Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Justice's Managerial Front-runner

Richard Justice has a name at the top of his list:

Former manager Jim Fregosi is there, though Dave Clark, Manny Acta, Tim Bogar, Jeff Bagwell and Brad Ausmus are on his list, too.

He worked with Wade during six years as manager of the Phillies, was the manager when the Phils won the 1993 National League pennant and has remained close to him.

Ed would have to sell Drayton on the choice. Fregosi may be a little too opinionated and a little too profane for Drayton. He's also 67 years old and hasn't managed a big league game in nine years.

He has remained close to the game working as a scout and is held in high regard by people at all levels of the game. He was a six-time All-Star during an 18-year playing career. Perhaps the biggest selling point is that he would bring a toughness the Astros need.

Ed Wade and Tal Smith want an ingredient of toughness in the next manager, and they'll be closely watching to see how Dave Clark handles certain things these next two weeks.

For instance, if Carlos Lee doesn't run hard to first base, does he ignore it? Does he confront him? Does he remove him from the game?

There's a feeling in the front office that too many things were allowed to slide, and that the next manager must establish a way to play in terms of effort...

... This search should be the last one the Astros conduct for a long, long time. This is where the organizational chaos must end. They've had four managers and three general managers since the 2004 All-Star Break. No other team in baseball has had such change.

All these changes tell you is that Drayton McLane has seen the Astros as one player or one managerial switch away from being back in the playoffs. He saw his franchise for what he hoped it was instead of what it actually was....

... I'm absolutely convinced of two things. One is that Drayton now understands the importance of the draft and player development. The Astros have done an extraordinary job getting their picks signed and in uniform the last two years. It'll be awhile before we know how good the players are, but the early returns have been good.

Second, I don't think Drayton is going to talk about being a champion anytime soon. He may speak of it as an organizational goal and all of that, but he understands that the Astros have holes now and are going to have more holes next year.

The 2010 Astros are going to be significantly younger, but there's no way of knowing if they'll be significantly better. They may sign some veteran free agents, but there won't be any long-term, big-ticket signings...

...What the Astros need to do for the new manager is make a long-term commitment. They need to conduct a thorough search and then back the new guy 100 percent...

...Jeff Bagwell will be getting a call to judge his interest, but Dave Clark's six years of minor league managerial duty, gives him a huge advantage. If Bagwell were passionate about the job, he probably could have it, but I'm just not sure he wants it.

Tim Bogar will be getting a call too. He's the third-base coach for the Red Sox and a former Astro. Like Dave Clark, he's held in high esteem.

Mainly, this hiring is the start of a new day. It's not about a splashy hire or a popular hire. It's about making the right hire.

Ed Wade made two managerial hires in Philadelphia and got both of them right. Terry Francona and Charlie Manuel are among the top 10 managers in the game. If Wade sells Drayton on someone as good as those two, the Astros will be in good shape.