Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Astros Name Mills New Skipper

Brad Mills, who has spent the past six seasons as the Boston Red Sox bench coach and Terry Francona's right hand man, will now run his own ship.

The Houston Astros named Mills as their new manager today although Mills wasn't their first choice. The Astros intially offered the job to Manny Acta but he turned them down in favor of managing the Cleveland Indians.

Mills beat out former Astros manager Phil Garner (who guided them to their only NL championship in 2005) and Dave Clark, who took over as the Astros interim manager after Cecil Cooper was fired on September 21st.

I remember Mills when he was an up and coming prospect in the Montreal Expos organization in the early 1980's alongside Francona. Like Francona, Mills was injury prone and his playing career was over by 1983. Like Francona, Mills became a minor league manager. He managed teams in the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies organizations.

Mills returned to the major leagues in 1997 as a first base coach with the Philadelphia Phillies. The team was managed by - you guessed it - Terry Francona. Both Francona and Mills were let go in 2000. Mills served under Frank Robinson as the bench coach for the Montreal Expos in 2003 before reuniting with Francona the following year in Boston. In six seasons, Mills has gone to the post-season five times and has collected two World Series rings.

How all of this will be of help to the Astros remains to be seen. Winning depends in large part on the talent you have. Francona has a lot of talented players here in Boston. That wasn't the case when he was managing the Phillies. Needless to say, the Phillies have come a long way from the days with Tito at the helm. The Astros have the likes of Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Jose Valverde on their roster. Their pitching is a bit thin but that can be said of a lot of teams. It will be interesting to see what off season moves the Astros make. If nothing else he's being given the chance to prove himself.

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