Astros line up familiar names for manager
Garner, Melvin, Yost among 10 candidates set for interviews
HOUSTON -- The Astros on Monday unveiled a diverse list of 10 candidates they hope to get to know better within the next week during the first round of interviews for their vacant managerial position.
The list includes managers who have taken their teams to the playoffs, such as former Houston manager Phil Garner and former D-backs manager Bob Melvin, as well as those who don't have managerial experience in the Major Leagues, including Red Sox coaches Tim Bogar and Brad Mills.
The Astros are looking for a replacement for Cecil Cooper, who was dismissed Sept. 21 after two years on the job.
"It's obviously a great organization and great team that is committed to winning every year," said Melvin, who was named National League Manager of the Year in 2007 after leading Arizona to the NL Championship Series. "I know a little bit about them through my friend Phil Garner from years past. I'm honored to be considered."
Interim manager Dave Clark and Astros Minor League field coordinator Al Pedrique will be the first to interview on Wednesday. Former Brewers manager Ned Yost and Padres hitting coach Randy Ready will interview Thursday. Melvin and former Nationals manager Manny Acta will interview Friday, Garner on Saturday and Mills and Bogar on Monday.
Yost went 457-502 in six years as manager of the Brewers and was let go with about two weeks left in the 2008 season, a year in which Milwaukee clinched the NL Wild Card on the season's final day. Yost worked as a bullpen coach (1991-98) and third-base coach (1999-2002) under Bobby Cox in the Braves organization for 12 years.
"I think there's a lot of plusses that make it attractive to me," Yost said. "I'm very fond of the city, very fond of the ballpark. You look at their team, and I think they're just a player or two away from being a really, really good club again. There are a lot of things I can bring to the table that I can use to help make the organization better."
Houston has also been granted permission to interview Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, but that interview has yet to be scheduled because Philadelphia is still in the playoffs.
"We're excited about the entire group of candidates," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "All 10 candidates have a great deal of experience and are held in high regard throughout Major League Baseball. Clarkie and Al are great internal candidates and are very well respected both inside and outside the Astros family."
Garner, who has lived in the Houston area since he played with the Astros in the '80s, was dismissed late in the '07 season and replaced by Cooper, who served as bench coach under Garner.
"I like the Astros," Garner said. "I'm a hometown boy. I like the situation. I know the players and the front-office people, and I feel comfortable with them. I didn't have ill feelings when I was fired, and I don't think they felt ill feelings towards me."
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.
Following the first round of talks, the Astros expect to select a short list of finalists who will then meet for a second round of interviews with Smith, Wade, owner Drayton McLane and Astros president of business operations Pam Gardner.
"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 response to be," Wade said. "And we'll ask some direct questions about how they go about things in each of those areas."
Bogar began his managerial career in 2004 with the Greeneville Astros and was named rookie Appalachian League Manager of the Year after leading the team to a 41-26 record and the league title in his first professional coaching assignment. In 2005, he managed at Class A Lexington in the Astros' system and was named Manager of the Year in the South Atlantic League after guiding the Legends to an 82-57 record.
"First of all, I'm really honored they would consider me for the position and give me the opportunity, that's the foremost thing," Bogar said. "I spent four years as a player and two years in the Minor League system, and I've always been very fond of Houston and the way the organization is run, and Drayton and how he does things. Getting the opportunity to come in and talk to them about running the team is quite an honor."
Mills, 52, has been with the Red Sox since '04, working with former teammate and college roommate Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Mills was Francona's first-base coach with Philadelphia from 1997-2000 and managed for 11 seasons in the minors.
"It's an exciting job because of the city, the ballpark and the ballclub and success they've had, and it seems like it's an attractive job," Mills said.
Acta played and coached in the Astros' Minor League system for 16 years before 2 1/2 years as manager of the Nationals. Mackanin also has Major League managerial experience, serving as interim manager of the Pirates in '05 and Reds in '07. Ready managed for several years in the Minor Leagues and has known Wade since they were both with the Phillies in the early '90s.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.