Dusty Baker is back in the fold with Houston for another season.
Usually when a manager and general manager team up to accomplish what Dusty Baker and Houston Astros general manager Jim Click have in the past three seasons, the owner immediately locks them up long-term and pays them handsomely for their services so that he can continue to sleep like a baby at night. But it seems nothing is ever exactly as it appears with the Houston Astros. Several days after the parade of 2022 MLB champions moved through downtown Houston, Click remains in limbo concerning his job security for next season.
Baker, who not only erased some of the stain of the 2017 cheating scandal, but managed personalities, differences between the owner and the general manager and rowdy fanbases who constantly reminded the Astros of their tainted chip at most stops along the journey, was awarded another shot.
Crane introduced Dusty during a Wednesday press conference on MLB Network. He addressed Dusty’s one-year deal.
“I don’t need to talk about Dusty, he’s a legend,” Crane said. “We said around August that we would wait until the season is over and see what he wants to do.”
“I’m happy to be back. I had an idea to be back, but I wanted to complete the task we had at hand. The quest for the championship. I’m glad we got it done. We will see what goes from there.”
Some see a one-year deal as a slap in the face for a guy who navigated this franchise through treacherous waters and not only got them to the promised land but ran that ship as professionally as it could be done. He’s the perfect manager and a father figure to the young men who cleat up every day under his leadership.
Tony LaRussa was given an opportunity to manage the White Sox as a living legend in his 70s. There were doubts about LaRussa’s old school style blending with the new school energy that the White Sox were bringing, led by Tim Anderson. LaRussa didn’t do himself any favors catching a DUI off the rip. Then there were some cultural differences that arose and making it worse, the team underachieved. That experiment failed.
But the 73-year-old Baker showed everyone how it’s done. How you take a talented team with a bruised ego and a target on their back, galvanize the entire locker room, help them tune out the noise, invest in each other and a respect for the game of baseball. Dusty dodged the naysayers, slayed the analytics critics, worked his bullpen like Hit Boy on the beat, merging generations of baseball into one modern day World Series machine.
It seems like a no-brainer, but Astros owner Jim Crane is dragging his feet on Click because word is he really doesn’t really like him.
GM James Click doesn’t have a contract for 2023 and beyond. It’s not because he hasn’t produced. It’s not because he doesn’t see himself living in Houston. The 44-year-old Click reportedly loves the community and wants to plant roots there with his family. The owner just doesn’t really like him. They don’t…”CLICK”
Crane claims that the two sides have started discussions but Click had to depart for the GM meetings and they will resume negotiations. Click reportedly told reporters that he plans on being with the Astros next season, but “he and Jim Crane have different styles.”
“And everything that happened with the Astros is downstream of this reality, ” says MLB Network reporter Jon Morosi, live from the GM meetings in Las Vegas.
“When you acknowledge that (they don’t rock with each other) the rest of this uncertainty makes complete sense. Jim Crane is not certain that James Click is the guy to lead baseball operations for the Houston Astros in the future. In his three years as GM in Houston they’ve gone to the ALCS Game 7, World Series Game 6 and a World Series title. So, James Click by any objective reckoning has earned himself …a multi-year extension based on his success.”
Concerning Dusty’s one-year offer, many people in the baseball community find it insulting, regardless of whether or not it suits Dusty just fine. He is up there in years. At 73, he’s the oldest current MLB manager. He’s a cancer survivor, he might want to travel and watch his son Darren’s minor league rise. Dusty literally has NOTHING left to prove so it should be his decision on whether or not he wants to return. And by all accounts, he’s ready to do it again. At the very least, however, Dusty should have been offered at least a three-year deal. Or his one-year deal should have options based on certain achievements met.
It helps that Dusty is growing closer to the city each season. He says that threats of COVID had limited his ability to really explore the city, but this was the first season that he was able to really get a taste of Houston and the fans.
“I saw a different side of the city that I’ve seen lately. I live in California, but I feel like this is my second home.”
So, it looks like Dusty will be back, but it’s clear that Jim Crane isn’t appreciative of how impressive and improbable the World Series was for the Astros organization. Ownership did everything it could to separate itself from the Astros 2017 scandal while still reaping the benefits of the World Series win. Dusty made it look easy because he’s a renowned leader of men and a baseball savant. The man just gave a masterclass on how you manage through turmoil and get the most out of a championship caliber team.
Dusty says he’s more than happy with one more shot, a chance to go back-to-back and really go out on top. Cito Gaston is the only Black manager to win consecutive World Series and he did it in the most dramatic fashion. Whatever is going on with Crane and Clicks seems to be personal. Dusty addressed his relationship with the GM and dispelled any rumors of a stressed partnership. All that aside, Dusty definitely deserves a multiple-year contract offer just out of respect and appreciation, because he saved Jim Crane’s franchise and made him a lot more money.
“It was a very easy decision,” Dusty said at the presser on Wednesday. “I like the city. I love the players and above all I love to win. And I see us winning for some time. We have a great nucleus and a young pitching staff. This is what I was called to do. I think God called me here to Houston to do this. I’d be going against what I was destined to do If I did anything else at this time.”