HOUSTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros hired Jim Williams as their new manager Thursday, 2 1/2 months after he was fired by the Boston Red Sox.
Since no "major announcement" can be made before the end of the World Series, the Astros had to get permission from Commissioner Bud Selig to introduce Williams at an afternoon news conference.
Williams, 58, takes over for Larry Dierker, who guided the Astros to four National League Central Division titles in five seasons but never won a playoff series and resigned after losing to the Braves in the Division Series this year.
Williams will manage his third team. He had three winning years in Toronto before being fired in 1989 and guided Boston to a pair of postseason appearances in four-plus seasons before being dismissed in August.
"We've set the bar high, so we needed someone to take us to the next level," said general manager Gerry Hunsicker, who joined Williams and team owner Drayton McLane at the news conference.
The bar often has been knocked down by the Atlanta Braves, who have eliminated the Astros in three of their last four postseason appearances.
Hunsicker is hoping Williams knows something he doesn't. Williams was Atlanta's third base coach from 1990-96, winning five division titles.
"Hopefully, he'll have a little insight on doing something we haven't been able to do up 'til now," said Hunsicker, whose team lost playoff series to Atlanta in 1997, 1999 and 2001.
"We need to learn to beat the Braves in the playoffs, and maybe this is a step in that process," McLane said.
Hunsicker and McLane also met with Class AA Round Rock manager Jackie Moore, former big league skipper Jim Fregosi, Astros third base coach Mike Cubbage, Class AAA New Orleans manager Tony Pena and Milwaukee Brewers third base coach Jerry Royster.
"I thought we had an exceptional group of candidates," Hunsicker said. "But as we went through the search and tried to decide how to separate these candidates the one thing we all unanimously felt was that we really needed someone with major league managerial experience."
In nine seasons as a major league skipper, Williams is 695-593. He guided the Red Sox to the 1999 American League Championship Series, but lost control of his team as his relationship with General Manager Dan Duquette crumbled.
"Right now, I work for the Houston Astros," he said, answering a question about his situation in Boston. "Right now, I'm proud to be an Astro."
Among Williams' biggest problems in Boston was troublemaker Carl Everett, a former Astro who often was late arriving to the ballpark and bucked his manager's authority to the approval of Duquette.
"The main thing is to be solid and good in your clubhouse, keep things together in your clubhouse," Williams said.