Astros' Jim Crane Eyeing Dusty Baker Contract Extension After World Series Loss

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 3, 2021

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02:  Manager Dusty Baker Jr. #12 of the Houston Astros looks on prior to Game Six of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park on November 02, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane said he'll meet with manager Dusty Baker in the coming days to discuss a potential one- or two-year contract extension.

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve also gave the 72-year-old coaching legend a vote of confidence after the club lost the World Series to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

"Yeah, absolutely," Altuve told reporters about whether he wanted Baker to return for 2022.

Baker has won more games—1,987 in the regular season and 40 in the playoffs—than any manager who's never captured a World Series title in that role. He does have a championship ring from his time as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.

While he's been criticized for his old-school managerial style that often leans more on feel than analytics, it's hard to blame him for the club's World Series loss.

The team's star-studded lineup, which led MLB in runs during the regular season, struggled to solve the Braves pitching staff, scoring just four combined runs in their four losses in the series. That included a 7-0 loss in the season-ending Game 6.

It's also hard to pin everything on old-school managerial tactics in a year where Brian Snitker, who's spent over 40 years in the Braves organization, led Atlanta to its first championship since 1995 by pushing most of the right buttons when it mattered most.

Baker, who joined the Astros in 2020 after A.J. Hinch was fired in light of the club's sign-stealing scandal, has posted a 124-98 record (.559 winning percentage) over the past two regular seasons. Houston reached the ALCS last year and the World Series this season.

"I've still got some unfinished business," Baker told reporters when asked if he's hoping to return. "I mean, I love these guys over here. I love the town of Houston. The fans are behind us."

Houston's front office has some work to do in the offseason to keep the club at the level of title contention with a group of impending free agents that includes shortstop Carlos Correa and starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, along with several depth players.

That said, there's still a strong foundation in place, led by Altuve, outfielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Alex Bregman and starter Lance McCullers Jr.

Barring an unexpected hiccup during negotiations, it sounds like Baker will return on a short-term deal to lead the AL contenders in 2022.