Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker can make history this season, but suffered a setback as his team will be without one of his top players for an unspecified amount of time.
Jose Altuve suffered a broken right thumb during the semifinal game of the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s a massive blow,” Astros general manager Dana Brown told mlb.com. “Right now, there’s no timeline because the doctor’s got to go in and get this deal done. It’s unfortunate that it is a fracture that was revealed by the MRI and he’s going to have to have surgery on it.”
Definitely not the news Baker and the Astros organization wanted to hear as he’ll look to lead his team to another World Series title this season.
Baker is looking to become just the second Black manager to win back-to-back World Series titles, joining Cito Gaston who won titles in 1992 and 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Altuve has been a key piece to the team’s success and with his absence, Baker will need to find a replacement for a player who can get it done at the plate and in the field.
It’s never easy for a team in any sport to win consecutive titles. And when your eight-time all-star and two-time World Series champ will miss the start of the season, that doesn’t make things any easier.
What will Dusty Baker’s team will look like without Jose Altuve?
Baker is going into his third season leading the Astros and is looking for his second title as a manager and third overall.
He will certainly have a decision to make as the season approaches regarding who will replace Altuve with at second base. According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, Mauricio Dubon and David Hensley will look to fill in for Altuve as he is away.
But you can believe that without Altuve, Baker is going to put his best team out there and will expect them to compete at a high level. There’s no question that Baker wants to win back-to-back titles and even though the Astros lost one of their top pitchers in Justin Verlander during the offseason, and now Altuve for some time, this team will still be a force to reckon. One of the best pitching staffs in baseball will help the Astros whether the storm.
Dusty’s boys will need to start off strong
The first few months of the season will be critical for Baker and his team. They are going to find out quickly how Altuve’s loss will impact the team chemistry.
In a perfect world, Baker would not have to worry about any injuries or personnel changes and do things the way he wants. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. All eyes will be on Baker and the Astros at the start of the season. The silver lining? Baker has over 2000 career victories and knows a thing or two about winning, and his record with the Astros (230-154) speaks for itself. He will get his team together and make sure they are clicking on all cylinders come March 30th.
Dusty Baker was pretty low key this offseason, enjoying the fruits of his labor. Years of resilience and brilliance that culminated with the 73-year-old MLBbro manager’s first World Series Championship.
The Astros made sure that they secured Baker for at least one more season, giving him an opportunity to become the first Black manager to go back-to-back since Cito Gaston led the Blue Jays to such heights in 1992-93.
Houston Astros Change General Managers Late In Offseason
Despite the team’s dominating success since Baker’s arrival in 2020, Astros GM James Click wasn’t rewarded for the World Series. Salary differences and a “philosophical rift” with owner Jim Crane led to the organization parting ways with the 45-year-old talented executive. That fracture led to the ascension of Dana Brown, giving the Astros an All-Bro show as the only team in MLB with a Black manager and general manager.
Dana Brown Becomes Second Black General Manager Of Astros | Former Braves Exec Follows Path Of Bob Watson In Houston #MLBbro
The change of leadership wasn’t as smooth a transition as the team probably hoped, which led to an unproductive offseason. The Astros are loaded and have MLBbro Michael Brantley back and healthy, but is Dusty confident that the team he is forming this season can repeat as champs?
Baker would have loved to add a veteran arm to replace future Hall of famer Justin Verlander who jetted to the Big Apple, inking a two-year deal with the Mets.
Here’s what Mr. 2000 had to say on Thursday when asked whether the Astros considered pursuing a quality starter over the winter (via Chandler Rome):
“You got to ask the powers that be. I got the power, but not the authority. That was always a consideration for me … We didn’t have a general manager in place in order to make that move.”
Brown didn’t get hired until late January and by then the fee agent cupboard was bare as teams had already ravaged the high-end pitching and position players.
Dusty Has To Master Bullpen To Win
The Astros have been able to withstand stretches where they lacked an ace starter. Baker’s experience, and acumen and array of international arms has allowed the oldschooler to piece together games in the way that modern ball teams maneuver pitching to secure wins these days. He also managed the aging Verlander well, limiting him to a certain number of innings.
The repeat is always harder than the first championship. Personnel and chemistry changes are inevitable. Some players will let down or have off seasons. Unexpected injuries occur. The addition of Jose Abreu should help. But will every move Dusty makes play out like a perfect movie script as it did in 2022? Will rookie Alex Pena continue to ascend or hit a sophomore wall? Will stalwarts Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman show any signs of aging or decline?
Can Dusty Baker’s Boyz Produce Another World Series Championship?
There are many questions to be answered, and you would think that finding an adequate replacement for Verlander as the stopper of the staff, would be first priority. Every championship squad (usually) needs a guy you hand the ball to stop a losing streak. Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier will naturally be stepping into larger roles. The first move general manager Dana Brown made with the Astros was to extend Cristian Javier. The five-year, $64 million deal could end up being a steal if Javier continues his current trajectory.
Baker seems to be slightly concerned, but confident that his roster is deep and talented enough to overcome any lack of star power. We’ll see come October. With improvements around the league, Baker will have to produce another career-performance from the bench. In 2022, enroute to his first World Series championship, just eight total pitchers made starts for Baker and pitching coach Josh Miller, and just seven made more than two.
Baker will have no shortage of decisions to make throughout the 162-game season as the Astros, fresh off a “clean” World Series title, go into this campaign as the hunted. And maybe a bit shorthanded.
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.”
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker added to his list of all-time accolades by winning his 49th playoff game as a manager on Wednesday night when his Astros no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-0 in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series.
Dusty Baker and his team came into Wednesday’s World Series game reeling and looking to even the series up at 2-2. His team did that and more, making history with the second World Series no hitter ever. It was a combined effort with 25-year-old pitcher Cristian Javier going six innings and four other pitchers cleaning it up and closing it out in a 5-0 win in Game 4.
The Philadelphia Phillies destroyed the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 3 and Baker made some questionable decisions during that game. The big one was leaving his starting pitcher, Lance McCullers Jr., in a little too long as he gave up all seven runs in 4.1 innings of work.
But Game 4 was a much different story as Javier, was dialed in the entire game and the offense showed up in a big way.
Baker did not have much to worry about this game as Javier and his teammates were untouchable up there on the mound. All he had to do was sit back and enjoy that performance by his team. Keep tabs on the game and make sure this was a 5-0 lead his team wouldn’t surrender like it did in Game 1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Javier struck out the side and didn’t even break a sweat out there. Baker decided to take Javier out right before the bottom of the seventh inning began. He finished with nine strikeouts and did not allow a hit. Houston was able to break the game open in the fifth inning. The Astros threatened with two men on and nobody out and the ALCS MVP, Jeremy Pena was up to bat against Aaron Nola.
Nola struck out Pena twice before his third at-bat and with the count at 0-1, Pena squared around to bunt, but fouled it off, and Dusty Baker immediately put his head down in what looked like a missed opportunity. But the first rookie in MLB history to win a Gold Glove delivered with his stick and roped a single to left field with the count at 2-2 to load the bases up.
After that Nola’s night was done as he finished with four strikeouts in four innings. The Phillies bullpen did not allow a run during the World Series, but when Jose Alvarado took the mound, he hit Yordan Alvarez on the first pitch and the Astros took a 1-0 lead. That was the Astros first run in 15 innings.
And then Alex Bregman, who has a history of having success in World Series games, came through again with a two-run double. Houston ended up putting up five runs in the top of the fifth, which was more than enough. It was all smiles for Baker and his team after a dominating performance. With the series tied, Baker will put the rock in the hands of Justin Verlander for Game 5. Verlander has never won a World Series game in his illustrious career. It’s definitely a legacy game for the two future first ballot Hall of Famers.