Astros extend Garner's contract

Astros extend Garner's contract

HOUSTON -- In what will likely go down as the biggest no-brainer of the offseason, the Houston Astros extended the contract of manager Phil Garner, turning his 2007 option into a guaranteed year.

Managers have been rewarded with contract extensions for doing far less. In his two years as skipper of the Astros, Garner guided the team to the deepest points of the postseason, where no other Houston club reached in its previous 43 years.

The Astros made it to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in 2004, and in '05, they won the NLCS, clinching the club's first World Series berth.

Monday's announcement of a contract extension was a mere formality.

"This was a relatively quick and easy decision for us," general manager Tim Purpura said. "Getting to the World Series is obviously a good indication of how well your club's performed. Given Phil's leadership last year and this year, we certainly have a tremendous comfort level with his ability to lead this club. We wanted to express that to him by this extension."

Since taking over as interim manager on July 14, 2004, the 56-year-old Garner has led the Astros to a 137-99 (.581) record, including an 89-73 record during the 2005 regular season.

"I would hope that I bring a winning attitude, a winning approach ... a can-do approach to the staff and players," Garner said. "I can be supportive, I can be your best friend a lot of times, and sometimes, I would hope that when the hard issues need to be discussed, I can do it in such a way that players will listen and not turn off to it."

Purpura and Garner mentioned the importance of having stability in a front office.

"Continuity that you have in your baseball operations area is important," Purpura said. "Continuity builds a sense of loyalty, a sense of security. You don't have to wonder what's going to happen next. You know the people who are in charge. Hopefully, you have a dialogue with those people so that if you have a different opinion, you feel comfortable voicing it."

Said Garner: "We want to win and there's a certain way we want to go about winning. This lends more to continuity. People aren't going to worry about what's going to happen at the end of next year."

The 14th manager in franchise history, Garner has a career managerial record of 845-901 (.484) in 13 big-league seasons. He previously managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992-1999 and the Detroit Tigers in parts of three seasons from 2000-02.

The last two seasons have also featured dramatic late-season turnarounds that catapulted Houston into the postseason. The 2005 Astros were 15-30 following a loss on May 24, and subsequently went 74-43 (.632) to capture the NL Wild Card berth.

Houston went 36-10 (.783) in the last 46 games of the 2004 regular season, the best record in baseball during that time period and the best finish in franchise history. The 36-10 finish was also the second best in National League history from Aug. 15 through the end of the season, trailing only the 1951 New York Giants.

"We are very pleased about the performance of our team under Phil, including reaching the World Series for the first time in the history of the franchise," club owner Drayton McLane Jr. said. "It is an exciting time for the Houston Astros, and we feel Phil's leadership and efforts have contributed greatly to our success. We look forward to having him as our manager as we continue our mission toward a World Series championship."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.