bob Melvin
     Age: 47
     Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.
     College: California.
     Most recent job: Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Managed the Seattle Mariners in 2003-04 and Arizona Diamondbacks from 2005 until he was dismissed on May 9 of this year after a 12-17 start. He won 93 games with Seattle in 2003 but didn’t make the playoffs and lost 99 games the following year. Melvin was hired by the Diamondbacks and led Arizona to the 2007 NL West title before being swept in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies. He was NL Manager of the Year in 2007.
     Minor League managing experience: None.
     Minor League managing record: None.
     Playing experience: Melvin spent most of his career as a backup catcher for 10 seasons with Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Kansas City, Boston, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. He hit .233 with 35 homers and 212 RBIs in 692 career games.
    Did you know: Melvin was hired by Arizona to replace Wally Backman, who was dismissed before he managed a single game because of past discretions?
     What GM Ed Wade said: “Once we started to focus in on some names and we did our homework and talked to people like Pat Gillick and [former Diamondbacks general manager] Joe Garagolia Jr., they thought he did a good job.”

     Manny Acta
     Age: 40
     Hometown: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
     College: None
     Most recent job: Manager of Washington Nationals.
     Previous Major League managing experience: Acta managed the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009 and never finished higher than fourth place in the NL East, which came during his first season when he went 73-89. Acta was fired July 12 after a loss to the Astros.
     Major League managing record: 163-254.
     Minor League managing experience: Began managing at 1993 with the Auburn Astros of the New York-Penn League before moving to Quad City of the Midwest League in 1997. He took over the Astros’ Florida State League affiliate at Kissimmee in 1999 and won a league championship and managed again at Kissimmee in 2000.
     Minor League managing record: 419-432.
     Playing experience: Acta played for five seasons in the Astros’ Minor League system and was a career .241 hitter in 370 games. He never played above the Double-A level.
     Did you know: The plane that crashed in 2006 that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into Acta’s apartment in New York? Acta was the third-base coach with the Mets at the time.
     What Acta said: “It is a very special organization to me. I spent 16 years of my baseball career over there. I owe them for shaping me into the baseball man that I’m today.”

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 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.”


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.