The Houston Astros are the reigning World Series champions and enter MLB games today with a 76 percent chance of making the playoffs. However, it seems far from a guarantee that manager Dusty Baker will return to the team in 2024.
Under owner Jim Crane, the Astros have developed a reputation for making abrupt changes to the staff. Houston’s former general manager James Click was the architect behind the 2022 World Series champions and is viewed as one of the better talent evaluators in MLB. However, he wasn’t brought back by the Astros this season after they refused to offer him a multi-year contract.
- Dusty Baker record (Houston Astros): 317-226 (.584), 28-14 in postseason
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Replaced by general manager Dana Brown, Houston has fallen short of expectations this season. It’s expected to lose the AL West to the Texas Rangers, marking just the second time since 2017 that the Astros haven’t won their division. If they fail to win the sixth AL Wild Card spot, Houston would miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season.
As Houston’s skipper, Baker has one of the best managerial records in MLB. He also helped the team reach the World Series twice and has reversed his postseason woes with a 28-14 record in October. However, some internal conflict during the year could now put him in the hot seat.
As detailed by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker and Brown were at odds earlier this season over the skipper’s reluctance to give more playing time to rookie catcher Yainer Diaz. In September, Chandler Rome of The Athletic reported that Baker’s refusal to give outfielder Chas McCormick more playing time was a “constant source of frustration” for some within the Astros’ front office.
Even if Houston makes the playoffs, it might not be enough to save Baker. Rosenthal writers that an ‘early exit could prompt’ Crane to move on from Baker.
In addition to Baker’s lineup decisions causing some frustration within the organization, the team’s play late in the season has also been a concern. In September, Houston has a 10-14 record that ranks as the seventh-worst in MLB. After leading the AL West, it’s put the club in jeopardy of missing the playoffs entirely.
If the Astros decide to part ways with Baker, Rosenthal raised the possibility of Brown looking towards the Atlanta Braves for his next skipper. Having worked there previously, Brown has strong relationships with coaches Eric Young Sr. and Walt Weiss, but Astros’ bench coach Joe Espada could also be a candidate to replace Baker.