Found August 19, 2012 on hardballchat.com:


The Houston Astros are continuing their massive overhaul of the organization by firing manager Brad Mills and two coaches. Hitting instructor Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meachem join Mills on the unemployment line. The firing itself doesn’t come as a surprise as no changes in Houston should come as a surprise at this point. The release of Mills follows the release of Bobby Heck as two major dismissals of people from the previous regime.

In the case of Heck, the change was not so much a firing as a non-renewal of his contract. Mills was in a similar situation as he had an option beyond this year. With each loss mounting quickly it became increasingly clear that he would not be back next season. So, the question came down to whether he would last the season or whether he would be released before season’s end. We got our answer on Saturday night.

The idea of firing Mills has little to do with whether it is his fault or not. It is clear that the Crane group on down wants their own people in place. Like with the Bobby Heck firing we looked at last week, the Astros have not performed well under Mills. Of course, like with Heck, there have been a ton of mitigating circumstances. The roster has been dismantled over the course of his three seasons in Houston and there was not enough talent at the upper levels of the minors to make up for the veterans that were traded away.

In firing Mills, the club will likely announce that Bo Pettini is the interim manager. Pettini came over with Jeff Luhnow from St. Louis and appointed as the bench coach. Pettini is almost certainly one of the candidates for the job moving forward. Releasing Mills at this point allows the club the opportunity to watch Pettini over the last 40+ games and see how the club reacts to him in the interim.

As for Mike Barnett and Bobby Meachem, it is probably more about clearing the deck then it is about actual performance. After all, what exactly does a first base coach do and how could someone be that bad at it? Barnett is a more interesting release as both the pitching staffs and the hitters have floundered this year. You don’t get to be 39-82 on accident. Yet, Doug Brocail keeps his job as pitching coach for the time being. However, if we look below we see what has happened between 2011 and 2012 offensively in key categories.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2011. . . . .2012

  • Runs. . . . .  . . . . . . . . . .615. . . . . .455
  • AVG. . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..258. . . . . .240
  • OBP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .311. . . . . ..307
  • SLG. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .374. . . . . ..374
  • HR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..95. . . . . ..105
  • BB. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .401. . . . . ..360
  • SO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..1164. . . . .1001
  • SB. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..118. . . . . …83

Keep in mind that the stats on the right are through 121 games. With 41 games left, it appears the Astros should score more runs than they did a year ago, hit many more home runs, draw more walks, steal almost as many bases, but also strike out more often. Last year’s team had Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn for a good portion of the season. This year’s team had only Jed Lowrie and Chris Snyder as established veterans and Lowrie has now been out a few months. Barnett made progress with this group no matter how you shake it out.

So, this just seems like an effort to start over with their own people. That’s fine, if you are going to be judged by the product on the field you at least want to have as much control as possible in every step of the process. As for Mills, Barnett, and Meachem, they are good baseball people that should find work elsewhere. Considering the Astros level of play lately, releasing them now could be seen as an act of mercy.

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