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Winter Meetings interview with Brad Mills

Winter Meetings interview with Brad Mills

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Q. What's it like the Winter Meetings without a general manager, you're trying to construct a roster?
BRAD MILLS: Well, it's interesting, but, you know, Dave is doing a great job, No. 1, in my opinion. And then the new ownership has given him said, hey, do what we need to do? And of course he's given him some ideas and some framework to work from. And everybody is sitting in there is doing a great job. So from that standpoint, it's not that much different because he's just doing what he needs to do. And as an organization and the guys that are up there, the guys that are here, we're meeting just like we always have, and getting through things. And like I said Dave is doing a good job of running those meetings.

Q. What's it like for you, just with the uncertainty and not knowing who your bosses are going to be and what will happen just in the next little period? Just for you personally?
BRAD MILLS: Yeah, I don't think uncertainty -- you know, I'm really not focused on me. And so I haven't had that uncertainty. And what I mean by that is we're kind of working for the ballclub and the players and trying to get better. And it's nice -- our ownership has a plan in how they want to go about things and they've given Dave those parameters and that's where our focus is is using those -- what the plan, and putting that in focus and getting everything moving the way we want to do it. And it's really exciting for all of us to go through that. And as we meet in our meetings and as we talk about it, those are the things we're focused on. So when you start talking about uncertainty, I really don't have any of that because we're kind of focused on the ballclub and what we're going through.

Q. You'd like to add a shortstop. What are your thoughts on that position right now with what you have in house?
BRAD MILLS: Well, what we have in house, the Minor League free agents that -- Bixler, Hernandez, Angel Sanchez, we've got a mixture of guys there that we're hoping -- that we'd like to get a chance to look at. And again, one thing about going into Spring Training is really jobs are hope, and that's really going to create a lot of competition for jobs as we go into Spring Training, it's really kind of a good thing.

Q. (INAUDIBLE).
BRAD MILLS: Well, you know, here's a guy that when we got him he was a second baseman. We put him over to shortstop for a very short time. And he was adequate there. And then we moved him to third base, and then a month into the experiment of moving him to third base he's in the Major Leagues. So here's a guy that's had to learn to play at the Major League level against Major League competition, and in a new position. So I don't know if it's fair to him to move back there. So right now I don't see that as a possibility. Could that change, like in Spring Training or something? Sure it could. But right now we're kind of looking -- still looking to him to maybe be a third baseman and kind of go from there. But we've got C.J. there, as well. And we all know what C.J. did a couple of years ago and how good he was. And we see his work ethic. And he's back in Houston in the clubhouse and weight room every day to get ready. That's where all the competition comes in. And it's going to make for a lot of fun.

Q. Have you gotten the chance to spend time with guys in Houston?
BRAD MILLS: There's a few guys in there now. I'm not going to say it's a big contingent now as we get into the first month of the year, right after the break, Christmas break, guys start coming in a bit more. But, yes, I have gone through the clubhouse and watched these guys work out and talk to them and got a chance to visit with the guys.

Q. You mentioned competition at shortstop. What other spots in the field do you expect there will be some competition in Spring Training?
BRAD MILLS: You look at third base with C.J. and Paredes, you look there at center field. You have Schafer and Shuck and Bogusevic is doing a great job in winter ball, even though he's playing mainly right field. But in the outfield play, some of the six-year guys we signed there, too, also in the outfield with Buck and so forth. There's going to be a lot of interesting situations and guys competing.

Q. Where does Wallace stand right now?
BRAD MILLS: Well, he's going to be in the mix. He's going to get plenty of playing time in Spring Training, as well as Carlos. And we're going to kind of go from there. To put him in a box and say, you know, we're looking at this or we're looking at that, I mean, Carlos did a real good job at first base for us. There's absolutely no doubt about that. To say when he comes into Spring Training that he's going to be moved to left field, I don't know if that's fair for him or the whole ballclub. We're kind of looking at him for first base. What does that do for Brett Wallace? Well, let's see how Spring Training plays out and see how he plays. He had a great spring last year. And we'll kind of make those decisions as we move forward. But to say anything right now, that would be real difficult.

Q. Is there a change with Jim and George?
BRAD MILLS: Yeah, and it went real well. It was a good conversation. I'm excited about the plan that they have and acting on that plan and moving forward. They're not going to sit around. They're going to move forward with this. And with that plan in place. That's nice to see.

Q. The teams are building and going young, but considering you're not going to add any free agents, there could be a chance they deal with one of the veterans. How concerned are you about the ability to compete next year or improve upon the season when it comes down to wins and losses?
BRAD MILLS: Well, there's no doubt that always becomes an issue. But we've got a little ways to go before day one, through Spring Training. And there's a lot of things in the work here, right now. There will be a lot of things in place going through the non-tender situation. We've got the No. 1 draft pick in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. Yeah, on Thursday. So we still got a ways to go through Spring Training to see what guys on other clubs, make clubs, or whatever. So we're just kind of positioning ourselves to be ready to do those things as we go forward. Concern? I don't think concern really enters into it as much as we're trying to get as good as we can right now and then go from there. But when we're so far away from day 1 to say the concern is there, we're too busy moving forward with trying to form a ballclub right now.

Q. Are you able to make your push for bullpen coach or does that swing your way for a GM to be in place?
BRAD MILLS: I think the best way to go about that is wait for the GM and see exactly if he has any ideas. I've been talking with Brocail a lot about that, because it's so important for those guys to work closely together. Jimmy and Brett work so well together. We're going to give -- we'll put some names together and get those names together and when the new GM is here and the time is right we'll talk about that and move on from there.

Q. What do you expect from guys like Altuve, Paredes, Martinez, got their feet wet. Do you think there will be a comfort level with them going into their first season and going into Spring Training?
BRAD MILLS: There's going to be a comfort level there, no doubt, because they have experience. You look at Altuve and what he's doing in winter ball this year, can you put him in the ice box a little bit and we'll dethaw him the first week of April. So we're going to have to wait and see. But that's exciting. He's an exciting player. Paredes is an exciting player. They're athletic. They run extremely well. And what they can do with the bat is going to continue to develop because of their age. And we'll go from there. But is there a comfort level with them? I think there's a comfort level of they know the staff and we kind of know what they've done a little bit through Spring Training last year and through the period that they came up at the end of the season.

Q. Have you heard from Manny Ramirez? For a DH job?
BRAD MILLS: No, I've changed my cellphone. So, no (laughter.)

Q. You met with George and Jim, did you get a chance to talk about your job and where you go from here, job stability?
BRAD MILLS: We talked about quite a few things, a lot of things with the ballclub. And it was a very good conversation, and it was -- I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed getting the chance to sit and visit with them. And with them being so stinking busy with the GM search, they're excited about this ballclub and the city and everything else. And it was kind of nice to talk with them about that and kind of blend in with their excitement for this ballclub and organization moving forward. We talked about everything.

Q. How odd is it to you that Terry Francona, A, is no longer managing in Boston, and B, that he's going to be working in the media?
BRAD MILLS: Every time I talk to him now I say is this off the record or on the records (laughter.) I've always told him, too, that if he's on TV he might have to spend two hours in makeup just to be on TV (laughter.) But you know what, all that aside, you know how much I think of him and how great a job that he did there in Boston. And he's going to do a great job with ESPN, as well. You guys ought to know that even better than I do. It's pretty cool. And I'm thrilled to death for him to be able to do that.

Q. Were you surprised? Shocked? Neither? To see that he did his time in Boston?
BRAD MILLS: Anytime a guy like that that is as good as he is, of every facet of managing, when he's not managing at the Major League level, yes, because he's so good. Like I said, in every facet. When that guy is not in the dugout, yeah, you are a little surprised. But at the same time he's going to do a great job. As long as he's around this game, talking about the game, talking to people about the game, he's going to be okay.

Q. As long as he gets makeup?
BRAD MILLS: Yeah, an awful lot.

Q. A lot of managerial changes in the Central Division, too. You're only there one more year, but you're one of the senior guys, is that kind of strange?
BRAD MILLS: That's really interesting. It will be interesting to see those guys. I saw Dale just now coming in. He was real good, obviously, and Boston for our time there and we know him really well. So that's pretty cool. I'm thrilled to death for him.

Q. What are your plans for now and between Spring Training?
BRAD MILLS: Well, a lot of we're going to continue to try to find and put together the best ballclub we can. I'm going to be going back and forth a lot from Houston and our family ties over the holidays and California. But we'll be going back and forth and spending a lot of time both places.

Q. Is it fun to -- I don't know if fun is the word -- to see guys develop, young guys come along? Is that rewarding for a manager or would you rather have the old Boston teams?
BRAD MILLS: Well, you know, you try to dive in to where you're at. And right now that's where we're at is developing guys and getting them better. And that's spending 12 years at the minor league level and doing that, you know, you love it. You love what you do. Now in Boston that was neat, as well, being with Terry and going through that whole system and getting that experience. But having the other experience of being the minor league manager and developing guys and getting them better and putting teams together and putting winning teams together, there's a lot of excitement there. And with our new ownership the excitement is of building from within, that's pretty cool. And that's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. Do you think there's more pressure for a manager that has a good, established team, veteran team, as opposed to a guy in your situation right now? Is there more pressure where's the pressure there? Is it more than one guy or the other?
BRAD MILLS: The pressure is to keep moving forward and to make sure that you're developing these guys and getting them better. And you just don't throw them out there and say get better. There is a way to get better by doing that, but it might not be to the full extent that you want, working through the experiences that our whole coaching staff does. And our coaching staff does such a good job of teaching, that I think they're going to be absolutely outstanding. They work and teach so well that with these younger guys moving forward they're going to get better and that in itself is exciting.
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