The Astros laid an absolute egg last night, getting blown off their own field by their division rival Rangers. As soon as the game ended, news broke that Dusty Baker is likely to retire.
If this is it for Baker, he finishes with a 320-226 record as Astros manager. The Astros made the ALCS all four years under Baker, twice winning the pennant and once winning the World Series.
Here are 5 potential new managers for the Houston Astros
Baker brought stability when needed, and deserves a great deal of appreciation for that, but even before the news of his impending retirement broke, it was undoubtedly time for the Astros to go in another direction. His loyalty to underperforming veterans and refusal to play young talent cost the Astros down the stretch.
Let's see who may be calling the Astros lineup shots next year.
Joe Espada has been the Astros bench coach since the 2018 season. He knows the clubhouse culture intimately well, and has been a managerial candidate outside of the organization in recent off-seasons.
Espada landed the plane in Game 5 after Dusty Baker's ejection, making the pivotal decision to pinch-hit for Jeremy Peña.
Espada has been a bench coach on a World Series winning team under two different managers and would bring consistency if he is the hire. While it can't be known for sure, one would anticipate Espada would embrace analytics and the front office input in a way Dusty Baker never did.
Espada is the more obvious choice, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Crane make a bigger splash.