Six down, four to go.

The Astros have conducted interviews with six managerial candidates — Dave Clark, Al Pedrique, Ned Yost, Randy Ready, Bob Melvin and Manny Acta — and will conduct four more: Phil Garner and Pete Mackanin on Saturday, and Tim Bogar and Brad Mills Monday.

A lot of you have asked me who I think has the inside track and you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been hesitant to offer up much insight as to who might have an edge. There’s a good reason for that — mainly, it is impossible for me to size up the candidates during a 10-minute media briefing and tell who was the most impressive during his 2 1/2 hour interview session with the club’s decision-makers.

I like Clark’s familiarity with the current club and Pedrique’s wealth of knowledge and array of experiences in the Minor and Major League ranks. I like Yost’s credentials as a former skipper in the Astros’ division and Ready strikes me as approachable, smart and good with people. Melvin has an authoritative air when he walks into a room and obviously has the big league managing credentials on his extensive resume. Acta is hugely impressive, having managed Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Wandy Rodriguez while working his way up through the Astros’ organization. He’s one of those people you just like immediately.

Obviously, I have a bit of familiarity with Clark and Pedrique, since they’re currently working in the Astros’ organization. And we all know what Garner brings to the table, so no mystery there. I know Bogar well from his days playing for the Astros from 1997-2000 and later as a manager in the Minor League system.

The media sessions this week just weren’t designed to determine who would is best for the job. They were simply quick question and answer sessions that didn’t dig too deeply under the surface.

I will say this — it is my feeling that the Astros are leaning toward hiring someone with prior big league managing experience. If that is the case, then there are seven with a leg up: Clark, Pedrique, Yost, Melvin, Acta, Garner and Mackanin.

You’ve been following the search…who do you like?















Of the seven mentioned, Acta. But I’m sold on Bogar from reading other people’s comments.

Alyson I was wondering if it wouldn’t make sense for the candidates to spend some time meeting the some of the players since they’re the ones the manager is going to be interacting with the most? It seems like much of Cooper’s problems were with player interactions and to me it would make sense to avoid that by getting some of the players’ impressions. Do the players have any input at all in who gets hired?

My preferences at this point would be Garner, Bogar or Acta. I’d also like for them to see if Rudy Jaramillo is interested in managing. I would say the Astros should look at him for hitting coach but it seems like they’ve already made up their mind that Shawn Berry’s the guy despite the offense’s performance last year…

Acta, Melvin or Yost. I’m sick and tired of managers that don’t know how to manage a pitching staff and burn the bullpen up (Williams, Garner, Cooper, Clark). Acta would be my first choice at this point.

My mind is leaning towards Acta, but if Melvin or Yost were selected, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. My heart is still with Bogar, but I guess he needs some more seasoning.

Mike, to answer your question, I don’t think they players have any input, and to be honest, they shouldn’t. They’re paid very well to come to the ballpark every day and conduct themselves professionally and respect the manager. I’m not suggesting they’re not good for some input but overall, they need to stay out of it. That said, asking a Lance Berkman what he thought of Manny Acta when he played for him in the Minors can’t hurt.

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