Astros not lacking in skipper candidates

Astros not lacking in skipper candidates

HOUSTON -- There figures to be no shortage of candidates to express interest in managing the Astros, a position which became open when Houston dismissed Cecil Cooper on Monday after two years on the job.

Dave Clark, who was given the job on an interim basis after serving as third-base coach, will get a chance to show what he can do by managing the final 13 games of the season. Astros general manager Ed Wade said the club will conduct a search at season's end to find a full-time manager.

Phil Garner (2004) and Cooper ('07) were both named interim mangers during the season before getting the Astros job full-time.

"When I retired as a player, I got a chance to coach at the big league level for a couple of years and I got the fever," Clark said. "I decided after two years after coaching at the big league level I wanted to manage. I spent six years down in the Minor Leagues, four with this organization, and managed some of the kids that are out in the clubhouse right now. I feel honored to be considered."

One person who's already expressed an interest for the job is Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph, who said he would listen if the Astros called. The former Mets manager was a finalist for the Milwaukee managerial job that went to Ken Macha last fall.

Randolph interviewed with Wade for the Phillies' managerial job that went to Larry Bowa in 2000. He led the Mets a National League East title before being let go midway through last year.

"I think everybody knows I'm interested in any job," Randolph said. "I want to manage again. I won't actively solicit that kind of thing, but I feel like if they feel I'm a fit and they're serious about it, they'll give me a call and we can talk."

Former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta could also get consideration. Acta was a long-time player, coach and manager in the Astros' organization, leading the Kissimmee Cobras to the Florida State League championship in 1999. He served as third-base coach for the Expos from 2002-05 and later for the Mets under Randolph.

Acta, who served as Nationals manager for 2 1/2 years before being let go in July, is well-respected in the Astros' organization.

Former franchise icons Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell could also generate interest from Astros owner Drayton McLane. Both are special assistants to Wade, and Biggio is coaching his son's high school team at St. Thomas High School in Houston.

"I don't think it's appropriate to get into a list of candidates at this point," Wade said. "Obviously, we've spent some time thinking about making this change and what took place today. I'd like to go ahead and spend the next several weeks to lock down a list of candidates that make sense."

Citing time constraints, Wade said the Astros likely won't have a full-time manager in place until the World Series is over. Wade has some success hiring managers. He tabbed Charlie Manuel to manage the Phillies, and he led them to the World Series championship last year.

"There are a lot of decisions to be made," Wade said. "We had one decision to move on today and that was relieving Coop of his duties as manager of the Astros. We have a lot of other decisions moving forward, and we're going to use every amount of time to make sure we're evaluating candidates and making sure what we're doing is not for cosmetic purposes, but for the betterment of the Houston Astros."

Dale Sveum, who managed the Brewers for 12 regular-season games and four playoff games last year, could also be a candidate. Sveum played for the Phillies in 1992 when Wade was an assistant general manager.

Wade said Major League managerial experience wasn't a prerequisite.

"I do think experience goes a long way," Wade said. "If you're going to do this the right way, you've got to be open-minded. When you're talking about experience, is it experience solely as a Major League manager? Are you walking past some guys with great Minor League credentials who look like they're on the precipice of being outstanding managers in some fashion, whether they're big league coaches or Minor League managers?

"I think we have to sit down and take an open mind and spend our time researching. My friend Tal [Smith, president of baseball operations] points out that everybody interviews well. I'm not sure you get a lot out of the interview process, but if we do our homework we're going to make the right decision."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.