The Astros’ sign-stealing scandal from their World Series-winning 2017 season has cost them a GM and a manager this week. The club let go of Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, who were regarded as two of the best in the game at their jobs, on Monday after Major League Baseball suspended them for one season apiece. So what’s next for the Astros? Owner Jim Crane spoke about the team’s direction Friday with Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and other reporters.
Houston has hit the ground running in its managerial search, having reportedly interviewed two out-of-work candidates – John Gibbons and Buck Showalter – as well as Cubs third base coach Will Venable this week. Venable hasn’t managed before, but prior experience in that role is “not mandatory, by any means,” according to Crane. To that end, would the Astros consider one of their franchise legends? Crane didn’t shoot down the possibility of hiring, say, Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio.
“We’ve talked to all of our Killer Bs and they’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed interest that they’d like to help,” Crane said (via Rome). “Berkman, Bagwell and Biggio have all called me and said, ’Hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’ We’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”
Regardless of whether Venable or one of the Killer Bs lands the gig, the Astros’ goal is to find a replacement for Hinch by Feb. 3, per Crane, who noted the team’s current coaching staff should stay largely intact under its next manager. The Astros don’t expect to make “any wholesale changes” to their list of coaches, Crane revealed.
While the Astros have already gotten going on talks with potential new managers, Crane indicated they won’t begin interviewing GM possibilities until next week. The individuals who end up occupying the Astros’ two suddenly vacant, high-profile positions will be inheriting one of the most talented teams in the game – a club fresh off a World Series appearance and three consecutive 100-win seasons.