ESPN's Jerry Crasnick's huge-a$$ profile of Brad Mills has a lot of words. Let's condense, and glean:
"He doesn't come in with a joke book or 100 baseball stories to engage his audience. 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."
Crasnick, on what the Astros need:
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.
Braves GM Frank Wren:
"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."
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.'"
I'll pour tabasco sauce all over my ice cream if it means a winning season, or at least a season that looks like the Astros are interested in playing in September. I will say this, where Blum and others have taken their opportunities to rip Cecil Cooper, Ed Wade had this to say:
"I'm not into comparing and contrasting. 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."
That's some class.