When Dusty Baker announced his retirement from managing right after the Houston Astros' 2023 season ended, it wasn't completely out of nowhere. Dusty had given hints over the last year that he was contemplating hanging it up. At 74 years old, he was at the age when a lot of coaches decide to call it quits and enjoy time with their families away from the grind of 162 game seasons.
Things did get a little weird afterwards, however. Dusty would explain that one factor in his decision to retire was that he was tired of all the scrutiny from the media and "bloggers and tweeters" regarding the decisions that he was making as manager and didn't want to deal with it anymore. Again, his position is understandable even if also lacks a certain amount of self-awareness that some of the decisions he made DID require some level of scrutiny.
However, an interesting development happened a couple days ago when it was revealed that Dusty was rejoining the Giants' organization as a special assistant and it may indicate that there was more that went into his decision to retire than it initially appeared.
Did Dusty Baker leave the Astros because he saw a big transition coming?
It always seemed strange that 74 year old Dusty Baker was seemingly up late at night reading mean tweets about him from folks with 50 followers and a bunch of numbers in their handles. Being under a microscope and criticized for one's decisions in the manager's chair is par for the course everywhere and Dusty knew what he was signing up for given his history in some pretty big markets.
Dusty's new job will certainly not be as demanding as managing as he lives in the area and he won't have nearly as many day-to-day responsibilities. He will also not have to deal with questions from the media which should be a nice bonus. At his age, no one would blame him for wanting to take things a bit slower and stay around the game especially with an organization that he is very familiar with.
However, giving up a prime manager spot for one of the best teams in all of baseball to stick in baseball in a lesser role with a worse team somehow doesn't pass the smell test. What does make sense is that Dusty probably knew that a big chunk of the Astros' core in Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, and Framber Valdez are set to hit free agency soon and that the team had little payroll room to make big moves to contend. Dusty excels at a number of things, but he most certainly doesn't thrive in any sort of rebuilding environment.
When you combine all of that with where Dusty is in his life and some obvious disdain for anyone questioning his judgment and you have a perfect storm that ultimately led to his departure. One can only hope that Dusty's decision works out for both sides in the long-term.