On Monday, the Houston Astros shook the baseball world by firing manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow immediately after Major League Baseball suspended both for their involvement in an elaborate sign-stealing scheme.
Before the dust had settled on their respective dismissals, fans and media were already compiling their list of dream replacements. Not surprisingly, the Astros were doing the same, according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. When it comes to the managerial opening, McTaggart’s sources say many of the fans’ and media’s top choices to succeed Hinch match those of Houston’s ownership.
The Astros’ search for a manager to replace A.J. Hinch will stretch beyond just bench coach Joe Espada, with owner Jim Crane opening up a national search that will include experienced names like Bruce Bochy, Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter.
Espada, Bochy, Baker and Showalter are among the candidates Crane is considering, a source told MLB.com on Wednesday. Other names on the team’s early list are former Rangers manager Jeff Banister, Cubs third-base coach Will Venable and Dodgers special assistant Raúl Ibañez. KRIV-TV in Houston was the first to report the names.
It’s a star-studded list. Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy and Buck Showalter immediately stand out because of their experience and unique circumstances.
Despite the on-going turmoil and the chaos that is sure to follow, the Astros will enter the 2020 season as World Series contenders. It's a dynamic unlike anything we've seen in MLB. Having a manager that's been through everything short of this scenario would seemingly aid the process. That is why Baker, Bochy and Showalter have been most frequently suggested for this job and the Boston Red Sox job that also just opened up.
Each could also quickly restore a level of respect and integrity to a position and an organization that has lost plenty of both over the past few months.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at their respective credentials and why they might be the best fit for Houston.
A three-time National League Manager of the Year, Baker has racked up 1,863 career wins over 20 seasons with four different teams. Baker has taken each of those four teams to the playoffs, but has notably come up short of winning a World Series championship. He last managed the Washington Nationals to a 192-132 record in 2016 and 2017, only to watch them defeat Houston in the 2019 World Series. That disappointment could prove to be motivation for all involved.
Bochy stepped down as Giants manager following the 2019 season, but it never sounded like a firm retirement. That could put the three-time World Series champion in a prime position to be a short-term answer for Houston. Bochy has won 2,003 games over 25 seasons with the Padres and Giants. He also has endless postseason experience and a calm demeanor that could serve the Astros well.
Showalter is another steady hand with a track record of regular-season success. He has accumulated 1,551 wins over 20 seasons with four different teams. Like Baker, Showalter's teams have traditionally fallen short in the postseason. That dynamic could provide an extra boost for both the manager and the players.
As noted by McTaggart, it’s not set in stone that Houston will hire an experienced skipper. But throwing an inexperienced person into this position may not be a desirable option. We should have a clear answer soon. The Astros hope to have a new manager in place by February.
More from Yahoo Sports: