Houston, We May Have a Problem

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Astros Manager Dusty Baker’s contract expires at the end of the 2021 season. With Baker unsure if he will manage again, who are some likely candidates to take over?

1. Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker is the current skipper for the Houston Astros. Baker said in an ESPN interview that he was unsure about managing the Astros past 2021. “Maybe,” he said, “Depends how I feel. Depends on how the team feels about me…You never know what changes are going to come about in life.”

Baker has done very well so far in his first two seasons with the club, taking over in 2020 in the midst of a sign stealing scandal that would cost then manager, A.J Hinch his job. He led the Astros through a tough 2020 season filled with injuries that ultimately ended one game short of the Astros third World Series appearance in five years. So far into the 2021 season, he has set Houston up for their fourth division title in five years and their fifth straight postseason appearance.

Should he return, Baker probably will not sign a massive deal given his age, so expect something small like a one to two year contract.

2. Joe Espada

Jose Espada is a fan favorite for the role of manager past the 2021 season. Espada was brought in by former Astros manager A.J. Hinch following the 2017 season in which Espada was the third base coach for the New York Yankees. Espada has been “groomed” for the role by Hinch.

Espada is already a well known candidate amongst the Astros organization, his bilingual abilities make communicating with the players much easier. He could be the go to choice due to his time in within the organization, but will just have to wait and see.

3. Craig Biggio

Hear me out, although it is very unlikely to happen, the Astros could pursue the likes of Hall of Famer and former Astro Craig Biggio. Biggio would not be a bad option, given how well he knows the organization and the players. The main question would be if he was interested.

Speaking from a fans perspective, Biggio would be the ideal fit for old times sake, but who knows…

4. Rodney Linares

Rodney Linares is another familiar face for the Astros organization. Linares spent 12 years in the Astros organization as a batting coach and a minor league manager. Most notably, Linares was responsible for the development of future stars such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer. Linares was hired by Astros general manager and former GM for the Tampa Bay Rays, James Click, back in 2018 as a third base coach for Tampa Bay, so the connection between the two is there.

Bringing someone in like Linares who knows the Astros organization would be a smart move, but it is up to Click to decide who is best fit for the job.

5. A.J. Hinch

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch signed a three year contract with the Detroit Tigers following the end of the 2020 season. A season in which A.J. was suspended for because of his role in the 2017 sign stealing scandal with the Astros. Hinch is a fan favorite mainly due to him taking the Astros back to the playoffs for the first time in a decade in 2015, as well as leading them to their first ever World Series title in 2017. Hinch showed his capability of leading a team like the Astros, but with owner Jim Crane trying to change the “vibe” of the clubhouse, it is unlikely that Hinch would be brought back.

Considering what Hinch has done for Detroit so far in his debut season, it is unlikely that Detroit will let him leave in three years. If the Red Sox can bring Alex Cora back, why can’t Houston have A.J?

Final Thoughts

Given what Dusty Baker has done for the Astros in his time with the team, should he decide to return it’s no question he would be resigned. Although we cannot see into the future, it’s always fun to predict what we hope could happen.

As always you can find me on Twitter @KeganCrawford

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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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