The most hated team in baseball basically hired your grandpa to manage them. Baker has never managed a team as forward-thinking as the Astros. The next closest team would be the Nationals, and they were promptly ousted in the first round of the playoffs each time they made it under Baker’s watch. I can’t imagine this is going to go well for the Astros, so let me explain why.
Yes, it’s true that the Astros are cheating jerks, but they are also the most analytically-driven franchise in all of baseball. Spin rate, spin efficiency, launch angle, you name it. This is how their scouting department, front office, and personnel operate. I routinely argue with my pops (he just turned 60) that pitcher wins and RBIs don’t really matter. He is kind of an old school baseball guy. Now let’s imagine 70-year-old Dusty Baker getting thrown into the fire in Houston. Maybe he is going to swear that George Springer should wear PF Flyers to make him run faster. Maybe he’s going to suggest that Jose Altuve should bat 9th because of his lack of RBIs. Maybe he’s going to insist on not using the DH because he thinks all pitchers should hit. I’m not sure, but I doubt any of this will make the Astros better.
I mean, I get it. The Astros are trying to repair their image. Hiring an old baseball sage like Baker is probably a smart PR move in the long run. Just yesterday at his introductory press conference, he had this to say: “You got to go forward and make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Baker said of the cheating scandal. “It certainly is not going to happen on my watch here, and I don’t foresee it happening ever again because this has been an embarrassment for a lot of people.” That’s pretty much spot on. Key word: embarrassment. Words cannot describe the joy I will have when I see Yankees fans banging on trash cans and other various items this season when the Astros come to town. The Stadium is going to be extra rowdy.
Going against the grain
A lot of people are viewing this decision as the “safe hire.” No one is going to criticize Dusty. He’s one of baseball’s untouchables. His career record is 1863-1636, which is pretty admirable. I, on the other hand, think this hire has the chance to be a disaster. No other franchise is hiring these old school types anymore. If anything, we’ve seen more managers get jobs with ZERO experience. We all know the Astros are good enough to make the playoffs. Hell, I could manage them to a division title at this point, but it’s the postseason managing and experience that matters. Baker has a putrid 23-32 record in the postseason. Add that up with the lack of cheating (hopefully), and I think the Yankees will definitely have the upper hand if there is another October match up. Maybe this is obvious, but the Astros should’ve hired Buck Showalter instead.