The MLB offseason is in full swing with several teams hiring their new managers over the last several days. Craig Counsell is joining the Cubs and resetting the manager market, making $8 million per season.
The Mets are reportedly hiring Carlos Mendoza this week, and the Guardians opted to hire Stephen Vogt. So with all this movement taking place, what are the Astros doing on the manager front?
Dana Brown spoke with the media last week and said the team had not interviewed any candidates, and that might begin at the GM meetings this week. But why is this taking so long? Aren't they concerned that the top choices won't be available at this pace?
Are the Astros taking their sweet time because they already know who they want to hire? Bob Nightengale recently reported that Brown is in favor of promoting Astros bench coach Joe Espada. However, Nightengale also reported Jim Crane might be looking to make a splash with a bigger name.
So what's the holdup? Finding a bigger name to manage could get tougher by the day, with most teams much further along in the hiring process. And who would even be a big name in this hiring cycle?
We all heard reports about Dusty Baker and Dana Brown not seeing eye to eye on playing time for Yainer Diaz and Chas McCormick. Dusty Baker had the power to set the lineup how he saw fit, and Baker won a power struggle over former GM James Click last year.
With all this in mind, how much power does the Astros GM really have if he can't influence lineup decisions and hire his top choice for manager?
Is all this a dog and pony show for the club to eventually hire Brad Ausmus? Who many believe Jeff Bagwell would like to see hired. Or will Joe Espada get the gig?
Be sure to watch the video above as we examine what's really going on with the Astros manager search.
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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.