There hasn’t been much scuttlebutt in terms of the Astros’ GM vacancy – but a number of names have been floated for their next manager. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale observes that the current known pool of candidates leans heavily toward veteran, respected leaders (Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, John Gibbons), while MLB Network insider Jon Heyman succinctly recaps what makes this hiring situation so very unique. The front office executives left behind in Houston would likely lean towards a more contemporary approach, given their heavily analytical approach, but with spring training not that far off, owner Jim Crane made the decision to hire his next field manager personally. Bringing in a field manager before the next general manager is not the ideal process, writes The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, but little about the Astros’ current situation is.
- Cubs third base coach Will Venable is the exception to Nightengale’s observation. When asked today at the Cubs Convention if he’d be leaving, Venable said plainly, “No, I’m not.” This, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter) and many others in attendance – though Venable did walk back the absolute denial a little bit later in the day (covered in depth by The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma here). Sitting bench coach Joe Espada has also been speculated about, though given the circumstances, an outside hire seems like the prohibitive favorite. For what it’s worth, MLBTR readers settled this issue just two days ago, electing Buck Showalter as the best choice with 34% of the vote.
- Now a few days removed from the release of the Commissioner’s verdict on the sign-stealing scandal, most Houston Astros players have avoided public comment. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman did speak to the media today, expressing empathy for A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, while denying any use of wearable tech, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. The Commissioner’s report found no evidence of wearable tech utilized by Astros players in 2019. Still, The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan writes, the organizational response (or lack thereof) from players on the whole misses an appropriate measure of contrition. As players participated in the Astros’ FanFest today, Kaplan describes a couple of scenes wherein the organization’s PR staff attempted to mollify any discussion of the scandal by pairing stars of the team under fire – Bregman and Altuve, namely – with youngsters like Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Abraham Toro, who were not yet with the club in 2017.