Astros extend Garner’s contract
One-year extension has Houston skipper under contract through 2008
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros announced today that the club has extended the contract of manager Phil Garner by one year, through the 2008 season. The club also retained five members of the 2006 coaching staff: bullpen coach Mark Bailey, hitting coach Sean Berry, bench coach Cecil Cooper, first base coach Jose Cruz, and third base coach Doug Mansolino. Pitching coach Jim Hickey will not be retained for the 2007 season. The announcements were made by General Manager Tim Purpura.
Since taking over as interim manager on July 14, 2004, the 57-year-old Garner has led the Astros to a 219-179 (.550) record. The 2006 Astros were 82-80. The 14th manager in franchise history, Garner has a career managerial record of 927-981 (.486) in 14 big league seasons. He previously managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992-1999 and the Detroit Tigers in parts of three seasons from 2000-02.
"Phil’s leadership has contributed greatly to our recent success," said Astros Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Drayton McLane, Jr. "Our goal has always been to bring a World Series championship to Houston, and we have come closer to reaching that goal under Phil’s tenure as manager than at any other point in the history of the franchise."
The 2006 Astros won nine in a row in late September, making up eight games on first-place St. Louis in eight days. The Astros were 10-2 in their last 12 games, and Houston finished 1.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central. Garner’s first two Astros clubs, in 2004 and 2005, reached heights not previously attained in franchise history. The 2005 club won the Houston franchise’s first National League championship, becoming the first Astros team to play in the World Series. The Astros defeated St. Louis in the 2005 National League Championship Series and the Atlanta Braves in the 2005 National League Division Series. That club was 89-73 during the regular season and overcame a 15-30 start to capture the NL Wild Card berth after a 74-43 (.632) finish. The 2004 Houston team went 36-10 (.783) in its final 46 games to make the playoffs, and also won the first postseason series in club history, defeating the Braves in the 2004 NLDS. In each of the last three seasons, Houston has finished second in the National League Central Division.
Garner is the fourth former Astros player to manage the club, joining Bob Lillis, Larry Dierker and Art Howe. Garner played for the Astros for seven seasons from 1981-87, driving in a career-high 83 runs in 1982. In 1,860 career big league games over 16 seasons from 1973-88, the three-time All-Star hit .260 (1594×6136) with 109 home runs and 738 RBI.
Bullpen coach Mark Bailey returns for his sixth season in 2006, while Cecil Cooper, a veteran of 17 Major League seasons as a player, returns for his third season as bench coach. First base coach Jose Cruz, who has been involved in all of the franchise’s postseason appearances as a player or coach, will begin his 11th season in his current role on the coaching staff. Hitting coach Sean Berry will begin his first full season and second overall as hitting coach. Berry served as the club’s interim hitting coach from the All-Star Break until the end of the 2006 season. Doug Mansolino returns as Houston’s third base coach for the third consecutive season.
Jim Hickey spent parts of three seasons as the club’s Major League pitching coach from 2004-06, assuming the post when Garner took over as interim manager on July 14, 2004.
Additionally, the 2007 season will be the 31st with the Astros organization for bullpen assistant Strech Suba, including one as a minor league player and 30 in his current role.