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Former Astros skipper Phil Garner weighs in on Astros, AJ Hinch future

Former Astro Phil Garner throws out the ceremonial first pitch for game one of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Former Astro Phil Garner throws out the ceremonial first pitch for game one of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images)


HOUSTON – What a week it has been in Major League Baseball, specifically right here in Houston.

MLB laid down the hammer on Monday on the Astros for their involvement in illegal sign-stealing during the 2017 season that ended with a championship.

Since the news broke, KPRC 2 has gotten reactions from many with close ties to the organization, including former Astros skipper Phil Garner, who spoke with KPRC 2 Sports on Tuesday.

Here is what he has to say:

"I was disappointed it was going on in 2017 because they were the best in baseball," said Garner. "I'm saddened. I know AJ (Hinch), not Jeff Luhnow well, and I'm sad for AJ. It's hard, but the owner has the right to do what he wants to do, but it was harsh treatment on AJ."

"A fine, suspension, not an entire year. Taking money away hurts," said Garner. "When you do a year, it's a knockout sentence in baseball. Take a year away in baseball; that's extremely harsh."

Garner was asked if these penalties and report tarnishes the Astros World Series title from 2017?

"Not for me at all, I watched that season and became a fan because of Jose Altuve. He's a hall of fame player. The Astros won because they were flatly the best team, and that's not to take away from Dodgers," added Garner.

Garner has read the report, knows the team broke rules, and there are consequences. But, he believes that the players also need to take ownership in their faults.

"I thought AJ took the high road by saying he should have done more to stop it. But Alex Cora let (it) continue to happen," said Garner.

"When you break the written rules, the players did that too and didn't stop it either. If you have good leadership in the clubhouse, they should say we've taken it far enough. Our manager broke a second monitor, so that signaled it's time to stop. Good leadership is needed. There was a breakdown here," said Garner.

So what is next for A.J. Hinch and the Astros? Garner had strong opinions on both.

"I think it will be tough on AJ and don't know what future holds," Garner said. "I can see organizations stay away for the year and maybe two. I would hope at some point teams say we need this guy because he has a lot to offer. I think it's important that people that are in management learn from mistakes. I don't think AJ will let it happen again if given an opportunity. It will make him a better manager. Give the guy a chance. His sentence is not a ban for life. I would hope he'd get another opportunity. He will be a stronger manager for it."

"The Astros need a GM and quickly," he said. "Spring training is in another month. They need a GM to come in and set the roster and can work with the manager. Typically, the way you do it is you hire a GM and let them hire a manager. Crane can do what he wants to do."

“In camp and on the road this season, they will get the same questions all the time,” Garner said. “(It is) important for the manager to tell the team we’ve been handed a tough sentence, and now we have to get over it, address it and be honest about it. When you put your baseball uniform on, it’s three hours of therapy. On the field, you don’t think about that stuff. Baseball takes you away from that.”