In between their spats of anger about “IT” fans have been using their peripheral vision to track the stories about who the Astros are bringing in to interview for their open manager’s spot and who else they are considering.
We know they have talked to experienced managers Buck Showalter, John Gibbons and dusted the cobwebs off Dusty Baker. It has been written that they will bring in old Rangers nemesis Jeff Banister and newbie Eduardo Perez and rumor has it another newbie Will Venable may get an interview. Bench coach Joe Espada (who may or may not be tainted by the scandal) has been mentioned and of course, some folks would love them some Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell for A.J. Hinch’s open spot.
But perhaps who is not as important a question as to what when it comes to the new manager.
- What is Jim Crane thinking at this point?
- What power will this new manager have?
- What oversight will this manager have from a GM who is likely to be chosen after he has been chosen?
- What say (if any) does MLB have on this hiring?
- What difference will this make in the long run to the success of the club?
This will be the third manager hiring that will occur under owner Jim Crane. The first hiring was the ill-fated Bo Porter, who seemed to spend too much time throwing his players under the bus (and then driving it over them) and who likely was a little too old school to mesh with the Astros 21st-century nerd cave. Crane then was involved with the hiring of A.J. Hinch, which seemed like a brilliant choice until the hay in the barn caught fire with him and Jeff Luhnow inside. So what is Jim Crane thinking here? Do they really need a get tough, old school manager to “control” these players? Does anybody think after what has just happened and the personal bullets the players dodged that they really need to be told to toe the line on cheating? Will Jim make a choice that is more in alignment with the modern nerd cave he already owns or will he make an old school choice that might rein in that part of the organization?
What kind of power will the new manager have? The feeling from what has been leaked about Hinch destroying monitors rather than confronting his players is that he did not necessarily feel he had power over the players. Will the new manager be more of a figurehead, who like Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own” pops out of the dugout to wave his hat and smile at the masses? Will the manager be there to oversee the players or will he be looking over his shoulder at the front office and possibly the MLB personnel overseeing him?
Since the GM is likely hired second and will not be involved in the hunt for the manager – does that signal that these two areas of the club will be separate, but equal? Will they both report to Crane rather than the manager reporting to the GM, who reports to the owner?
There is already suspicion that is more than a conspiracy theory that MLB reached an agreement with Jim Crane ahead of time on the suspension followed by the firing of both Luhnow and Hinch. Does MLB have a say (beyond diversity issues) on who Crane interviews and eventually who he hires?
How this works out for the club in the long run is the real question here. Most competent managers should do pretty well with the type of club that the Astros will be this season. A heck of a lot of talent with a huge chip on their shoulder sounds like a formula for a good season. But since the manager is not the GM’s pick, there might be some bumpy roads down the way if they are not in or near synch on personnel and their use. How will they make this team a sustainable juggernaut? Can they regain the confidence of their fan base and can they bury a past that will be dug up at every venue along the way?
We all want to hear who will be named the manager of the Astros. But what went into that decision and what it means down the line may be the more critical points.