The Houston Astros will be entering the American League next season as fresh and new as an organization can be.
In the past year, they have changed ownership, general manager and will be picking a new manager in the coming months. In addition, with an average age of 26.1, they have the youngest roster in Major League Baseball.
GM Jeff Luhnow has been making all the right moves by putting together a solid front-office staff and adding quality players to an improving farm system. However, none of this will matter if the wrong guy is selected to lead the Astros from the dugout.
Here are the top five candidates to fill the manager position.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Jim Riggleman was one of the candidates the Astros are considering, which is a little surprising. Last season, while leading the Nationals to a respectable record of 38-37, Riggleman abruptly quit because of a contract dispute with the front office.
Criticism of him keeps coming from members of the Nationals, even though it was more than a year ago when he left. The most recent has come from Jayson Werth and manager Davey Johnson.
These are all questions that Riggleman will need to answer, and answer well, if he hopes to get the manager position.
Joey Cora has been on Ozzie Guillen's staff for eight years, seven with the White Sox and now in his first season with the Miami Marlins. He has never been the head guy, but he has had some experience because of Guillen's numerous ejections and suspensions.
Cora has been at the major league level either as a player or coach since 1987 and that type of experience would be invaluable to a young team like the Astros.
Not to mention he also earned a World Series ring while with the Chicago White Sox.
Joe Pettini was brought over from St. Louis by Jeff Luhnow in January to be the Astros bench coach.
In my opinion, he would be the best choice for the job. He was Tony La Russa's bench coach since 2002, has two World Series rings with the Cardinals.
Pettini already has a good working relationship with Luhnow and understands the direction they have envisioned for this organization. There also would also not be any learning curve when it comes to handling the players.
Chris Maloney is the first-base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals but also has a connection to the Houston Astros.
Maloney started his managerial career in the Cardinals' minor league system in 1991.He has been with the organization his entire career except for three years when he was the manager of the New Orleans Zephyrs, who were the Astros' Triple-A farm team at the time.
Like Pettini, Maloney has spent a lot of time in the minor league system and has a good understanding of how to develop players. This is a quality that the Astros need in their new manager.
This will probably be the popular choice among fans, and while it would be a great story, bringing back Brad Ausmus as manager of the Astros may not be the best first job for him.
This team is deep in a rebuilding process and probably won't have much success for the first couple of years. The Astros should focus on bringing in someone with a lot of coaching experience, either in the major- or minor-league levels.
Ausmus did a great job managing the pitching staff when he caught for the Astros and worked with great pitchers like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt. He would be a valuable asset, especially to Jason Castro.
However, this reclamation project is such a big undertaking that Ausmus may end up in over his head.