Astros' new manager is getting rave reviews down at spring training

Joe Espada's tenure as the Astros manager is off to a great start so far.
Cincinnati Reds v Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds v Houston Astros / Bob Levey/GettyImages

When Dusty Baker retired as the Houston Astros' manager after the 2023 season, there was a mixed reaction from Astros fans.

On the one hand, Baker had some truly annoying habits as a manager, ranging from how he constructed lineups and doled out playing time to his in-game decision-making and bullpen management. However, he also put up results, including finally winning his first World Series as a manager in 2022.

As a result, there was a legitimate concern that the team could drop off despite Baker's warts in 2024, unless the team made the right decision with his replacement. It took a little bit of time after Baker retired, but the team ultimately settled on promoting bench coach Joe Espada into the role.

It's still extremely early in Espada's tenure as manager, but the early reviews are in and it seems as though the Astros are loving the direction Espada is taking the team in spring training so far.

Astros players are loving Joe Espada's communication and honesty

For most players, they just want to be kept in the loop. For many older managers, they don't want to be questioned, nor do they want to ever explain their decisions to anyone in a classic "trust me bro" sort of way. Espada is clearly not that guy, as players like Jake Meyers, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker have all gone on record recently praising Espada's communication and transparency with the team.

In many ways, hiring Espada was the best-case scenario for the Astros. Houston has been a very good team for a long time, so changing more than was necessary probably would've been a bad idea. Espada knows how the team operates and has kept a lot of the good things the organization has established while adding his own personal stamp and choices in hopes of improvement. Given the players' familiarity with him, Espada's decisions are trusted, especially since he's diligent in his processes.

Ultimately, the biggest thing that Espada will be graded on as manager is in wins and losses, and it remains to be seen how that will shake out in 2024. However, given the strength of the Astros' roster and how much the team is buying in to his message down at camp, Espada's stock is high as Opening Day approaches.

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