The Houston Astros will interview veteran skipper Dusty Baker on Monday, writes MLB.com’s Matt Kelly (crediting Jon Paul Morosi). Baker has also drawn interest from the Mets to fill their recent opening. While the Astros and Baker have connected, Baker has yet to hear from the Mets (or Red Sox), per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
Baker managed an even 3,500 games across four stints in the majors. The Giants (1993-2002), the Cubs (2003-2006), the Reds (2008-2013) and Nationals (2016-2017) all enjoyed regular season success with Baker at the helm.
Baker hasn’t made much traction in the managerial market since parting ways with the Nationals, but unique circumstances in New York and Houston may open the door for the 70-year-old Baker to return to the bench. Certainly, Baker can handle the media scrutiny that will comes with stepping into the spotlight vacated by A.J. Hinch or Carlos Beltran, respectively.
Baker is no stranger to public scrutiny. He oversaw the Giants through Barry Bonds’ record-breaking home run season and the Cubs during their 2003 playoff collapse and the what-ifs of the Kerry Wood-Mark Prior era. He’s also the only manager in the last 24 years to take the Reds to the playoffs, which he did three times.
Playoff disappointment has also been a feature of Baker teams, however. After twice losing in the first round, Baker took the 2002 Giants to the World Series and lost. The Cubs heartbreak followed. He was unable to get either the Reds or Nationals out of the first round, getting eliminated in a winner-take-all game in each of his last four postseason appearances.
Of course, a manager cannot be solely held accountable for playoff losses, and Baker would certainly provide a semblance of much-needed stability to either franchise. Houston has said they want to have the opening filled by February 3rd.