With Dusty Baker gone having left a fantastic managerial legacy, the Astros front office are back at work searching for the next manager to take his place. Houston's dynasty is still very much alive with relatively the same core still intact circa 2019. This includes seven straight ALCS, four pennants, and one year removed from a second World Series title dating back to 2017.
For the next manager, names such as bench coach Joe Espada has popped up as a potential candidate for the job. This is a sensible option, as Espada has been with the Astros since the 2018 season. Well admired by the team and front office, it would be a no-brainer to promote him due to his experience working under AJ Hinch and Baker.
Ron Washington is interested in being the Astros' next manager
However, reports have sprinkled surrounding the Astros decision to possibly look elsewhere, specifically Ron Washington. Washington, the current third base coach for the Atlanta Braves, has had an illustrious baseball career, both as a player and a coach. The sole managing gig was with the Texas Rangers from 2007-2014, during the heyday of the Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz era.
While it was an overall success, Washington's Rangers fell short of their first World Series ring in franchise history. Aside from winning back-to-back pennants, the Rangers got outclassed by the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and fell on the receiving end to one of the most infamous World Series matchups in MLB history. Twice the Rangers were one strike away from securing the chip in 2011. Thanks to Lance Berkman and David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals, that didn't happen.
Now at 71, Ron Washington, according to multiple reports from KHOU11 in Houston, is interested in the managerial role for the Astros. On paper, it's a great fit. As the Braves third base coach, Washington is beloved by the players and the front office in Atlanta. Additionally, the team regards him as integral to the winning culture during Atlanta's World Series ring in 2021. Here's why the Astros shouldn't hire him.
Washington is too similar to Dusty Baker
If you were told that the Astros were interested in hiring a candidate with a long history in the league both as a player and a coach, and is well past retirement age but is eager to win his first World Series ring, you'd think it's 2020 again and the candidate is Dusty Baker.
Sounds familiar right? There's a bit of a deja vu comparison of Dusty with the candidate of Ron Washington, Like Baker prior to 2022, Washington has yet to win a ring as a manager of a team. Not only that, Washington is 71 years old, the exact same age as Dusty Baker when he signed with Houston three years ago.
Hiring Washington would risk hiring a manager who may be out of touch of the modern MLB and makes decisions based on feeling, something that would be acceptable more than ten years ago. Most Astros fans don't want to relive that, especially the way the 2023 season went down.
Moreover, it's certainly not a long term deal if Washington were to sign with the Astros. The front office would constantly wonder if each year will be Washington's last because of his age. It would certainly be unwise if the Astros experienced a 2022 Tony La Russa scenario.
Ron Washington comes with some off the field baggage
Hiring Ron Washington may also unexpectedly dig up an unfortunate past. Back in 2014, Ron resigned from the Rangers manager position due to "personal reasons." Turns out, the personal reasons were related to an alleged assault towards a Rangers reporter, according toDan Bates of the DailyMail. Bates stated "Washington's sudden departure from the club was due to 'impending legal issues stemming from an alleged sexual assault of a reporter."' Washington's testing positive for cocaine in 2009 was also addressed in the article.
Houston's history of hiring players and front office members related to sexual, drug, and/or domestic assault goes as far back as 2018, when the Astros acquired former closer Roberto Osuna. This decision was mired with animosity by fellow teams and members of the MLB media, as Osuna was coming off a 75-game suspension due to a domestic assault case.
During the 2019 ALCS pennant champagne celebration, then assistant GM Brandon Taubman was seen taunting female reporters beaming "I'm so (expletive) glad we got Osuna!" Since 2019 and 2020, both Taubman and Osuna are no longer part of the Astros organization.
Houston needs a young and clean slate at manager
At this stage in their dynasty, the Astros would be wise to sidestep external drama and target a younger candidate for the managerial position. They should look for someone with a clean record, who is a players' coach, and has a grasp on analytics. Moreover, the ideal manager wouldn't form lineups based on favoritism but would select players best suited for the role in specific situations.
Opting for a younger manager might pave the way for a long-term commitment, propelling the Astros on the right foot into the next phase of their dynasty. Before Dusty Baker's tenure, fans rallied around AJ Hinch; many anticipated he would be the Bobby Cox of the Astros' dynasty. Houston should now set their sights on a similar caliber of hire.