The Houston Astros made it official on Monday, hiring the organization's 20th manger in Joe Espada. GM Dana Brown thanked owner Jim Crane for letting him lead the manager search, which conflicted from a previous report from MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
McTaggart's report made it seem like Crane and Jeff Bagwell would be leading the search, with Brown having a say in the process. But the fact that Crane and Bagwell were not part of the presser suggests this was Brown's decision.
There was a lot of pushback from fans and media when Jeff Bagwell's name was mentioned as being part of the process. Especially when rumors started swirling about Brad Ausmus being a candidate for the job.
Many wondered why they would hire a GM and not let him pick his own manager. It seems that message was heard by the organization, and this hiring is Dana Brown's. Which is a bit of a surprise considering Bob Nightengale reported not that long ago that Brown wanted to hire Espada, and Crane might be interested in a bigger name.
Typically, Crane has elected to hire from outside the organization. Dusty Baker and Dana Brown fit that description. But it appears Dana Brown led this hiring process, so he'll get the credit or blame depending on how this plays out.
Finally, Dusty Baker made some comments on his way out about 30-year-old bloggers and tweeters being part of the reason he wanted to retire. What stood out most in that statement was the ageism. The thought that people don't know what they're talking about because of their age is ridiculous. SportsMap's Ken Hoffman wrote a piece last week highlighting Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, and Billy Beane.
All three had a lot of success early in their careers. Imagine if they had been overlooked because they weren't in their 40s. Baker's comments were directed at the media, but the point remains.
It's funny, all the Astros had to do was look around the city of Houston to see young coaches making a big impact. The Texans and Rockets are happy with their young coaches. Espada is 48 years old, so it seems Houston opted for a younger manager as well. Especially compared to Dusty Baker (74).
Finally, how will Espada work with the front office? Based on what Dana Brown is saying, this seems like a perfect fit. Espada knows this team, they know him, and perhaps the front office will work more closely with the manager now that Brown has had the opportunity to pick his guy for the job.
There's so much more to get to. Watch the video above for the full conversation!
Dec 6, 2023, 3:19 pm
Houston has been blessed to see some good sports teams over the years. Luv Ya Blue Oilers, ketchup & mustard Rockets, Astros dynasty, even the Texans had a period in which they were playoff contenders every season for a few years. While there has been a lot of heartbreak, there's also been some satisfying moments. Despite what some may think, it hasn't been all doom and gloom.
The Rockets ('94 & '95) and Astros ('17 & '22) have both won titles. While the other teams haven't, they've provided enough moments and memories. The one thing I noticed that puzzled me: I don't think all these teams have been competitive and contenders at the same time. Not just that, but have they all been good moving forward? I don't think so.
The Astros could be towards the end of their run. The window can stay open if general manager Dana Brown makes the right moves. As seen in the tweet above, Joe Espada is over the moon about becoming the manager. The players and organization both wanted the move. It was a natural fit to promote him from bench coach to manager. He's been there since 2018 and in MLB coaching since 2006 (a year after he retired from AAA ball). At 48 years old, Espada is young enough to still be able to relate to his players, but experienced enough to teach and lead them.
The same can be said for the Rockets' Ime Udoka (46) and Texans' DeMeco Ryans (39). Both guys are former player who reached the highest professional level in their respective sports. Both were a coach's dream when they played because they were smart and played hard. Both took over teams that were terrible for a while and have been rebuilding. Now they're expected to start working towards contention.
When the Rockets were winning their titles, the Oilers were on their way out of town and the Astros were playoff contenders. When the Astros won their titles, the Rockets were trying to win one of their own in '17, but were the butt of jokes in '22. Meanwhile, the Texans were below .500 in each of those seasons. The 2018–19 seasons were the last time all three made the playoffs at the same time.
I believe we will be seeing a lot more seasons like that coming in the future. Each of these coaches have a presence about themselves. Their players love them and they're smart guys. They know how to get the best out of the teams they're on. They're all former players who can identify with the players of today because of their age and proximity from the game after their playing days were over.
Each team's fan base is excited about the potential. The Astros are the easiest ones to see succeed soon, since they just won a title last year and still have some major pieces coming back. The Texans are enjoying a resurgence under rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. The Rockets have a little further to go, but the building blocks are in place. I wouldn't be surprised if we see all three teams in the playoffs as early as this current season, or the season coming in the Astros' case. Odds on who wins the next title will get very interesting over the next few years. Who do you think wins the next one? My money is on the team that has white in its colors.