News broke shortly after the Astros were eliminated in the ALCS that Dusty Baker would be retiring. While the Astros did succeed a great deal under Baker, much of it was under players the previous front office regimes had brought in and developed.
There was great hope that under a new manager, the Astros may revert to some of their analytical routes.
Just yesterday we previewed five candidates to replace Baker as Astros manager, and under multiple listed a return to a more analytical approach than Baker's always stagger your lefties because that's how we did it in the old days managerial style.
Sadly, according to Brian McTaggart's latest Astros Beat Newsletter, such a hope may have been nothing more than a pipe dream.
McTaggart took a stab at answering who will manage the Astros in 2024, and said this:
" The Astros will look to get younger in the managerial role in what will be an attractive job. Dana Brown, who was hired as GM just before Spring Training, will have a say in who’s in the manager’s chair, but owner Jim Crane and Jeff Bagwell, the team’s senior advisor to ownership and baseball operations, will oversee finding the next Astros skipper."- Brian McTaggart
What will Jim Crane and Jeff Bagwell mess up this time?
That is just miserable news to read. Jeff Bagwell and Jim Crane combined to oversee an off-season that brought in Jose Abreu, Rafael Montero and Michael Brantley for $60 million and -0.4 WAR.
Abreu was bad for the overwhelming majority of the year, Montero couldn't get any outs when it mattered and reverted to the reliever he was every year leading into 2023, and Brantley played 15 games.
Jeff Bagwell, franchise legend or not, is the type of old-school "baseball mind" that will set a franchise back. The Astros Golden Era was built on the back of a forward-thinking, cutting edge approach. Jeff Luhnow and James Click never would have made the moves the Astros made leading into 2023.
Jim Crane has two World Series rings to his name and untold additional millions in the bank on the backs of seven years of a dynasty. That dynasty wasn't built with old heads calling the shots. It was names like Luhnow, Click, Mike Elias, Sig Medjal, and David Stearns among others.
If his advisor track record remains the same, Bagwell will advocate for a name like Buck Showalter as a new manager because they've "seen it all."
Jeff Bagwell was a great Astros player. He does not need to be an Astros executive.
Dana Brown was brought in because he had an exceptional track record in front offices across the MLB. Let him make his mark. Why even have a GM if he's nothing more than a yes man for the owner and his friends?
The Astros window of contention has begun to close. If they make the right hire and reset their approach to their old ways, they can open the window wide once again. If Jeff Bagwell has another off-season with more of a say than Dana Brown, the window will be slammed shut.