From this Fan's perspective, the Astros dodged a bullet by losing out on the Manny Acta sweepstakes (for gosh sakes) and today named Brad Mills, Boston's bench coach for the last six years, as their new manager. For the story, click here.
Here is why the Fan likes this move: First, the Astros get someone who has been a part of a winning culture...ahem...unlike the guy that got away. Second, Mills has had a front row seat to one of the best managers in the business for six years. Francona is solid. He knows how to face pressure. He knows how to handle the media and he knows how to handle his players. And apparently, he knows how to delegate, a secret every good manager in any business, needs to have.
Francona's words speak for themselves: "I have given Brad more responsibility than I have ever seen a bench coach have. He totally runs spring training and he handles all the communication with the players." That my friends, is high praise. The best thing a manager does is give his charges the opportunity to succeed and have enough personal confidence to have his under-managers grow in their responsibilities.
The only question that remains is if Mills will have enough clout to help turn the Astros organization into one that mirrors Boston's. You may love them or you may hate them, but there is no smarter organization that Boston's. They just get it. Does that mean that everything always falls into place? Well, 2009 proves that it doesn't. But if you run your organization correctly, you never fall into the depths of hell and stay competitive throughout. And that's all a fan base can really ask for: a realistic chance to compete every year.