HOUSTON – The Houston Astros are in a precarious position heading into Spring Training, entering the 2020 season with a manager or general manager very late in the game. The Astros are not the only team scrambling for management, as the Boston Red Sox parted ways with Alex Cora and the New York Mets are currently deciding the fate of ex-Astro Carlos Beltran.
So far, only Jeff Lunhow and A.J. Hinch are gone, so much of the Astros infrastructure is still in place as the team gets ready for pitchers and catchers to report in roughly a month. By then, they should have the vacancies filled. For now, here’s a look at some of the possibilities for the Astros managerial job, as reported by MLB.com.
THE IN-HOUSE CANDIDATE
JOE ESPADA - ASTROS BENCH COACH
This hire would make the most sense, especially if the Astros decide to give Espada an interim test. Espada is currently acting as the Astros interim manager and was a hot candidate for some of the high-profile managerial openings this offseason. Espada would be the easiest hire since the players already know him and he’s tuned into the organizational structure.
BUCK SHOWALTER - (BAL 2010-2018, TEX 2003-2006, ARI 1998-2000, NYY 1992-1995)
Showalter has been around so long, he seems older than he really is. The 63-year-old manager comes with 20 years of managerial experience including five playoff appearances. Between 2012-2016, Showalter took the Orioles to the playoffs three times in five seasons playing in the tough American League East. Showalter did also oversee the team’s collapse. In 2018, the Orioles went 47-115 and Showalter’s contract was not renewed.
DUSTY BAKER - (WAS 2016-2017, CIN 2008-2013, CHC 2003-2006, SFG 1993-2002)
Baker is another 20+ year managerial veteran and a three-time “MLB Manager of the Year” winner. Baker led his teams to winning records for every franchise except the Cubs (where a 66-96 2006 season dropped his record only four games under .500). Baker took the Giants to the National League Pennant in 2002, ushered the Cubs through the famous 2003 collapse, and made the playoffs in five of his last six years as a manager. Baker has also been criticized for not managing bullpens well and not adjusting to current analytics culture in baseball.
BRUCE BOCHY - (SFG 2007-2019, SDP 1995-2006)
Bruce Bochy has won three World Series Championships. He also took the 1998 San Diego Padres to the World Series, where they were swept by the 114-win Yankees. Bochy is known for his aptitude with bullpen management, and before a downturn starting in 2017, the San Francisco Giants were an absolute power in the National League. Bochy retired after the 2019 season, but at 64 years old is six years younger than Baker.
THE YOUNG GUNS
WILL VENABLE - CUBS THIRD BASE COACH
Venable has been a hot name around the majors as a potential manager this offseason but does not have any managerial experience. At just 37 years old, Venable was a major league player as recently as 2016. A baseball lifer, Venable’s father Max played for the San Francisco Giants. The Princeton grad coached first base for the Cubs two seasons before moving over to third base before the 2019 season.
RAUL IBANEZ - DODGERS SPECIAL ASST. TO GM
The long-time (19 years) major leaguer has helped in the Dodgers from the office since 2016, splitting that job with TV duties for Fox. Ibanez played for five different MLB teams, making the World Series in 2009 as a player for the Phillies.
JEFF BANISTER - PIRATES BASEBALL OPERATIONS ASSISTANT (2015-2018 RANGERS MANAGER)
The ex-Rangers manager did something A.J. Hinch never did in Houston - win “American League Manager of the Year” (2015). Banister led the Rangers to back-to-back division titles in 2015 and 2016 before tailing off for two rough seasons in 2017 and 2018. The Rangers replaced Banister with Chris Woodward for the 2019 season. Banister struggled in the playoffs, never making the ALCS in his two appearances, but finished with a record over .500 in his four seasons. Banister currently works in the Pirates organization in baseball operations.