Manufactured Outrage At The Astros For Firing Their Manager

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What was the proper etiquette for Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow to do the obvious thing in making a change from manager Brad Mills? Was he supposed to let him finish the season just because? What purpose would that have served other than to put forth the pretense of…of…I’m not sure what?

There’s a reaction of anger and righteous indignation that the Astros fired manager Mills and two coaches after their 12-4 loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday night and I don’t know why. Barring anything miraculous, no one with a clue thought that Mills stood any chance whatsoever of keeping his job past his current contract that expires at the end of this season. Mills had been hired by the previous GM Ed Wade and as soon as new owner of the Astros Jim Crane hired Luhnow, Mills was on borrowed time. It was known and guaranteed. In that same vein, no one with a clue is going to say that Mills is responsible for the team’s record. So what’s the issue?

Had the Astros been better than what they are (39-82 and losing 5-0 today as of this writing with Tony DeFrancesco as the interim manager), it’s still unlikely that Luhnow was going to keep Mills. Having come from the Cardinals organization and having endless problems with their manager Tony LaRussa and being treated as an unwanted interloper by the old-school baseball people, Luhnow is going to want his own man who knows how the front office wants things run in the statistically-based way he prefers. You can debate whether that’s the proper strategy and I don’t agree with stats as the final word, but it’s Luhnow’s baby and he has the right—even the responsibility—to fire someone he doesn’t want in order to hire the person he does want.

I agree with what Luhnow is doing with the Astros in terms of field personnel. The organization was mostly devoid of usable talent at the minor league level and the few useful big leaguers they had were either older or were replaceable, so he cleaned out the house, accumulated young players, focused on high-end talent in the draft and now he’s dismissed a manager and two coaches because they weren’t going to be here anyway.

Luhnow did it respectfully and there haven’t been “anonymous sources” in the front office aiming knives at the back of a former manager when he’s dismissed. Keeping Mills around just to placate the press or for some other silly reason is about as bad as firing him now. Why postpone the obvious? Mills is getting paid as per the terms of his contract. Because he acquitted himself as a professional during these trying circumstances knowing he was a short-timer for a team that was tearing the whole thing down, he’ll get a job as a coach or front office assistant and has put himself in position to get another shot at managing.

This outrage is senseless and self-serving without basis.

What were the Astros supposed to do?

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2 thoughts on “Manufactured Outrage At The Astros For Firing Their Manager

  1. The controversy is that 2012 is the end of an era, it’s strictly now for the die hard fans that are left. They won’t like any new “AL Astros” changes until the “NL Astros” season is done with.

    The manager was also loved enough where they wanted to see him though to the end, no matter how bad he was. It’s a sign of organizational respect to let him finish out, considering that he was hired to deal with a lousy team with no chance nor expectations of winning.

    Sure it’s new owners and they will want to do what they want to do, but as a team with 50 years of history it’s not really all that respectful of a thing for an organization to do. It starts off on a bad foot with the fans. It could be seen as the Astros going corporate like the Yankees rather than lovable losers like the Mets.

    But then again, a few eggs just like this will need to be broken to make the AL Astros work. I personally don’t like the move, even though it was the right thing to do in a business sense.

    1. I don’t see the big deal, to be honest. Are fans not going to go to games because of the way the manager was dismissed? I doubt it. Once the team improves, the fans will come and this whole episode will be forgotten. And if Luhnow doesn’t do a good job in rebuilding the team in the next 3-5 years, he’ll be fired too. That’s the way it works.

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