Dusty Baker will be the next manager of the Houston Astros. Weeks after former manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired in the wake of team's sign-stealing controversy, the Astros have begun to move on. Baker has dealt with adversity before and was a smart choice to take the job.
The 70-year-old Baker has faced a ton of criticism and has been through a lot during his 52 years in Major League Baseball. Aside from having a successful playing career in which he won a World Series and was a two-time All-Star, he's also been named National League Manager of the Year three times. He has a long history in the game, with more successes than failures.
The Astros are going to face an onslaught of criticism from every corner during the 2020 season. It will be a level of anger from fans we haven't seen in a long time. They will be baseball's most hated team because many believe everything they've achieved over the past three seasons has been illegitimate. Baker has seen that kind of ire before.
An old-school manager, Baker has long faced criticism for his overuse of pitchers, his failure to win big games and his inability to adapt to the new way the game is played. He also managed Barry Bonds when he was baseball's most hated player. Baker dealt with all of that and still managed to be successful. Despite ups and downs, his career managerial record is .532 over 22 years in the big leagues. His teams have also won seven division titles.
His last stint in the big leagues was as the manager of the Washington Nationals in 2016 and 2017. The Nats won the NL East in both seasons and went 192-132 (.593) combined. They failed to make noise in the postseason though, and he was subsequently let go.
Baker's teams usually have the reputation of playing exceptionally hard and avoiding off-field distractions. That's exactly what the Astros need to do in 2020. Houston will need to take an "us against the world" approach this season, and Baker will almost certainly embrace that attitude as well.
Is Baker a great long-term fit in Houston? Probably not. He likely doesn't have many years of managing left in him, so it makes sense that he signed a one-year deal.
But right now, in this moment, he's a great fit for what the Astros need.