How moves by Astros GM could shine light on Dusty Baker's future in Houston

How moves by Astros GM could shine light on Dusty Baker's future in Houston
Dusty may not be long for Houston. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

There's nothing more enjoyable than a good pissing match or struggle for power in a sports team's hierarchy. Whether it's a coach, general manager, or others, it's fun to see how things play out. What's not fun is when it's your team, and/or things get ugly. The best situations to watch are the ones where things get petty!

This seemingly played out at MLB's trade deadline when Astros general manager James Click traded outfielder Myles Straw for more bullpen help, but didn't replace him. Instead, the move appeared to have been made to get Chas McCormick more playing time. Perhaps it was a move made to call up Jake Meyers from Sugar Land. Maybe, it was as simple as shoring up one of the worst areas on a contending team. Or maybe, just maybe, it was Click's way of showing manager Dusty Baker who's winning the pissing match.

Dusty is an old school baseball guy who is seemingly embracing some analytics. Click is a full on analytics guy. These opposing viewpoints might have clashed when it came to McCormick getting more time. Dusty wanted to play Straw because he's the better defensive player, while McCormick has the type of pop that warrants as many at bats as he can get. Perhaps Dusty refused to play McCormick more, so Click traded him. That level of petty is much appreciated by people like me!

Sometimes, we do things that hurt ourselves and need to be saved. Every so often, someone will save us and we don't want to be saved. This seems to be the case in this instance. Dusty was too stubborn, so Click made a move to force his hand. This also shows me that I don't think Dusty will be long for Houston. While this duo is making it work for now, I think a parting of the ways will be best served for all parties involved. Click will be able to hire a manager he's more in tuned with, and Dusty can possibly ride of into the sunset with a World Series ring as a parting gift. It is the last year of his deal and no extension talks have taken place.

The prevailing thought is that bench coach Joe Espada has been groomed to take over once Dusty moves along. That would be a good move in my opinion. Or, Click will get to go through the hiring process and find a candidate he thinks is suitable. Either way, this team is still built to contend and will hopefully get a new manager that works well with Click and can bring more of the approach Click wants in the dugout. While Dusty has proven to be the type of manager this team needed to get through the cheating scandal fallout, it could be time for a new approach. Would winning a World Series change things? I don't think so. Dusty is older and pretty amicable. I'm sure they'd work something out to where they can part ways without things getting ugly. Dusty was always a transition guy. Now it's time to finally make that move and help usher in the next phase of this Astros dynasty.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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