Newsstand Rumors

Astros Hire A.J. Hinch As Manager

5:36pm: The Astros have officially announced Hinch as their new manager. In a prepared statement within a press release, GM Jeff Luhnow offered the following praise for Hinch:

“I am extremely excited to bring in A.J. as our new manage. Throughout our process, we searched for a person with previous Major League experience, who could effectively lead our young, growing nucleus of talented players. I have no doubt that A.J. is the right person to do that. He brings experience as a Major League player, Major League manager and player development executive. His skillsets and leadership abilities will be enormous assets in our clubhouse and to our entire organization.”

3:31pm: The Astros have called a press conference to make a “significant announcement” at 5:30pm CT today, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart hears from a source that it will be to name the team’s new manager (Twitter link). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link) that A.J. Hinch is “close” to becoming the Astros’ manager, so it seems likely that Hinch will be announced in that role two hours from now. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick had tweeted earlier in the day that Hinch was still in the running as the search was narrowing.

Hinch, 40, served as the Diamondbacks’ manager for parts of the 2009-10 seasons, leading the team to an 89-123 record after being hired despite his young age (34 at the time) and the fact that he hadn’t managed at any previous level. More recently, Hinch has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the Padres — a position he left earlier this summer. Hinch was one of three men, along with assistant GMs Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr., to fill in making baseball operations decisions for the Padres following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes earlier this year. A Stanford graduate, Hinch has been called a “numbers guy” by some, so the match with the analytics-driven Astros isn’t a total surprise.

In addition to his time as a manager and in the front office, Hinch played in parts of eight Major League seasons between the Athletics, Royals, Tigers and Phillies. A catcher by trade, Hinch batted .219/.280/.356 with 32 homers in 1075 big league plate appearances from 1998-2004.

The Astros dismissed Bo Porter from the managerial position earlier this month and have leaned on former minor league manager Tom Lawless as the club’s interim manager. Lawless, along with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez were all said to have interviewed for the position at one point.


Twins Remove Ron Gardenhire From Manager Role

3:15pm: Gardenhire has been offered a different position within the organization, Ryan said at today’s press conference. Gardenhire says that he hasn’t decided whether or not he would have interest.

1:05pm: La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports that the “entire coaching staff is not being brought back,” though he does note that because the new manager will get to choose his staff, some of the current coaches could find their way onto next year’s staff (Twitter links). Presumably, that would happen if the Twins were to hire an internal candidate such as Paul Molitor or Terry Steinbach, both of whom were coaches on this year’s staff.

12:08pm: The Twins have fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, the team announced.  The 2010 AL Manager of the Year will be replaced following four straight seasons of 90+ losses, and the Twins will immediately begin looking for Gardenhire’s replacement.  The status of the other members of the Minnesota coaching staff will be determined by both the new manager and by Twins GM Terry Ryan.

Gardenhire, 56, has been with the Twins organization since 1988, first aMLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigerss a minor league manager and then for 11 years as the team’s third base coach.  He took over from Tom Kelly prior to the 2002 season and enjoyed immediate success, leading the Twins to three straight AL Central titles.  “Gardy” managed three more AL Central winners from 2006-10, though in all six of his postseason appearances, only won one playoff series.

The last four seasons have been a different story for both Gardenhire and the Twins, as the team struggled to a 265-383 record and finished in last place in three of those four years.  Poor roster construction and a lack of minor league depth was generally blamed for Minnesota’s problems rather than Gardenhire, though even in the winning years, he took some criticism for his lineup construction.

Gardenhire has an 1068-1039 record over his career, and given his strong pedigree and reputation around baseball, one would think he’d be an instant candidate for other managerial openings around the game.  The Rangers, Diamondbacks and Astros are currently looking for new managers.

This will be the first managerial search in over a generation for the Twins — since September 1986, Kelly and Gardenhire have been the club’s only two skippers.  USA Today’s Bob Nightengale predicts that either Terry Steinbach or Paul Molitor (both current members of the Twins coaching staff) will be the next manager.  Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo could also be an external candidate, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.

Gardenhire’s firing was reported by Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that “the word is not good” on Gardenhire’s status with the club, though the report was unconfirmed at the time.

Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports Images


Changes Coming To Reds’ Front Office

The Reds are prepared to “undergo an overhaul” to their front office, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  Several changes are coming to the organization, the first of which is vice president and assistant GM Bob Miller leaving the team.

Miller’s departure seems to be an amicable one, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that Miller is leaving to start his own business.  Miller, who has been working in baseball for over 30 years, originally joined the Reds in 2006 as the director of baseball administration and was promoted to VP and assistant GM later in the year.

Whatever changes are coming to Cincinnati’s front office, they won’t involve the man in charge, Walt Jocketty.  The general manager just signed a two-year extension to continue running the club through the 2016 season.



Rangers Notes: Lewis, Bogar, Chirinos

We noted earlier today that the Rangers would interview internal candidates Tim Bogar, Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele for their managerial opening. Here’s more end-of-season notes on the Rangers.

  • It sounds like the Rangers might soon re-sign pitcher Colby Lewis — Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram tweets that GM Jon Daniels and Lewis’ agent Alan Nero have recently exchanged texts, and Wilson says that the two sides might come to “a quick resolution.” Lewis, 35, posted a 5.18 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 170 1/3 innings this season after missing the entire 2013 season due to injury.
  • The Rangers have done well under interim manager Tim Bogar, but that won’t have a significant impact on whether the Rangers hire him for the permanent manager position, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest writes. “JD and I have already talked about it,” says Bogar. “It didn’t matter if I went 0-22 or 22-0. It was a lot more about all the other intangibles that go along with this job.”
  • Daniels says he does not expect the Rangers to be involved on key free agent pitchers like Jon Lester or James Shields, writes Andro. “I don’t expect a play at the top end of free agency this year for a variety of reasons,” says Daniels. “I also think there are going to be other ways to acquire quality innings in the rotation.”
  • The Rangers could stick with Robinson Chirinos as their everyday catcher in 2015, says Andro. Sticking with Chirinos might make more sense for the Rangers than, say, signing Russell Martin would — Chirinos was effective in 2014, and top prospect Jorge Alfaro could be ready in 2016.

2015 MLB Draft Order

Now that the 2014 regular season has come to an end, here’s the order for the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft. The order is determined in reverse order of regular season record, with ties being broken by record from the previous season. Teams are also compensated for failing to sign first-round picks from previous years. In 2015, the only team to receive an extra pick in the first 30 is Houston, which will get the No. 2 overall pick for failing to sign Brady Aiken this year.

Much about the draft order remains to be determined, given the impact that qualifying offers will have on the ultimate order. This year, the first 11 picks are protected, meaning that teams cannot lose those picks for signing free agents who have been extended qualifying offers. That means the Cubs, Phillies and Reds have protected picks, while the Marlins, Padres and Rays do not.

1. Diamondbacks
2. Astros (for failure to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken)
3. Rockies
4. Rangers
5. Astros
6. Twins
7. Red Sox
8. White Sox
9. Cubs
10. Phillies
11. Reds
12. Marlins
13. Padres
14. Rays
15. Mets
16. Braves
17. Brewers
18. Blue Jays
19. Yankees
20. Indians
21. Mariners
22. Giants
23. Pirates
24. Athletics
25. Royals
26. Tigers
27. Cardinals
28. Dodgers
29. Orioles
30. Nationals
31. Angels

Here’s Compensation Round A, which follows the first round. Unlike regular draft picks, Compensation Round picks can be traded.

32. Astros (via Marlins)
33. Rockies
34. Cardinals
35. Brewers
36. Padres
37. Indians

The Reds, Red Sox (via the Athletics), Mariners, Twins, Orioles and Diamondbacks, respectively, own picks in Comp Round B, which will come after the second round.


Rangers To Interview Bogar, Mike Maddux, Buechele

The Rangers will interview interim manager Tim Bogar, pitching coach Mike Maddux and Triple-A Round Rock manager Steve Buechele as they attempt to find a permanent replacement for Ron Washington, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram tweets. The Rangers will also interview “a few external candidates.”

It comes as no surprise that the Rangers would interview Bogar, Maddux and Buechele. At the tail end of a disastrous, injury-filled season, the Rangers have performed well for Bogar, which has already led to speculation that Bogar might be almost forcing the Rangers to hire him.

Maddux has said that he hoped to receive an interview for the position. He would likely return as the pitching coach if the Rangers hire Bogar (and, presumably, if Maddux is not offered a managerial job elsewhere). Buechele, meanwhile, has also interviewed for the open manager position in Houston.


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Marlins Extend Mike Redmond Through 2017

The Marlins have agreed to a contract extension with manager Mike Redmond through the 2017 season, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. The Marlins also tweeted the entire coaching staff will return in 2015.

The Marlins remained competitive despite season-ending injuries to franchise cornerstones Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, a fact not lost on the front office.

It speaks volumes of the job they did, just with the perseverance,” President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill told reporters (including MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro) prior to the announcement. “They’ve taken every blow they were given and kept on moving. I think that’s definitely a credit to the manager, and his staff, and the players in that clubhouse.”

Marlins President David Samson told reporters, including Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the extension was finalized prior to today’s season finale against the Nationals.

On this last day of the season, it’s the perfect way to start this offseason, making sure everyone realizes…our commitment to Red,” Samson said. “We knew we were bringing him into a situation where he was going to grow with the team and we’ve watched that happen. The team and Mike have grown in lockstep.

The Marlins are 139-188 under Redmond, who just completed the second season of his original three-year contract.


Brewers To Conduct Review During Offseason

Following an extremely disappointing ending to their season that saw them slip from first place to completely out of playoff contention, the Brewers will conduct an “extensive review” following the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. GM Doug Melvin is concerned about the team’s inability to stop losing streaks once they start, and about the team’s offense. That means that manager Ron Roenicke and hitting coach Johnny Narron could be under review, even though both are respected within the organization.

The Brewers had a 6 1/2 game lead on the rest of the NL Central in early July, but they went 9-16 in July and 13-14 in August, and they’re now 8-16 in September. Ryan Braun, Scooter Gennett, Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay have all struggled as the Brewers’ offense has sputtered in the second half. The Brewers were eliminated from the playoff race Thursday.


Rosenthal On Bogar, Astros, Brewers, Dodgers

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video on FOX Sports:

  • The Rangers‘ strong finish might almost force them to hire interim manager Tim Bogar as the permanent replacement for Ron Washington, Rosenthal says. The Rangers have gone 13-7 since Bogar took over. Their late-season surge also means they won’t get the top overall draft pick next season.
  • The Astros have talked to Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister about their managerial job, but Rosenthal says that most within the industry feel the job will go to former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.
  • Many within the Brewers are frustrated with their team’s collapse, although Rosenthal notes that the feeling throughout baseball was that the Brewers overachieved throughout much of the early season anyway, and that GM Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke should not be fired for the Brewers’ late-season troubles.
  • The Rockies could make some sort of change in their front office, and the Dodgers could even make front office moves if the team struggles in the playoffs, Rosenthal reports. That would leave the Giants as the only NL West team not to make a significant front office change this offseason.

Orioles Designate Preston Guilmet For Assignment

The Orioles have announced that they’ve designated reliever Preston Guilmet for assignment. In a corresponding move, they’ve purchased the contract of infielder Alexi Casilla.

Guilmet, 27, pitched 10 1/3 innings for the Orioles this year, striking out 12 batters and walking just two but giving up two homers and six earned runs. Guilmet, a long-time closer in the Indians’ system, has always posted strong numbers in the minor leagues, but hasn’t gotten a clean shot at a big-league job, perhaps in part because of his underwhelming stuff — most of his fastballs don’t top 90MPH, and he doesn’t get many ground balls.

Casilla tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter) that he thought his season was over, and that he had been getting ready to play winter ball in the Dominican. The 30-year-old Casilla hit .264/.315/.320 in 213 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk this year. He has not played since August 30 due to a hamstring injury. He is in the Orioles’ lineup today, playing third base.