HOUSTON — Neither manager Dusty Baker nor general manager James Click has a contract for next year with the Astros, an unusual and perplexing situation for a team that made the World Series last year and is in the ALCS again this season. But while rumors are floating around about both men, sources have said Baker will be invited back to manage in 2023.
Click’s Astros future, however, seems surprisingly uncertain. Owner Jim Crane personally hired Click, but indications are the owner believes his GM has put too great an emphasis on analytics. The odd thing is, Click followed Jeff Luhnow, who was known for taking analytics to a new level before he was fired following Houston’s signal-stealing scandal.
Click, asked why his return could be an issue after the Astros won 107 games, said, “That’s not a question for me.”
Crane also texted: “I will make a decision after the season is over on both contracts. That has not changed.”
The owner hired Baker, who should be a Hall of Famer and more importantly was the perfect front man for the team as it transitioned out of the scandal, before tapping Click, a relatively unknown executive from the admired, analytic Rays organization. While none of the three key decisionmakers seem especially close, Crane’s belief that Baker knows what he’s doing is enough to earn him a return invitation.
Baker said he’s only thinking about the ALCS now.
“I ain’t worried. Worrying does no good,” said the manager, who wouldn’t talk about his preference, but is reportedly open to returning. “I believe the Lord will always take care of me. It’s been that way my whole life. I had cancer, then I had a stroke … then this job opened up.”
Click and Baker, while both congenial fellows, were an odd pairing from the start, and they don’t appear especially aligned. It’s Baker’s call to use the Astros’ big deadline pickups, Christian Vazquez and Trey Mancini, only sparingly. Click admitted Vazquez and Mancini haven’t put up the same numbers as on their previous teams, but didn’t dispute he and Baker aren’t always in agreement.
“What we have here is a healthy group of different opinions,” Click said.
Crane is said to be hands-on, and as an example he offered star shortstop Carlos Correa $160 million over five years when very few of his baseball people wanted to go there. As it turned out, Correa signed a record one-year deal with the Twins, and the Astros replaced him with rookie Jeremy Peña, who has played very well and is demonstrating the same clutch gene as Correa this October.
Click seems to know what he’s doing, and the expectation is he’d be coveted if he becomes a free-agent executive.
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