Terry Collins says Frank Francisco will be the Mets’ closer

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Several times in the past few weeks Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has avoided saying that Frank Francisco has the closer job locked down following a rough 2012, but manger Terry Collins said just that yesterday.

“He is the closer,” Collins said, via Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “We saw last year when he is right, he is good. I think he looks good. He is in the right frame of mind.”

Last year Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA in 42 innings, allowing opponents to hit .269 with a .791 OPS while walking 4.5 batters per nine innings, so “we saw last year when he is right, he is good” is some pretty strong manager-speak.

Francisco also underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow in December, but declared himself ready to go yesterday and made it clear that he’s confident in retaining ninth-inning duties. Of course, a better question might be how long Collins is willing to stick with Francisco should he struggle again, because with a $6.5 million salary giving him another chance as closer certainly isn’t shocking.

Brad Ausmus interviewing for Astros manager job

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I did the Handsome Managers list in December. Thought I had moved on. Thought I’d never have to think about him again. But here is, walking right back in my door: Brad Ausmus is interviewing for the vacant Astros manager job. So reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

Ausmus played for the Astros longer than he played for any other team in the bigs, notching ten years of service in two stints and playing on the 2005 NL Pennant-winning club. As a manager, you know, that he led the Tigers for four seasons and was the Angels’ skipper last year.

Houston has already interviewed Dusty Baker for the job. They’ll presumably want someone in place before spring training begins in a few weeks.