The Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham late Saturday night after falling to 39-82 on the season with an eight-run loss to the Diamondbacks.
Here’s the reaction from Mills after his meeting with members of the Houston front office, courtesy of MLB.com beat writer Brian McTaggart:
“You know when you’re having a rough season and everybody always brings it up, nobody lets you forget it. I love the players, I love the effort they gave every day. They’ve been great to me and how they’ve gone about everything and I love our fans. The fans we have here in Houston are the best and they’ve been great to me as well and I appreciate them an awful lot and I wish the best for the players and the fans as we move forward.
We’re going to move forward with some things and see what happens. The biggest thing is I’d like to go see my son play. For years, I’ve never really gotten an opportunity to watch him play and I want to see my daughter in law and see my granddaughter and watch him play a little bit and go from there.”
Mills’ son Beau is currently starting at first base for the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Florida. As of Saturday night, the 26-year-old was batting .269/.348/.503 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 48 games.
Mills, who turns 56 years old in January, had a 171-274 record in his three seasons with the ‘Stros.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.