With new ownership in place and Jeff Luhnow taking over the general manager duties last winter, Brad Mills' days as manager of the Houston Astros have seemingly been numbered barring an unforeseen change in circumstances or a minor on field miracle. Neither have occurred this season for the 39-82 Astros, so after their 12-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night, the number finally reached zero.
Mills, who was hired by former general manager Ed Wade back on Oct. 29, 2009, was informed of the decision during a postgame meeting with Luhnow in his manager's office. He compiled a 171-274 record during his two-plus year run, and now becomes the fourth consecutive Astros manager to be fired mid-season, with Jimy Williams, Phil Garner, Cecil Cooper going before him.
Not exactly fun company to join, but Mills seems to be taking the not-so-unexpected news relatively well.
"I love the players, I love the effort they gave every day," Mills said. "They've been great to me and how they've gone about everything and I love our fans. The fans we have here in Houston are the best, and they've been great to me, as well, and I appreciate them an awful lot. I wish the best for the players and the fans as we move forward."
Along with Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meachem will also take the fall for a team that finished with the fifth-worst month in baseball history back in July, has won only six times in 35 games since the all-star break, and has 12 wins all season on the road. Brutal results, even for a team that shipped away 75% of their opening day payroll prior to the trade deadline as the first steps in their top-to-bottom organizational rebuild.
But that's not to say Luhnow or owner Jim Crane are placing the the blame solely on Mills or his staff. They clearly realize this mess Mills was asked to manage was created by those at a level above him and began to take shape well before he took over, which is why they're working so hard to tear it down and start over. However, in order for the rebuild to take the direction they desire, they have to a man in place who fits their vision.
Mills wasn't that guy, but as a baseball lifer, he obviously hopes someone else will see a fit for him in their future plans.
"It's what I do," Mills said. "I've been here for 33 years, it's what I do."
As for the Astros next step, they will announce their interim manager and replacement coaches in a press conference prior to Sunday's series finale with Arizona. And then all bets are off once we reach the offseason.
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