Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is expected to sign a contract extension to return to the dugout in 2022, but pitching coach Brent Strom said he won’t be back.
The Astros’ season ended Tuesday night with a 7-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the World Series.
Baker’s contract was good through the 2021 season. USA Today reported Baker and Astros owner Jim Crane were set to meet Wednesday, and Baker sounded like a manager planning to come back.
“I’ve still got some unfinished business,” Baker, 72, said after the Game 6 loss. “I mean, I love these guys over here. I love the town of Houston. The fans are behind us.
“These guys, they gave it their all. They played through adversity, through a lot of stuff this whole year. We just kind of ran out of gas pitching-wise. Our guys, nobody complained, nobody alibied. And I’m not going to alibi. We got outplayed. What can you do, except go home, take a shower, figure out how you’re going to come back and win it next year.”
The Astros hired Baker before the 2020 season, signing him to a one-year deal with a team option for a second year. The veteran manager was called upon to stabilize a franchise that had been rocked by the sign-stealing scandal that led to the dismissals of manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Baker has managed four other teams — the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals — and has a career regular-season record of 1,987-1,734 in 24 seasons.
Baker apparently will have to go next season without Strom to manage the pitching staff. The 73-year-old Strom said after Game 6 that he intends to take time off without going so far as to say he’s retiring from baseball.
“We’ll see how I feel in a couple days,” said Strom, who pitched five seasons in the major leagues in the 1970s and has been coaching since 1992. “There may be another opportunity for me somewhere else. I may look at that. I may just go lie on a beach in Mexico, but I need to enjoy my life a little bit. I haven’t had a summer in a long time. So we’ll see. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I know I won’t be back as the major league pitching coach here. I know that for a fact.”
On the player front, star shortstop Carlos Correa is set to become a free agent. Baker is hopeful that the club can keep the two-time All-Star in Houston.
“He’s a gladiator,” Baker said. “He’s a warrior but a gentleman at the same time. I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him. I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they’re around second base.
“Win or lose, he doesn’t clown. He doesn’t showboat. He just plays the game the way it should be played.”
–Field Level Media