What to like: Astros hire James Click as new GM

The Astros made two major hirings in the last week and in some ways, it felt like they brought in Felix Unger and Oscar Madison to partner up in the manager and general manager spots.

Dusty Baker had been a big name that had been out there since the beginning of the manager search. The first time I saw James Click’s name in the GM search was when the articles appeared that he would be hired. Baker is 70 years old with more than 45 years in the majors as a player, coach or manager. Click is a 42 year old with 14 years in Tampa’s front office. Baker is famous. Click sounds like the pseudonym of someone who writes computer manuals. Baker is old school. Click is all new age in baseball terms. Baker is from the school of hard knocks. Click is a Yale graduate. Baker has been with seven different teams, four as a player and four as a coach/manager with the Giants bridging both. Click has only been with the Rays until a couple days ago.

But Jim Crane, who pulled in Jeff Luhnow from the front office in St. Louis to front a very successful teardown and re-build has done his research and quickly grabbed another young man and thrust him into the general manager’s spot. There are a lot of reasons to like this hire.

What makes a good “marriage”. A lot of us old-timers know that what makes a great marriage in our personal lives is not just compatibility. It is also two people with different strengths filling in the gaps for each other. In a recent Q&A with Allyson Footer, Baker said this about building a relationship with Click.

There are some things that I can learn from him. There are some things that possibly he can learn from me. It’s like dealing with my son. I call him when I’m stumped on my computer when I’m stumped on my cell phone, how to transfer this and that. These are areas where I can improve. There are areas [Click] wants to improve on. We’ll enhance each other.”

Getting by with less. There have been concerns about how the Astros will do going forward as they feel the squeeze of budgets finally hitting or exceeding the luxury tax level in the game. Click is coming from an organization where they have won 90 and 96 wins the last two seasons with the 29th and 30th highest payrolls each season. He will probably chuckle at the angst folks have in not being able to spend, spend, spend as a solution to their problems.

Fitting in with the front office. It sure made a lot more sense to bring in an older style manager than an older style general manager. The front office as it is set up has a lot of analytics going on up and down the organization. James Click will be comfortable and will know how to use what has already been set up.

A little mix of more “humanity”. Click has been part of a Rays front office that although it has been analytics-focused, also had fun. It is understood that the employees would have ping pong tournaments and other stress-relieving and team building breaks. Jeff Luhnow (maybe unfairly) has been seen as a guy who ran a tight and not necessarily fun ship in his front office.

The long view. One of the things the Astros are saying with this move is that they see their GM as here for the long term – the manager – not so much. If Baker does not perform well, the GM will part of the search party after this season for someone who better matches up.

A different point of view. The Rays were proponents of the “opener”; bringing in a relief pitcher for an inning or two to start games. This worked out well for their team, which was number 1 in the AL in ERA last season. He may or may not bring this concept to the Astros, but it is likely that he will have different tricks up his sleeve (legal tricks) to help make the Astros a better team.

Worked his way up. In a recent article by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times he talked about his time with the Rays.

“Click…. joined the Rays in 2005 as an intern to help build a database for new baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman. Click got hired full time in 2006, and the Yale history major has worked his way up to vice president of baseball operations. He has a hand in all facets of the operation, including systems, research and development, logistics, player evaluation, contract negotiations and more.”

One of the things that impressed Crane about Click was how he had worked from the bottom up and actually had done all these jobs that would be under his direction as GM. There is a lot to be said for this.

The one unspoken plus here is that after the safe hire of Dusty Baker that seemed like an MLB sanctioned addition, that the hire of James Click feels like a pure Crane decision and a good move for this team moving into the future.


60 comments on “What to like: Astros hire James Click as new GM

  1. I really like the Click hiring. From what I’m reading about him, he seems like a home run hire. I was disappointed with the Baker hiring. He seems like a hit by pitch passage to first base. I like Dusty, but I grieve losing AJ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i like the click hire. i have always been a proponent for talking to the people who actually do the work, when making decisions about the work procedures. the fact that he held all these positions on the way up feels good to me in terms of his understanding of the entire picture. baker i still think is a placeholder or sacrificial lamb. i hope he does such a good job he proves me wrong, but i suspect a new manager in 2021, that is hinch-like in his abilities and meshes with click better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I like the hire too. I like ping pong. And team building efforts can’t be underestimated. You’ve got to go to work and have some fun while you’re doing it, especially the entry level people who frequently pull the heaviest load. At least that’s the way it was in the hotel business.

    I’m warming more and more to the Baker deal. I’m going to give Crane credit for this one too, until someone tells me MLB made him do it. Thing is, if Dusty has the respect of the other managers in the league, they will keep the degree of retaliation in check, after the obligatory messages sent. I don’t think we’re going to end up in a benches clearing brawl every time we play someone new, but a guy like Baker will also help it not happen.


  4. Just the fact that he worked under Andrew Friedan makes this a really good signing. There will be bumps in the road for the 2020 season, and I hope both Dusty Baker and James Click will be able to direct this club to a successful season. So much about this season is still unknown….my hope is our guys will do their best to not call attention to themselves. That’s all we can hope for.


  5. James Paxton will be out until late May or late June. Puts the Yankees in a bind already. Too bad ((((GRINNING))))!!!


    • I’m sure if the Yankees don’t win it all in 2020 it will be because our garbage can banging caused James Paxton to startle and pull his back out of alignment….

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m very pleased with the Click hire. His age, work history, and coming from the Rays are all favorable.
    I’m also warming up to Dusty. The remarks He’s made to the media shows he’s willing to be flexible.
    I think Dusty will hold the guys to a more mature demeanor than A.J. That’s going to be important this season.
    For the first time in a long time I’m looking forward to spring.


  7. Raise your hand if you wish Manfred would finish his report on Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran. I’m getting pretty sick and tired of this team getting raked over the coals from everything from ESPN to The New York Times. I’m very aware of what they did, and WHO to blame it on, but the endless fallout from this is making this old girl very weary. Here’s my hand✋….where’s yours.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Right here Becky. I agree with you. Although it probably won’t happen, I would like to have Hinch back after 2021. We’ll have to trust Click to get us another great manager. I’m sure Hinch is kicking himself in the butt for not taking the bull by the horns and fixing the scandal as it happened.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, AC – I always say at work that the only people not making mistakes at work are those souls who happen to do nothing. The key is always – addressing the mistakes.
      Let’s face it – AJ Hinch was not more “stupid” in losing the 2019 Series as he was brilliant in winning the 2017 Series. Just some of his decisions did not work out quite like he would have liked.
      So, yes let’s ride Dusty Baker and see what that does and if it isn’t working there are other fish in the sea.


  8. I like the Click hiring because it represents a clean break from the Luhnow regime, which ended horribly.
    I like the fact that Click was part of an organization that had some success despite not having any money or any fanbase or a decent ballpark.
    I like that Click has participated in every facet of operations with the Rays.
    I like the fact that he comes from an organization that has learned to develop their own pitching prospects.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The only Astros in 2019 with a below league average (OPS+) are as follows: Straw 92, Reddick 89, Kemp 88, Jake 80, Tyler White 72. Those with at least 100 Plate Appearances. Even Maldonado was at 101. So I think Reddick might hear footsteps and Straw needs to pick it up.


  10. I know Crane is trying to stay under the luxury tax, but I want to run something by you folks. McHugh is still out there unsigned….maybe it’s just me but he could be a asset to Baker out of the bullpen, or a spot starter. I know he had shoulder probes last year, but I’d still give him another chance in spring training. You??

    Liked by 1 person

  11. 2019 Astros
    Posted the highest weighted Runs Created, wRC+ 125 as a team
    (Yanks second place with 117).

    And the lowest team expected Fielding Independent Pitching, xFIP at 3.80
    (LAD and Rays the only other sub-4’s).

    wRC+/ERA- rivalled the 1927 Yankees as statistically the best Hitting, and Pitching team ever assembled.


  12. Daveb…A non roster invite to spring training. I would imagine if he’s pitching well, he could probably get $1 or 2 million, but who knows. These days a million to the owners, is like $5 dollars to you and me. I’d still give him an invite.


  13. Tom Verducci will have A.J. Hinch on MLB tonight tomorrow night 7:00 eastern
    6:00 central. The interview will be about “it”……I’ll see if I can DVR it. I have a friend who owns a Cajun restaurant who thinks the Astros will hire Hinch after his suspension by the commissioner is over. While I absolutely LOVED Hinch, that ship has sailed. It’s sad that he will probably not ever get a chance to manage again.


  14. I just don’t understand why this interview has to take place. I can’t imagine anything that Hinch can say to help rehabilitate his image. He should stay away from the media. They are not his friend.


  15. Only saw a brief lift from the interview. What sadness. Along with others, however, still believe story is far from being told in all its field of nightmares, and not just for us.


  16. ABC 13 just said the Wall Street Journal is saying the cheating started in 2016 in the front office and was enhanced the following year. So that would be Luhnow, which makes his post firing comments deplorable. Glad we got Click


  17. The analytics and the decision to put the cameras right behind the dugout definitely played a part in this and to ignore its implication is downright stupidity. Kind of like setting out a dish of chocolates in front of a bunch of kids and saying you can’t have any. I call BS on the article since the league investigators have said they looked at 16 – 19 seasons. It would have come out if that had been the case. I like the comment that Dan Dowd made as to why AJ didn’t become more vocal and assertive about it. As for Hank Aarons comment I disagree big time. What did he say about the steriods era and those who took them? Some still refuse to talk about it and they are guilty as hell. I’d take AJ back in a minute but it probably won’t happen. I know await what will the players say.


  18. Well…….that just made me sad, all over again. Hinch is a good guy, and this interview tried to put him in a darker light. This whole mess makes me want to vomit. This city was literally flooded….and this team gave Houston a glimmer of hope that we would be ok. Watching the parade, and crying tears of joy the night they won, just rips that joy and hope from my heart. Not in a MILLION years will this organization know how this has effected our city. My heart just aches thinking about it.😭 Becky⚾
    I wish Alex Cora had never walked in that clubhouse.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. What should I conclude from Hinch’s refusal to say that there was no buzzer system? He simply referred to the Commissioner’s statement on that topic. My question isn’t rhetorical. If there absolutely was no buzzer system, wouldn’t Hinch come out and specifically say that? Or is it possible he doesn’t actually know the answer to that?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I wonder about that too Jeff. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I still refuse to acknowledge Fiers. He’s a slimy little worm. Notice Hinch said if had come to him he would have taken action but he kept his mouth shut until afterwards. He’s managed to get his 15 minutes of fame or infamy in my judgement. Him, Cora and Beltran can all put to sea in a leaky boat in shark infested waters. I hope the players say the right things in their apologetic opportunity. They are just as guilty as Hinch if not more. Why continue to do something knowing it to be wrong. Did they think they wouldn’t get caught. It really pisses me off!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Maybe I’m reading into this what I want to believe…….
    I would not be surprised to see A.J. back in Houston next year.
    I see the blame put squarely in the GM’s office.
    Who knows why Hinch didn’t put a stop to this from the beginning. He hinted to being insecure in his ability but could it be HE was managed by his boss?
    None of us will ever know exactly how this all went down.
    Seeing the clip from the last out of game 7 was heartbreaking.
    One of the happiest moments of my life forever tarnished.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I promised I would not comment on this again. As a good politician, I lied. What Hinch said was “Winning is a strong aphrodisiac.” He liked winning, the players liked winning and even Mike Fiers liked winning. In order to win, each of us at times, bend the rules. We run a red light when no cars are around, we take a “gray” deduction on our taxes, we repeat a rumor, we gossip, do our kids homework, and do other things that for the moment make us feel good. Trust me, he didn’t destroy those Monitors after a win.

    He took responsibility AFTER getting caught. But at least he took responsibility. Unlike a few dozen others that were involved. He said loud and clear “I am human.” And all these others in baseball that have NEVER done anything wrong, will be sure to tell you have great they are and how terrible everyone in Houston is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 45, you’re right. At least he took some responsibility. But damn, it was still his dugout, even if it appears more and more that the manager of the baseball team really did not fully run the operation. But he also did not have to ignore the transgressions that went on for years. So I’m still offended by Hinch too.


  22. I oiled my glove today. I wish I knew how to show it to you all. This Wilson played a lot of slow pitch in left field. It was busy. In 1994 or thereabouts, it played catch with Cal Ripken while he was down here on vacation. His soft tossing left a sore hand in that mitt, but I sure did my best not to wince. Now I show up at the Dominican Sunday semi fast pitch games. Every now and then they give me a shot behind the plate or at first. My wheels don’t get me around the outfield fast enough anymore. I just turned 65. I now get Medicare. I feel good, but I think I really am old.


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