When the Houston Astros fired manager AJ Hinch in the wake of Major League Baseball's scathing report about the team's regimen for stealing opponents' pitching signs, they had a consequential choice ahead of them. Ultimately, they've decided that the man to lead their organization is essentially the polar opposite of Hinch.
Per insider Bob Nightengale, Dusty Baker will be named Houston's next skipper.
Baker, who will turn 71 this season, has seen a little bit of everything. He led the Giants to the 2002 NL pennant in his first managerial gig, and went on to take the helms of the Cubs and Reds. His last stop was in Washington -- the same team that bested the Astros in the World Series under Baker successor Dave Martinez -- where he was let go after the 2017 campaign.
The message the Astros will send in hiring Baker is clear: every last remnant of what was in place under Hinch and ousted general manager Jeff Luhnow is to be expunged. Bleached. Bug-bombed.
In so many ways, Astros owner Jim Crane is playing it as safe as he possibly could have played it. Baker's hire is an orthodox one, but also the kind of leader you need if the name of the game is to keep things from spinning out of control. And of course, he'll have a heck of a lot of talent to work with from the jump.