Congratulations, Brad Mills!

 

Brad Mills Gets Contract Extension.

Sometimes the good guys do win as baseball managers. When they do, it’s because they have more going for them than a simple reputation for being good guys. They prove by their performance on the field that (1) they know baseball and the array of choices facing every manager in all phases of the game; (2) they know their own strengths and limitations well enough to let need, rather than ego, determine the kinds of people they embrace as coaches to help them get the job done; (3) they have good people skills for dealing with all the various psychological stuff that comes up with the egos of ball players over the course of a season as managerial decisions get made that are bound to always displease somebody; and (4) in the end, they seem to get the most production that is possible out of the material that they been given to manage and direct.

When the 2010 season concluded, I cannot think of a single media reporter who wrote or said that Brad Mills should have gotten better than a 76-86 finish out of this year’s Astros club. Now this morning we read in the Houston Chronicle that the Astros were pleased enough with Brad Mills to have exercised their contractual option on his managerial services for 2012 and extended his contract for an additional year through 2013.

Nuf sed. His bosses like Brad Mills too. That counts for a lot, doesn’t it? When the man who owns the ink that signs your paycheck on a piece of paper that doesn’t include the phrase “another direction”, we have to be as assured as anyone can be in today’s marketplace that we are wanted. And Brad Mills is.

I personally liked Brad Mills’ constancy in dealing with players. He never seemed impulsive, but he did stay open to trying new approaches. He worked his available bullpen material well, but he also gave his starters a chance to pitch extended innings, when they seemed capable of doing so. He didn’t freeze on seeing people as starters, even if they weren’t performing – or as part-time utility guys, even if they seemed to be playing well enough to start. “Matsui out” and “Keppinger in” at second base probably are our best examples of this ability.

Although he may have had little to do in choosing Jeff Bagwell as Sean Berry’s late season replacement as hitting coach, Mills reaped the rewards of Baggie’s presence and influence upon improvement among players like Hunter Pence. Other less secure men might have been too threatened by Baggie as a potential job rival that they might have rendered him useless by the creation of a hostile reception to his joining the staff.

Not Mills. He benefitted from Baggie too. As did the club.

I could go on all day. From what I’ve seen, Brad Mills has the kind of fatherly aura that will allow him to work with the Astros’ younger talent in a teaching capacity. At the same time, he has the respect from his older players that allows him to make tough choices for the betterment of the team. He is not the kind of guy that will cast himself as either an authoritative tyrant nor a weak sister type who avoids conflict at all costs.

Brad Mills has the knowledge and the moxie to get this job done over the long haul. He’s not going to run over anybody to do it, but he will stand firm on what he wants and doesn’t want. All the Astros need to do is keep supplying Mills and his staff with the improved kind of young talent that has the potential for growing into the spiked shoes of a real championship club.

With Brad Mills at the helm, and with our increased attention upon young player development, I really believe that our long-time goal of reaching and winning the World Series is now on target as an accomplishable mission for the Houston Astros.

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One Response to “Congratulations, Brad Mills!”

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