John McClain: Dusty’s back as the Astros prepare for another run

Mandatory Credit: Photo by JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13610397cq) Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker celebrates after the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in game six to win the World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, USA, 05 November 2022. MLB Philaldephia Phillies at Houston Astros, USA – 05 Nov 2022

John McClain: Dusty’s back as the Astros prepare for another run

The Astros made manager Dusty Baker’s return in 2023 official on Wednesday when owner Jim Crane made the announcement at a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

Baker, who turns 74 in June, gets another one-year contract for a fourth season with the Astros after guiding them to a World Series conquest of the Phillies.

“I’m excited to have Dusty back,” Crane said. “It was a great season. He’s a legend. It took about 15 minutes to get it done, and I’m happy to say he’s back for another year.”

It’s taking longer than 15 minutes to get general manager James Click to sign a new contract. Click is in Las Vegas this week for the general manager meetings.

“James has done a good job,” Crane said. “It’s the same timeline as Dusty. We were able to sit down a while before he left. We’re in discussions. When he gets back, we’ll complete those discussions.”

At Baker’s age, he is not going to get a multiyear contract, and he is satisfied with one-year deals. Click, 44, may want a multiyear contract to return for a fourth season. Crane would not disclose specifics about his negotiations with Click.

“Our job is to keep the product fresh to help us keep winning games, and I think everybody has done a good job of that,” Crane said. “We’re already working on what we can do to make this team even better.”

Crane said everyone in the organization will get a World Series ring, but they better stay on their toes because he wants to repeat as champions.

“I’m never satisfied,” Crane said. “I press everybody to get better, top to bottom. I’m always looking for us to improve. I can improve. The standard is there for everyone to get better.”

The Astros could be better if pitcher Justin Verlander signs an extension rather than opt out of the last year of his contract and become a free agent. He still could be signed to a new deal after he sees what other teams are willing to offer him.

“Justin had a great year,” Crane said. “We have a good relationship with him. We’ve been talking to him. We’re going to do our best to keep him.”

With Baker returning, as expected, the Astros should be in position to repeat. He did not hide that he wanted to return for his 56th season in Major League Baseball and his 26th as a manager.

“My thing is to win a pennant again next year,” Baker said. “I love winning. I’m spoiled by winning. I plan on doing some more winning.

“I’m glad we got it done, and I’m happy to be back. I meant what I said: We have a chance to win back-to-back (titles).”

Baker was asked about his relationship with Click. After the cheating scandal was exposed, they were hired in 2020 to replace A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow.

“It’s a good relationship,” Baker said. “We’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time. The secret is to learn how to co-exist in the workplace. That’s how you find a successful formula.”

In his first three seasons, Baker helped the Astros compile a 230-154 record, second-best to the Dodgers. In the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season, he led the Astros to within one game of the World Series when they lost a seventh game to the Rays in the ALCS. One year later, Baker guided them to the World Series, where they lost in six games to the Braves.

This season, Baker led the Astros to 106 victories, second-most in team history. They blew through the ALDS and ALCS with a 7-0 sweep of the Mariners and Yankees before defeating the Phillies in six games for their second World Series title in six years.

Now that Crane knows Baker will be back, he has to convince Click to return or find a new general manager. If they can’t reach an agreement, Click should have no trouble finding another job considering the success he has had with the Astros.

And Crane should have no trouble finding a general manager to replace Click. There would be candidates thrilled to work for a dynasty that could extend into 2023 as the favorite to win another World Series.

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Monday and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *