Much to the dismay of many of our readers, Brad Ausmus will not be managing the Astros in 2013. A poll conducted here at CTH suggests a high percentage of Astros fans want Brad to be the team’s next skipper. But that’s not going to happen. Several sources have reported that Ausmus was indeed interviewed for the job but has taken himself out of the running. Ausmus, who spent ten of his 18 major league seasons in an Astros uniform said personal reasons played a role in his decision.
Ausmus, 43, is currently managing Team Israel in the qualifying rounds of the World Baseball Classic. Under Ausmus, the Israelis have advanced all the way to Sunday’s final and are one win away from qualifying for the tournament.
If Team Israel wins Sunday and makes the tournament, Ausmus will be busy managing the team well into the month of March. That fact could have been a determining factor in Brad’s decision.
The Astros appear to be on a fast track to fill the position, and the potential of Ausmus being unavailable until March probably didn’t help his case anyway. I’m not saying the Astros are rushing the search, just that they are focused on the task at hand. Eight or nine candidates will have been interviewed by the end of the weekend and the decision-makers will meet Monday to determine what’s next. A decision could be made at that time, but it’s more likely that the field of candidates will be narrowed.
Jeff Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle:
"We will see (Monday) if we’re ready to make a decision or if there are any next steps. I feel good about the due diligence we’ve done on our side. We are really digging into various options and, more importantly, we’re very excited about the different possibilities."
Ausmus is the second candidate to pull himself out of the running for Houston’s managerial opening. Last week MLB Network analyst Larry Bowa did the same, citing that the organization’s most talented youngsters were still two or three years from the big leagues. Bowa, 66, said the Astros would be better suited to hire a younger man.
Candidates who have interviewed and appear to still be in the running include Tim Bogar, Tony DeFrancesco, Dave Martinez, and Bo Porter. I can’t see a clear-cut favorite among this group, but most Astros fans I have talked to would be happy with either Bogar or DeFrancesco. I think that could be partly due to familiarity. Both have spent time in the Astros organization, in turn, making fans more comfortable with them.
Bogar, 45, played for the Astros from 1997 to 2000. He also had a tremendous amount of success as a minor league manager in the Astros and Indians systems before becoming a big league coach. Success at the minor league level suggests Bogar has the ability to impart knowledge to younger players. This is a commodity the Astros sorely require.
DeFrancesco has won Astros fans over with the way he has gone about his business since taking over the team on an interim basis. He is uniquely familiar with the players on the the roster, and has a long and impressive track record as a minor league manager.
Martinez and Porter are considered top notch candidates by most “baseball people”. Both of their names have come up repeatedly over the last couple of years when potential candidates for big league managerial openings have been discussed.
Even if the Astros make a decision on Monday, we may not find out until later. Luhnow has stated that some of the candidates are working for playoff-bound teams. If one of those candidates gets the job an announcement could be withheld until his team’s playoff run is over.