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Friday, December 1, 2023


KING SALOMON’S COURT: Astros should think outside the box

The Astros have spent the last week or so as the belles of the ball. Suitor after suitor has come by Union Square, but none seem good enough to get invited to dance.

The Astros manager search has created some buzz and a renewed interest in the team following its lackluster 74-88 campaign. When speculation over who the Astros’ next skipper will be is the team’s biggest offseason development, however, things don’t bode well for the club.

There are 10 candidates for the job so far. Some are castaway, retread managers like Manny Acta, Bob Melvin and Ned Yost. Others are up-and-coming coaches from other teams like Brad Mills and Tim Bogar, both of whom work for Boston.

Yet, the most interesting name on the list is Phil Garner. It was under Garner that the Astros achieved their first playoff series win and their first trip to the World Series, in 2004 and 2005 respectively. It’s easy to see from a nostalgic point of view why Garner should be back.

The problem is that even if Garner and owner Drayton McLane agree to let bygones be bygones, the 2010 edition of the Astros will not be anything like the 2005 team Garner took to the World Series. Sure, they could probably call Roger Clemens to come by when he’s not busy on the witness stand, but it really wouldn’t be the same.

Garner would be inheriting a team in the rebuilding stages, and while he certainly gets respect from his players, how much more effort could he squeeze out of a team that has so many holes on the roster?

If the Astros want to be competitive over the next few seasons they’ll need to find a manager who is patient, skilled at getting effort from players, and, perhaps most importantly, able to teach young players.

That’s why they should hire one of the up-and-coming coaches like Bogar, Mills or Padres coach Randy Ready. These coaches would have something to prove, and they’re more likely to take to a rebuilding project with enthusiasm than an established manager would be.

If they insist on hiring a retread manager, they shouldn’t have looked any further than Grady Little. Don’t let his implosion in Boston or his being forced out of L.A. fool you; Little knows how to get the most out of his players and better yet, has great credentials as far as coaching young players.

Whoever gets the nod as manager will face an uphill battle. Drayton McLane and Ed Wade still believe this team can be competitive. At the very least, fans can hope for someone who can make the Astros fun to watch again.

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