Astros General Manager Tim Purpura enters his third season in his current role and his 14th year overall as a member
of the organization. He was named the 10th general manager in franchise history on Nov 1, 2004, after seven seasons
overseeing the club’s player development areas, while also fulfilling his duties as assistant general manager.
Tim’s first team as general manager was the most successful in club history, as the 2005 Astros won the National League Championship and appeared in the World Series for the first time. The Astros have also made the playoffs in six of the last 10 seasons, and all six of those clubs received significant contributions from players developed in the Astros system under his watch as farm director.
Tim made several moves to strengthen the club’s championship chances during the 2006-07 off-season, including the signing of All-Star outfielder Carlos Lee in November. One of the premier sluggers in the game today, Lee has hit 30 home runs in each of the last four seasons while also averaging more than 110 RBI per year from 2003-06. Tim and the Astros signed Lee to a six-year contract that will have the All-Star outfielder in an Astros uniform through the 2012 season.
Also this off-season, Tim also traded for Colorado right-hander Jason Jennings, a rotation workhorse who is the winningest pitcher in both Rockies franchise and Coors Field history. The club also signed Houston native and veteran righthander Woody Williams, who has more wins at Minute Maid Park than any other visiting pitcher in the ballpark’s history with nine. Tim also bolstered the 2007 Astros with the signing of 2006 American League All-Star Mark Loretta in January.
Additionally, Tim has also signed two of the franchise’s best players to long-term contracts during his tenure. Before the 2005 season, four-time All-Star Lance Berkman signed a five-year extension through the 2010 season. In August 2006, two-time All-Star and two-time 20-game winner Roy Oswalt signed a five-year extension through the 2011 season. Oswalt won the 2006 NL ERA title.
The 2006 Astros made an exciting charge in the final two weeks of the season, winning nine games in a row and 10 of their last 12 to fall just short of the playoffs. Tim added a strong left-handed bat in Tampa Bay slugger Aubrey Huff at the All-Star Break. Huff’s 13 home runs were the most by a left-handed hitter in the second half in Houston franchise history. Additionally, Tim recalled Luke Scott from Triple A Round Rock at the All-Star Break, who went on to hit 336, the second-best total for any Major League rookie in the second half of the 2006 season.
Tim’s faith in the 2005 team, which featured many young players early in their big league careers, was tested when the club started 15-30 through its first 45 games. Tim’s belief in the club prevented him from dismantling it and trading away veteran players, and the reward was a remarkable run that made the 2005 Astros the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to reach the postseason after being as many as 15 games below .500 at one point during the season. The 2005 Astros would have a greater legacy as well, becoming the first team in franchise history to win the National League and advance to the World Series.
From Oct 24, 1997 until being named general manager, Tim directed the operation of the club’s player development system and six minor league affiliates. He also assisted with all aspects of Major League operations, including player trades and free-agent acquisitions, contract negotiations and coordination of Major League scouting efforts. Beginning with the 2003 season, he added responsibility for supervision of the Astros operations in the Dominican Republic.
After assuming the general manager post, Tim restructured a front office that features many talented individuals, all of whom work as a team in all facets of the organization’s operations. The group’s mission is to sustain the long-term success and winning tradition of the Major League club, with the ultimate goal of bringing a World Series champion to Houston. This restructuring included the promotion of respected scouting veteran Paul Ricciarini to senior director of player personnel and professional scout Fred Nelson to coordinator of professional scouting. Both Ricciarini and Nelson have played key roles in the club’s scouting success for many years. Tim also promoted Director of Minor League Administration David Gottfried to senior director of baseball operations, and Gottfried was promoted against this off-season to Assistant General Manager, Baseball Operations. Tim also added Detroit Tigers Director of Minor League Operations Ricky Bennett as the club’s Assistant General Manager/Director of Player Development. Additionally, Tim named former Astros standout Enos Cabell as a special assistant to the general manager, and brought longtime Astros coach and respected baseball man Matt Galante back into the Astros fold as a consultant. Galante handles evaluation of Major and Minor League players during the season and also coordinates on-field Major League Spring Training for the club.
Tim also named Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as a special assistant to the general manager. The Texas icon and principal owner of both the Triple A Round Rock and Double A Corpus Christi affiliates, assists in the Major and minor league development efforts, with particular emphasis on the club’s pitching development programs. Tim has also added franchise icon Jeff Bagwell to the front office staff, and the club’s all-time home run leader with be involved in all aspects of the club’s baseball operations.
Additionally, the Nolan Ryan Elite Pitching Camp and the Jeff Bagwell Elite Hitting Camp for the club’s top prospects are held in conjunction each year at Minute Maid Park. The Astros Elite Camp was originally begun by Purpura and his staff before the 2005 season.
Producing winning Major League players has long been the focus of the club’s player development system, as the quality of a system is ultimately judged by the Major League success of the players it produces. Recent homegrown players include four former All-Stars (Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Morgan Ensberg, Brad Lidge) and many other standout players such as Gold Glove candidate Adam Everett (considered by many to be the best defensive shortstop in baseball), Chris Burke, Jason Lane, Chad Qualls, and 2005 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Willy Taveras, the latter of whom was traded in a deal for Jason Jennings this off-season. A total of 16 players were on the Astros roster at the end of the 2006 season who have never played a game in a Major League uniform other than the Astros. Additionally, it was 2001 first-round draft pick Burke’s home run in the bottom of the 18th ended the longest game in postseason history and clinched a Division Series win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the 2005 NL Division Series.
The 2006 season featured another influx of talented players who began their professional careers while Tim was directing the Houston farm system, including PCL Pitcher of the Year Jason Hirsh, Texas League Pitcher of the Year Matt Albers, talented right-handers Taylor Buchholz, Fernando Nieve, and Chris Sampson, and catcher Hector Gimenez. During the past 10 years from 1997-2006, the Astros minor league affiliates have won at least one league championship at each of the Triple A, Double A, Class A, and Rookie League levels. In 2001, the quality of the Astros player development operations was honored with the club earning Organization of the Year honors from Baseball America, Baseball Weekly, Topps, and SportsTicker. Double A Corpus Christi won the 2006 Texas League title this season, and five of the six Houston affiliates made the postseason in their respective leagues.
Staff development has also been a staple of the Houston player development system in recent seasons. Houston bullpen coach Mark Bailey and hitting coach Sean Berry began their coaching careers in the Houston minor league system; former Kansas City manager and current Yankeees first-base coach Tony Pena, who earned 2003 AL Manager of the Year honors, managed Triple A New Orleans in the Astros system from 1999-2001; and current Milwaukee pitching coach Mike Maddux’s first coaching assignment was as the pitching coach for Double A Round Rock. In addition, Astros special assistant and former Diamondbacks interim manager Al Pedrique served as the hitting coach for New Orleans in 1998 and won a championship as the manager of Class A Michigan in 2000. New Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta’s first managerial job in professional baseball was in the Houston minor league system.
Tim, 49, has served in several capacities since joining the club in January of 1994, including assistant director of minor league operations and director of player relations. He joined the Astros after spending two seasons as a founding member of the staff of the Arizona Fall League, a successful developmental league operated by Major League Baseball that serves as a finishing school for top prospects. In 2003, Tim was elected to the Board of Directors for the National Association, the governing board of minor league baseball. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Texas Gulf Coast.
He worked as an assistant in player development for the California Angels during Spring Training from 1990-92 and headed special projects for the San Diego Padres minor league department in 1991.
A native of Oak Lawn, Ill., Tim received a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University of Chicago in 1983 and earned a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego in 1992. Tim was inducted into the Oak Lawn Community High School (Illinois) Hall of Fame this November of 2005.
Tim, his wife, Shari, daughter Brooke, and son Brennan, make their home in Bellaire, Texas
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