Results tagged ‘ Tal Smith ’

Myers takes over No. 3 starter spot on depth chart.

 0112_myers_closeup.jpg

Brett Myers was adamant during his introductory press conference on Tuesday that he was taking nothing for granted, and that he will be trying out for a rotation spot just like everyone else.

But it’s safe to say that Myers, who signed a deal worth a guaranteed $3.1 million for 2010, with a mutual option for ’11 worth $8 million (a buyout is worth $2 million), was not brought to the Astros with an off chance to crack the starting five. Myers is here because he not only fills a big hole in the Astros’ rotation, but he can, based on history, contribute the number of innings that earns pitchers “workhorse” status.

Still, I do admire his humility. “I’m going to have to earn that spot,” he said. “It’s always been that way. I’ve always liked a fight, liked a challenge. This is no different.”

Assistant GM Dave Gottfried, who helped complete the Myers signing and was pinch-hitting for the absent Ed Wade, was a little more pointed with his view of where Myers fits in.

“We have Roy (Oswalt) and Wandy (Rodriguez), and he’ll slot in after that,” Gottfried said. (Wade is in Phoenix for MLB meetings, by the way.) “He’ll push the young guys and it would be great if he pushes Roy and Wandy too. The rotation just got a whole lot better.”

I spoke with Wade on Monday about Myers and the rotation in general, and it’s clear that Bud Norris, Brian Moehler and Felipe Paulino will compete for the last two spots. Other suitors for starting jobs include Yorman Bazardo, Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez.

Wade mentioned that he spoke with Moehler the night they signed Myers, and assured Moehler that nothing was set in stone and that he had not even begun talking with manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg about the makeup of the rotation for 2010.

Moehler, as expected, was not upset with the Myers signing. The exact opposite, in fact.

“He said he just wants to win, and that Myers make us a better team,” Wade said.

If Moehler is not one of the starting five, he’ll move to the ‘pen, where he can offer his versatility as a middle and long reliever.

Some random shots from Tuesday’s press conference, introducing Myers:

Myers with Asst. GM Dave Gottfried.

0112_myers_table.jpg

Tal Smith, Myers, Gottfried

0112_tal_myers_dave.jpg

After the formal introduction, Myers granted more personal interviews with reporters.

0112_group_interviews.jpg

Crowd shot…media and front office. In the front you can spot Asst. GMs Ricky Bennett (left) and Bobby Heck (right) with Myers’ wife, Kim, sitting in between them.

0112_media.jpg

Lots of photographers at this press conference.

0112_photogs.jpg

Astros are on Facebook

Follow Alyson Footer on Twitter  

Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com  

Hurry up…and wait.

1207_group.jpg

above, l to r: club president/baseball operations Tal Smith; assistant GM/scouting Bobby Heck; GM Ed Wade; Minor League Field Coordinator Dick Scott, Asst. GM Ricky Bennett. The group was reviewing the dry erase boards, consisting of lists of players both inside and outside of the organization.

I just spent a couple of hours in general manager Ed Wade’s suite, where most of the morning and early afternoon were spent making lists of discussion topics for a full staff meeting, due to start around 4.

Right now, the main activity is making lists, lists and more lists. Lists of players outside the organization who might be of interest to the Astros, either via free agency or trade market.

Lists of players within the organization that might be considered as trade bait. Lists of Minor Leaguers considered untouchable.

As Brian McTaggart noted in his Winter Meetings preview, relief pitching, third base and bench help are among the Astros’ needs.

At this point, the Astros are simply waiting to hear what decision Jose Valverde has made regarding the Astros’ offer of arbitration. He has until midnight ET tonight at accept or reject.

The Astros are in a good position on this one — if Valverde accepts, they’ll have arguably the best free agent closer in uniform next year. If he rejects, the Astros can still negotiate with him, and if Valverde signs with another team, they’ll get high draft picks.

A Valverde rejection would also give the Astros some payroll to play with, which is significant considering how little flexibility the Astros have in that area this offseason.

Manager Brad Mills is in town, and I believe he’ll be the only uniformed personnel with Wade this week at the Winter Meetings. Every manager is asked to conduct a 30-minute media session in the press workroom this week, and Mills is scheduled to do so on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

1207_tal_mills.jpg

Tal Smith, Brad Mills, Ricky Bennett

Asst. GM Dave Gottfried

The art of the press conference, and a few Mills tidbits.

1027_jersey_three.jpg

Once I learned that Brad Mills was hired as the Astros manager,I reached out to two good friends who have covered the Red Sox for parts or all of the last decade and asked them simply, “What do you think of Brad Mills?” Here’s what I received back:

Friend No. 1:
“Mills is a genuinely nice guy and he did an amazing job turning the Sox into such a well-run machine. He’s so efficient at everything he does. He’s not a great quote but he’s friendly and respectful. He’s the ultimate taskmaster.”

Friend No. 2:
“Tremendously organized. Probably the most organized coach I’ve ever been around. He had basically every day of Spring Training plotted out weeks in advance of camp, with charts on where everyone is at all times.

“He was a big help to Francona on the bench, helping pitchers with pickoff moves, etc., and aligning the defense, etc. He had great communication skills with the players and has been Francona’s confidant since their days as roommates at Arizona.

“I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about Brad Mills. And being around Francona on the Red Sox bench for the last six years can only help from an experience standpoint.”

Two things stood out to me from these responses: 1) both said Mills was incredibly organized and 2) Friend No. 2 pointed out that Mills is good at aligning defenses. And can I just say, hallelujah on both counts. The Astros are already better off in ’10 than they were in ’09, and they’re more than five months away from playing a game that counts in the standings.

I’ve heard from many of you over the last couple of weeks, and please allow me clear up a few misconceptions: coaches are responsible for much, much more than what you see them do during an actual game. Scouting reports need to be scoured. Spray charts need to be studied. Pitchers and catchers need to be prepped. And on and on and on.

Positioning has been an issue with this team for a long time — too long. Just hearing that Mills had a lot to do with aligning the Red Sox’ defense makes me feel like the Astros are on the right track. It seems like such a small thing, I know. But it’s not. It’s huge. Manager and coach pregame preparation can make all the difference between and winning and losing seasons.

Here’s what Red Sox manager Terry Francona said about his now former bench coach:

“I’ve probably taken it for granted that everybody is where they’re supposed to be because he’s so good at it. We’ll certainly have to make some adjustments. But his gain far outweighs any adjustments we have to make. Millsy embodies so much of what is good in baseball. For him to get an opportunity, it sure is nice. It sure is exciting for all of us.”

I have no idea what kind of manager Mills will be and until he’s actually sitting in the hot seat, none of us can make the judgment. But he was impressive during his press conference on Tuesday and I’m looking forward to seeing how he guides this team through a challenging transitional period.

_____________________

On another note, I haven’t seen the press conference room at Minute Maid Park this packed since Roger Clemens unretired for the 97th time a few years ago. When I saw Drayton McLane in the hallway a few minutes before the press conference started, I jokingly said, “Congratulations on getting this over with before the World Series.” He laughed and said the Commissioner called him three times — twice Monday and once Tuesday morning. “He said, ‘You have until 5 p.m. (Tuesday) to get this done,’” McLane recalled. That was the deadline — hire a manager by then, or wait until after the World Series. The former reporter in me was thankful this thing was over and done with.

I’m sure most of you have watched the press conference on TV or online in some capacity. Sound bites are nice and photo opps are fun, but that doesn’t give you the full experience. Here are some images from Tuesday’s presser, some of which you won’t normally see just by watching from afar. Enjoy.

_____________

The media waited inside the press conference room, but outside, Mills and several members of the front office chatted casually before entering the room. Kudos to Mills (seen here with assistant GM Ricky Bennett) for acting naturally as three or four photographers snapped close up photos.

1027_mills_bennett.jpg

A little to the left of Mills stood owner Drayton McLane and GM Ed Wade.

1027_drayton_ed.jpg

PR director Gene Dias (middle) gives the gentle, “OK, we’re ready” signal, which is a nice way of telling the group, let’s go. Time to start the presser.

1027_wade_gene_mills.jpg

The normal order of speakers at a major Astros press conference is 1)Wade; 2)McLane and 3) whoever they hired/signed. This announcement was obviously a big one, hence, the packed room. That’s Larry Dierker in the front.

1027_packed_room.jpg

Mills came across very well at the press conference. When he was asked to hold up the jersey again, he held up the front instead of back. “The name on the front is more important than the name on the back,” he said. Good move.

1027_mills_podium.jpg

Once each speaker has answered questions at the podium, the formal part of the presser is over and it’s time for “one-on-ones.” TVs like this because it gives more of a personal touch. Beat/print reporters like this because they need more quotes than just what is said during the formal part.

Reporters headed in three directions — most went to Mills, some went to Wade, some went to McLane. It’s a media free-for-all.

1027_one_on_one.jpg

1027_ed_oneonone.jpg

1027_drayton_one.jpg

Once word spread that hitting coach Sean Berry and Mills are friends and neighbors in California, Berry became a media target. Berry happened to be in town for a Make-A-Wish golf tournament (which was rained out Monday and rescheduled for November).

1027_sean.jpg

Nothing like a press conference to bring a couple of former Astros greats to the ballpark. Left, Enos Cabell. Right, Larry Dierker.

1027_enos_dirk.jpg

Photo opp No. 477: Mills checks out the field at Minute Maid Park. Photographers document every move while trying not to step on anyone.

1027_onfield1.jpg

Mills and Wade have a chuckle while getting situated:

1027_mills_ed_field.jpg

Tal Smith (left), Mills, Wade

1027_three_field.jpg

Then McLane joins in.

1027_foursome_field.jpg

Side view.

1027_field_camera.jpg

 Astros are on Facebook

Follow Alyson Footer on Twitter  

Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 249 other followers