Justice: Bagwell should manage the Astros

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Despite what Roy Oswalt has to say about motivation and all of that, the Astros’ problems run a heck of a lot deeper than Cecil Cooper.  But that’s not stopping Richard Justice from speculating about how installing a new manager will make everything all better:

The
first thing Drayton McLane ought to do this morning is telephone Jeff
Bagwell and ask him to manage the Astros for these final 33 games.

If Bagwell is reluctant, McLane can turn on that Temple charm. The Astros need a makeover, and this is a good place to begin.  If
McLane is thinking clearly, there will be a buzz back at Minute Maid
Park when the Astros return home next weekend. His bad, boring team
will become interesting overnight.

To be fair, Justice has some other suggestions too, such as moving Tejada to short, benching Kaz Matsui and giving a bunch of other kids a shot.  Not that that will help too much given the sorry state of the Astros’ system.  Bagwell  is certainly the centerpiece of Justice’s plan.

And I agree with him insofar as the kind of interest and excitement such a thing would create in Houston.  But I am dubious about whether it’s a good idea in a competitive sense.  There’s a sense out there that Hall of Fame types don’t make the best
managers because they aren’t able to teach players to what came to them
as easy as breathing. Maybe that’s baloney, but ask yourself: who was the last superstar, Hall-of-Fame talent that made a mark as a manager?  Frank Robinson, I guess, and that’s only if you allow for a rather loose definition of “made a mark.”  And unlike Bagwell, he had a lot of years under his belt before he was considered a somewhat solid manager. 

Ultimately, however, the problem in Houston is the roster, not the manager, and until that is addressed they can install anyone they want at the helm and it won’t make too much of a difference.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.