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Thread: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

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    Flash the leather! _Sir_Charles_'s Avatar
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    Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....


    With the Astros writeup (TRF's "rest of the central") I thought this might be interesting to some...

    Brad Mills truly prepared for Astros' jobAfter 22 years behind the scenes, former Red Sox bench coach finally gets his chanceComment Email Print Share By Jerry Crasnick

    Brad Mills found his little niche in baseball history on April 27, 1983, when he became Houston pitcher Nolan Ryan's 3,509th strikeout victim. The encounter pushed Ryan past Walter Johnson into first place on the game's career strikeout list.

    To this day, the competitor in Mills insists that the curveball that froze him for strike three was outside. Thankfully, he's not the type to engage in what-ifs.

    Brad Mills, 52, was named the Astros' new manager in late October, replacing Cecil Cooper.
    "He was going to get somebody," Mills said of Ryan. "I just happened to be the guy at the plate."

    Let the record show that Mills had his moments against future Hall of Famers: He went 2-for-6 against Don Sutton and recorded one hit each against Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bruce Sutter and Ferguson Jenkins. That's not bad for a guy who batted .256 (43-for-168) in four seasons as a Montreal Expo before blowing out his knee at age 29.

    The injury led Mills to retire as a player and jump directly into managing with the Cubs' Rookie League club in Wytheville, Va., in 1987. More than two decades later, Mills is one of those heartwarming "baseball lifer" stories. He's the guy who persevered long enough to land his dream job.

    In late October the Astros named Mills, who was Terry Francona's bench coach in Boston, to replace manager Cecil Cooper, who was fired in September after a turbulent summer at Minute Maid Park. The Astros finished fifth in the National League Central at 74-88, spawning numerous reports that Cooper had alienated players with his lack of communication skills and had "lost the clubhouse."

    General manager Ed Wade, understandably, isn't anxious to relive the circumstances that contributed to Cooper's demise.

    "I'm not into comparing and contrasting," Wade said. "Coop's a great baseball man, but things got rough from a win-loss standpoint last year. We're facing forward at this point and building off the strengths that Millsy brings to the table."

    Translation: The Astros think they landed the guy who can cure what ailed them. Does it matter that they took a detour or two on their way to the finish line?

    Mills wasn't at the top of the team's wish list when the Astros began looking at candidates. Dave Clark, who spent 13 games as interim manager in September, was on the list. So were Manny Acta, Phil Garner, Ned Yost, Bob Melvin, Tim Bogar, Al Pedrique, Pete Mackanin and Randy Ready.

    Wade knew Mills from their time together in Philadelphia in the late 1990s, when Wade was general manager and Mills was Francona's first base coach. When Francona called the Astros last fall with an endorsement, Wade wasn't quite sure what to think.

    "Terry told me, 'If you give Brad an opportunity to come in, you'll really enjoy the discussion,'" Wade recalled. "I almost took that as code -- that he was making the call as a courtesy because of their friendship. I talked to Terry later, and in his heart he knew what we would see if we gave Brad a chance to sit down and talk about his craft. He just didn't want to strong-arm us by saying, 'You have to hire this guy.'"

    The Astros signed Mills to a two-year contract after Acta turned down their offer and accepted the managing job in Cleveland. In 3 months since coming on board, Mills has won dozens of converts with his straight-talking, no-frills approach.

    Mills arrived in Houston in mid-January for the team's winter caravan and spent time in Temple, Katy, Sugar Land and other stops spreading the Astros' gospel. At several venues, Mills either had to answer questions about that record-breaking strikeout against Ryan or had to watch video of it.

    Mills spent time with Michael Bourn and J.R. Towles on the caravan; bumped into Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt at a dinner; and saw Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez, Brian Moehler and several other Astros working out at the ballpark. During each encounter, he quietly yet firmly articulated his vision for the franchise.

    The Astros' projected lineup and rotation for the 2010 season:

    Player Position
    Michael Bourn CF
    Kaz Matsui 2B
    Lance Berkman 1B
    Carlos Lee LF
    Hunter Pence RF
    Pedro Feliz 3B
    J.R. Towles C
    Tommy Manzella SS
    Pitcher Throws
    Roy Oswalt RHP
    Wandy Rodriguez LHP
    Brett Myers RHP
    Bud Norris RHP
    Felipe Paulino RHP

    "He doesn't come in with a joke book or 100 baseball stories to engage his audience," Wade said. "His message is consistent whether he's in front of crowds or he's having individual discussions with players.

    "I really think the players are buying into his program: Prepare to play the game the right way. Know that the manager and the staff have your back. But you're also going to be accountable."

    When Mills hasn't been traipsing around southeast Texas this offseason drumming up interest in Astros owner Drayton McLane's team, he's been home in Visalia, Calif., spending time with family and friends and throwing batting practice to his son, Beau, a former first-round draft pick who hit .267 with 14 homers for Cleveland's Double-A Akron team last season.

    Mills grew up in the town of Lemon Cove, a community of citrus groves in California's San Joaquin Valley. His father, Jim, managed an orange ranch, and his two older brothers helped work the fields while young Brad spent his spare time shooting baskets, hitting golf balls and throwing a baseball against the house.

    "I know that used to tick them off quite a bit," Mills said, laughing.

    Lemon Cove had a population of 180 when Mills was a boy, and it's exploded to more than 300 in the four decades since. Mills' parents still live in the house he grew up in, and his father, now 86, roams his 25 acres with his dog, pulling weeds, cutting trees and tending the sprinklers to stay active.

    Mills played ball at the College of the Sequoias before leaving for Jerry Kindall's powerhouse program at Arizona. He was a third baseman in the Montreal system and a teammate of Francona and Frank Wren, now the Atlanta Braves' general manager.

    Wren still remembers watching baseball's "Game of the Week" with Mills at the team hotel in Charlotte in June 1980 when Memphis manager Larry Bearnarth knocked on the door and told Mills he had just been called up to the majors.

    "We were both in shock," Wren said. "That was the first time I'd lost a roommate to the big leagues. We were getting ready to get on the bus to go to the ballpark in a few minutes, and Brad was packing to get on a plane to St. Louis. He was pumped."

    When Cubs farm director Gordon Goldsberry offered him a chance to manage a few years later, Mills never could have envisioned where it would lead. The road took him from Wytheville, Va., to Charleston, W.Va., with later stops in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Peoria, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Las Vegas, along with big league coaching gigs in Philadelphia, Montreal and Boston.

    He wouldn't trade a minute of it.

    "Those experiences are invaluable," Mills said. "You learn a lot about yourself and how you react to certain situations. Personally, I gained an appreciation for how the game is supposed to be played and how hard the game is. It took a while, and you don't make much money. But that's not a bad thing. Those experiences really form who you are."

    Mills has a lot of work to do in Houston. Last season, the Astros ranked 24th in the major leagues in ERA, 27th in runs scored and 29th in Baseball Prospectus' team defensive efficiency rankings. ESPN.com's Keith Law rates Houston's farm system as the 28th best in baseball, and Baseball America ranks the Astros as 30th and last overall.

    Oh yeah: Houston's Opening Day roster last year was the oldest in baseball.

    At least the Astros are getting younger. They plan to go with rookie Tommy Manzella at shortstop and Towles and/or Jason Castro at catcher. New third baseman Pedro Feliz's on-base percentage leaves something to be desired, but he'll combine with Manzella to upgrade the defense on the left side.

    If there's a better training ground than he got in Boston, I don't know what it would be. I think he'll do a terrific job.

    -- Braves GM Frank Wren on Brad Mills

    The Astros need Oswalt to improve upon his 8-6 record, Brett Myers to rediscover his old 200-inning form; Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom to stabilize the back end of the bullpen; Berkman and Carlos Lee to scare people in the middle of the order; and Pence, Bourn, Bud Norris and the kids to keep maturing.

    A decent start would also help. From 2000 through 2009, the Astros posted a .480 winning percentage before the All-Star break (427-462) and a .555 win percentage after the break (405-325). It would be nice if they don't play themselves into a hole by Memorial Day.

    As Mills prepares for his first spring training, he'd rather avoid the obligatory labels. He doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a "players' manager" or a "feel guy" or a "Terry Francona clone." Yes, he regards Francona like a brother. But he played under Dick Williams, Jim Fanning and Bill Virdon in Montreal, and they all left their mark on him.

    The one thing nobody will ever say about Mills is that he comes to the job unprepared.

    "If there's a better training ground than he got in Boston, I don't know what it would be," Wren said. "I think he'll do a terrific job."

    During a recent interview with his hometown California paper, Mills described himself as "a little bit vanilla." When his three kids came over to the house for dinner a couple of nights later, they immediately gave him the business.

    "They told me, 'You're anything but vanilla!'" Mills said, laughing. "Then they started listing things. They told me, 'You're more like Tabasco sauce than vanilla.'"

    Focused or driven. Quiet or intense. If Mills can bring a winner to Houston, it doesn't matter what people call him. Baseball fans in Houston might even learn to forget a certain strikeout in the spring of 1983.

    Insider info so I can't quote the whole articcle...
    A pitcher checks the rearview mirror

    Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Feedback | Print Entry

    Doug Brocail is not going to be elected into the Hall of Fame. He didn't set any records. He didn't make an All-Star team. He never pitched in the postseason. He played on some good teams, and some really bad teams.

    But I don't think anybody had more fun than he did playing baseball, before he made the decision to retire a couple of weeks ago. He called his agent, Barry Meister, and told him flatly that his career was over. No debate, no waffling, no lingering. "I wouldn't change a thing," Brocail said over the phone Wednesday. "I can tell you this -- you're not going to hear about me trying to make a comeback."

    For me, as a reporter who covered him for a couple of years in San Diego in 1993-94 and has since bumped into him from time to time, he has always been someone who is great to talk to. He loved baseball, loved being in baseball, loved pitching, loved the competition. He was always unpretentious, never made excuses, never blamed anybody, and if he was wrong, well, he'd be the first to tell you. He was loyal to his teammates -- even to those he didn't really like very much -- a trait that was easy to respect. As a reporter, you are asked all the time about whether you root for teams, and really, you don't; you root for stories. But you always hope for good things for good people you run across, and I hoped for good things for Doug Brocail.

    Everything that Brocail got, he earned. In order to pitch in 626 games in his career, Brocail endured more than a dozen surgeries, including two Tommy John surgeries, as well as a life-threatening heart blockage that brought him near death in the spring of 2006.

    Baseball has been like oxygen for Brocail; memories flow easily from him.

    .....must have ESPN Insider to read rest
    Last edited by _Sir_Charles_; 02-11-2010 at 06:32 PM.

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  3. #2
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Oct 2000

    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Now Harry Walker is the one who manages the crew.

    He doesn't like it when we drink and fight and smoke and screw.

    But when we win our games each day

    What the hell can Harry say!

    It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro

  4. #3
    '92 Les Paul Custom Az Red's Avatar
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    Gilbert, Az

    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Congrats to Brad, a fellow Arizona Wildcat!
    [I]There's Always Next Year!/I]

  5. #4
    Flash the leather! _Sir_Charles_'s Avatar
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    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Speaking of retirement, Glavine's just became official today as well. Considering how nasty that breakup was in the media, I'm mildly shocked that they got back together (Braves & Glavine that is)


    Glavine will work with SchuerholzComment Email Print Share Associated Press

    ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine made his retirement official on Thursday when he returned to the Atlanta Braves in a loosely defined new role.

    Glavine was hired as special assistant to Braves president John Schuerholz, and the two stood together before reporters for the first time since Glavine's unexpected release last summer.

    The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was bitter when the Braves let him go, but he said Thursday that any anger at Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren has dissipated.

    "I'm happy and comfortable with where we are as far as that is all concerned," Glavine said. "I talked with Frank, so that is all behind us. If I didn't feel I could work with Frank or work with John, I wouldn't be here."

    Schuerholz said giving Glavine a management role was not about making amends.

    "The motivation was here's a Hall of Famer, a guy who has contributed so much to this organization to help us gain the stature that we now enjoy," Schuerholz said. "Once he made known that he was interested in doing something in baseball after playing, it seemed so obvious to us and to me that he ought to do it with the Braves, so we began talking."

    Glavine was 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA from 1987 to 2008, winning 20 games or more five times in 17 seasons with the Braves and spending five years with the New York Mets. He was a 10-time All-Star, won the NL Cy Young Award with Atlanta in 1991 and 1998 and helped the Braves win the 1995 World Series.

    The 43-year-old former pitcher will work with Schuerholz on baseball and business projects, and he will occasionally assist Wren and manager Bobby Cox. Glavine also plans to work about once a week on the team's radio and TV crews.

    Glavine said his emphasis was protecting time with his family, including his five children, while also allowing him the flexibility to sample different jobs with the Braves. He expects to be in uniform during spring training in the major league and minor league camps.

    "I know I want to at least get my foot in the door with the game of baseball on the business side of it as opposed to being a player," Glavine said. "Quite honestly, I'm not sure what I want to do.

    "There are a lot of things which interest me, broadcasting being one of them, so this opportunity that we've come up with gives me a tremendous amount of flexibility to experience a number of things within the organization -- broadcasting, maybe some on-field stuff minor league-wise, a little bit of player development-type things and certainly major league front office stuff," he said.

    Glavine said his goal is "that hopefully sometime relatively soon I can figure out if there's one aspect of it I really enjoy and can focus on that in the future."

    Because he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008, Glavine will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in the same year that former teammate Greg Maddux becomes eligible.

    "If you're fortunate enough to go in the Hall of Fame, it's a special day," Glavine said. "If you're lucky enough to go into the Hall of Fame with a friend and teammate at the same time, that's even more fun. Certainly Greg and John [Smoltz] and I will forever be linked together, and if I'm fortunate to go in on the first go with Greg, that just adds to it."

    Glavine was released last June after making three minor league rehab appearances. The Braves were not convinced Glavine's arm was healthy, and Glavine said Thursday he continues to have soreness that will require rotator cuff surgery.

    "In my mind, when my playing days ended last summer, that was the end of it for me," Glavine said. "I never seriously flirted with the idea of pitching any more. I'm OK with that. Physically I wouldn't be able to go out there and do the things I want to do anymore, so that makes it a lot easier to walk away and focus on what you want to do next."

  6. #5
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Didn't realize Pete Mackanin had been on the short list for that job. Seeing the best interim manager the Reds have had in most of our lifetimes in that other clubhouse would have made losses to the Astros a bit more painful.

  7. #6
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Now Harry Walker is the one who manages the crew.

    He doesn't like it when we drink and fight and smoke and screw.

    But when we win our games each day

    What the hell can Harry say!

    It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro

    This is this and that is that.

    Long live the legend of "Harry The Hat".

  8. #7
    Flash the leather! _Sir_Charles_'s Avatar
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    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Add another retiree to the list. This one's a favorite of mine. Frank Thomas. Hall of Fame bound?

    Thomas to retire

    By Bruce Levine

    Former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas has called a news conference for 11 a.m. Friday local time at U.S. Cellular Field to announce his retirement.

    The White Sox are expected to announce at that time that Thomas' No. 35 will be retired this summer, according to major league sources. A source speculated the ceremony might occur Aug. 2, the 20-year anniversary of when Thomas broke in with the Sox.

    MLB.com first reported that Thomas would retire. Thomas, who played for the White Sox from 1990 to 2005, told MLB.com he spent last winter, as well as much of this offseason, thinking about his future and waiting for offers that never surfaced.

    The five-time All-Star is thought to be a strong contender for the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2014.

    Thomas, arguably the greatest player in White Sox history, holds numerous team records, including all-time home run and RBI marks. Thomas, who turns 42 on May 27, has pursued a career in broadcasting since failing to hook on with a team after 2008.

  9. #8
    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    At first, I hated Frank Thomas for forcing Tom Selleck to move to Japan, but after seeing how things unfolded, it looks like it was for the best. I wish him luck in getting to the Hall.

  10. #9
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Asheville, NC or thereabouts

    Re: Astros news...Brocail retires and Brad Mills new manager....

    Quote Originally Posted by _Sir_Charles_ View Post
    Add another retiree to the list. This one's a favorite of mine. Frank Thomas. Hall of Fame bound?
    I think a guy with the 15th highest OPS of all-time belongs in the Hall.
    "I can make all the stadiums rock."
    -Air Supply

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