Is It Time to Fire Brad Mills? His Treatment of Jose Altuve Might Give the Answer
The Houston Astros made some exciting news yesterday. The good kind of exciting news. Not their normal kind of exciting news, and not the kind of exciting news that comes from a war-profiteer-who-has-problems-with-women-and-minorities-purchasing-the-team-from-a-doddering-old-man type of exciting.
Is it time to break out the #firebradmills hashtag?
No. This was legitimate exciting news. Exciting news arising from the Astros making a trade to a team not known as the Philadelphia Phillies. The trade, in and of itself, probably doesn't make that big a difference to this particular team. They didn't suddenly get better, and it's probably nothing more than a salary dump as Ed Wade sent second baseman Jeff Keppinger, about the only consistent batter the club has, to the San Francisco Giants for two middle relievers who will probably never crack a major league roster.
(Fun fact: This is the second time this season that Keppinger has taken the second base job from Bill Hall as, after losing his job to Keppinger and being designated for assignment, Hall signed on to handle second for the Giants because of injuries to Freddy Garcia.)
The exciting news, for Astros fans, comes from who the Astros have called up from the minors. And that person is minor league infielder Jose Altuve, a guy who looks to be no more than 5-foot-6 but who has, so far, done nothing in the minors but hit the baseball, and hit the baseball a lot. He was one of the stars of last week's Futures Game, and he's someone that many Astros fans have been wanting to see for a long time.
Of course, it's not known if Altuve will actually be able to hit major league pitching, so it's probably safe to assume that manager Brad Mills will treat Altuve as he does rookie Brett Wallace, sitting him a lot so as to help him keep him confidence. Besides, as with Jason Michaels, who often plays instead of Brett Wallace, one can expect Mills to play veterans Matt Downs and Angel Sanchez consistently so that they stay fresh.
"I can tell you he's playing second base tomorrow," Mills said of Altuve last night. "We didn't bring him here to sit him."
Wait a minute. What? Didn't bring him here to sit him? Is this the same Brad Mills who constantly sits Brett Wallace against lefties? It was my understanding at the trade deadline last year that the Astros brought Wallace here to play him, too. Just like with Altuve.
It's been my understanding that Wallace is supposed to be the future of the franchise. That he's the reason Ed Wade engineered the trade of Roy Oswalt to the Phillies so that the Astros would have the right players to flip to Toronto for Wallace. Yet he's sitting against lefties -- and like on Monday, against certain right-handed aces like Jason Marquis #sarcasm -- so that he can get the mighty bat of Jason Michaels into the lineup.
I'm excited to see Altuve play. Hell, I wish the Astros would bring up several more of the youngsters from AA Corpus Christi like J.D. Martinez and Chris Wallace. But the larger question, based on the treatment of Brett Wallace, remains. Is Brad Mills the right guy to handle a lineup of youngsters trying to learn how to play in the majors?
Mills's treatment of Brett Wallace has been so comical that it's inspired the twitter hashtag #freebrettwallace. Astros fans breathlessly await the posting of lineups each day so as to see if the future of the franchise is in the lineup, or if it's Michaels instead -- a guy who would be lucky to be on the AA roster of a good ballclub. And with the posting of the lineups, the fans also enjoy hearing Mills's latest excuse for not playing Wallace, like how Michaels hits a certain pitcher really good so it's a must that he be in the lineup.
So knowing how Mills handles Wallace, what's to really say he's going to treat Altuve differently, besides telling us in advance that he's actually going to be in today's lineup?
If the Wallace treatment does end up being what Altuve gets, then it's probably time to break out the #firebradmills hashtag because it's obvious this guy has no idea what he's doing when it comes to the young players. And since this team should be a lot younger next year, he's probably not who you want running things.
But then again, maybe the problem isn't with Brad Mills. Maybe it's with Brett Wallace. Maybe he's just not the stud Ed Wade told us he was. And if that's the case, then that's just another reason that Wade should be fired as soon as Jim Crane officially takes over the team.
Then again, who knows? But at least for now, for probably the first time this season, there's something to be excited about with the Astros. So welcome to Houston, Mr. Altuve. And may your stay here be a nice long one.