At a press conference this morning, the Houston Astros introduced the manager that will take them through the rest of this 2012 season. Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco was promoted to helm the big league club for the rest of the season, while Ty Van Burkleo will be the interim hitting coach and Dan Radison will be the interim first base coach.
" As we've discussed, we're not happy with the results on the field, " Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We want to move forward, be as positive as possible and really have a successful 2013 and take the next step as an organization. We feel like we've made strides towards that with bringing these guys in."
The Astros will begin to select the permanent manager, in addition to filling the other positions immediately, but there is no timetable on the move. Interestingly, Luhnow also said that all three interim players will be back with the organization next season and that DeFrancesco will be part of the process to name a new manager.
DeFrancesco, for his part, has been with the Astros organization for the past two seasons after managing for Oakland's Triple-A franchise in Sacramento. It is the first managerial job in the majors for DeFrancesco.
"I'm really excited to be here, " DeFrancesco said. "I've waited a long time to get to this level and to lead a major league staff as the manager. We've got a great staff. They understand the philosophy and they know it's hard on the fans with the process we're going through."
Luhnow said during the press conference that he tried to lure DeFrancesco into the Cardinals organization for years when he was with St. Louis, but never could get it done. DeFrancesco also had plenty of good, Moneyball-esque things to say about his philosophy he learned while in the Oakland organization.
" Teams have success with pitching and defense, " DeFrancesco said. "I grew up in the Oakland era. It was very on-base, selective hitters that manufacture getting on base. Then, there's the potential to hit home runs. It worked for years. I believe that a young hitter at the minor league level that can figure out the strike zone and be selective, by the time they get here, they can be selective, get their pitch and hopefully hit it hard somewhere."
Van Burkleo was a minor league roving hitting instructor and comes highly regarded by Luhnow, as does Dan Radison, who has a ton of minor league managerial experience as well.
"(Van Burkleo) a tremendous hitting guy and we're very excited to have him here, " Luhnow said. "Dan Radison has been all over our system, so there's a lot of familiarity with this staff on what's here, what's down below. What we want to accomplish this year win as many games as possible and to put ourselves in position where in 2013 we have the best staff and best group of players we possibly can."
We know we have a very young team. We have quite a few players here who will play a part on next year's team, but we're not sure what role they're going to play.
The decision was made with knowledge and conversation with owner Jim Crane and the front office decided a week ago to not renew Brad Mills' contract past this season. Thus, the firing was expected; the timing was not.
"A week ago, we made a decision not to renew Brad for next year, " Luhnow said. "Once that decision was made, it made sense to make some changes and bring in some new blood before the end of the year. We wanted to change the mix a little and find some chemistry here. It's a complicated formula. On winning teams, you have the right mix and on losing teams, you don't. It's not one thing, it's a mix. That's why it wasn't just one change. It was three, to change up the mix."