Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nuggets from Justice

Richard Justice has a glass-half-full approach to the Myers signing. Some highlights:

On what he's like, you know, under the surface:
People who know him say he's a bright and thoughtful guy once you get past a macho façade. Be warned: he's capable of doing or saying something stupid at any moment.

On Paulino:
Paulino is the X factor in the rotation. He has worked hard to get himself in shape, and the Astros are hoping against hope he'll finally be able to harness that 97 mph stuff.

He'll be one of new pitching coach Brad Arnsberg's most important projects this spring. Wade is confident, too, in part, because Paulino is the pitcher other teams most frequently call about.

On the clubhouse:
There's no way to overstate how bad things got around the Astros last season. It was a losing clubhouse, and it extended to players such as Oswalt and Lance Berkman, who came to the big leagues when the Astros were among baseball's smartest franchises.

That's where Brad Mills enters the picture. His most important job as the new manager is to get the attitude back in a place that allows young players to flourish and older players to enjoy the game again.

Fans sometimes judge managers by in-game moves, but about 80 percent of their job is to get a good day-to-day effort from their players and to create the right atmosphere. Mills is untested at the big league level, but his résumé is impressive. He's also tough, smart, organized and every bit a first-rate baseball man.

Optimism abounds, even if it is January.