Lawless sees great things in Astros' near future
Former interim manager believes club can take another leap forward in '15
HOUSTON -- When asked if he would like seeing a rematch of the 1985 World Series between the Royals and the Cardinals, Tom Lawless didn't have to think too long for an answer.
"I wouldn't like that at all," said Lawless, who managed the Astros on an interim basis in September. "That would bring bad memories back."
Lawless, of course, was playing for the Cardinals when they were beaten in the '85 Series by the cross-state Royals, though he played in only one-half of an inning in Game 6 that year. He's better known for his three-run homer off Frank Viola in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series against the Twins.
That was the highlight of an eight-year career for Lawless in which he played in 343 games with four different teams while serving in backup roles. He only hit three career homers, including his postseason blast in 1987 that left his mark on the St. Louis baseball landscape.
Since his playing career came to an end in 1990, Lawless has remained in baseball and this year served as manager at both Triple-A Oklahoma City and with the Astros in interim roles. He's awaiting his assignment for 2015, but figures to remain in the organization.
Lawless began the season as the infield coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
"I'm sure my other job is still there waiting for me," he said. "I'm fine. I'm all happy. My golf game is rounding into shape."
Lawless, 57, took over the Astros on Sept. 1 after Bo Porter was dismissed and led the club to an 11-13 record. He interviewed for the full-time spot, but the club hired A.J. Hinch last month. Still, the chance to manage at the Major League level was a dream come true.
"It happened so fast and went by so fast, it was a lot of fun," Lawless said. "It was fun being around the kids, especially because I knew a lot of the kids and we played pretty well. It only looks good for the future for us, and that's the important thing."
Lawless spent the first few weeks of the season as the interim manager at Oklahoma City when manager Tony DeFrancesco was on medical leave. He's served as manager, coach and instructor in the Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Padres and Orioles systems. He also managed team China during the 2008 Olympics.
With the Astros, he was the roving infield instructor in 2012 and managed at Double-A Corpus Christi (2011), Class A Lancaster (2010) and Class A Lexington (2009). He managed Oklahoma City the final two weeks of the 2012 season when DeFrancesco was promoted to the Majors, so he's familiar with Houston's young talent.
"We're going in the right direction," he said. "We were 19 games better than last year, and hopefully we're 19 more games better next year. We have a lot of young kids with a lot of talent and it takes some time. Take, for example, the Kansas City team. All those young kids they have over the past two or three years, they all get together and it takes time.
"As long as you're patient with the young kids, that's what we have going on for us right now and we're looking to do a lot of good things in the next couple of years."
Lawless is enthused about the Astros' future because of the potential of outfielder George Springer, who hit 20 homers in 78 games in his debut last year before injuring a quad, and the team's promising pitching rotation.
"Once you get George back in the lineup, there's a key piece missing for most of the year," he said. "He's an offensive juggernaut. He can do a lot of things offensively to help a ballclub score some runs. Our starting pitching was tremendous last year. If we shore up the bullpen and find a closer, if that's possible. You've got to win ballgames when we're winning in the seventh inning. It's hard to find. Hopefully, you can find one of the kids in the system that can come up and do that. There's a lot of positives going on in Houston with the Astros, and it's just great to be among them."