Dusty Baker was not supposed to be here. At 72 years old, he was not supposed to be guiding the Houston Astros into the postseason. Instead, he was supposed to be enjoying retirement, watching the playoffs from the couch just like the rest of us.
But that is not the case. Baker has just finished his fifth consecutive full MLB season with 90+ wins, an impressive accomplishment for any manager. The Astros are up 2-0 in the ALDS, in large part because of his steady guidance.
Houston Astros need to bring Dusty Baker back
Baker became the Astros manager under unique circumstances. The team lost their general manager and manager at the time due to fallout from AstroGate, with the respected veteran manager tabbed as someone who could guide the roster through a difficult time.
He has done that and more. Baker took an injury decimated Astros’ roster to within a game of the World Series last year, battling back from a 3-0 deficit before being eliminated in Game Seven. The Astros are on a roll again this year, handily winning the division while dealing with more issues on the pitching staff.
But he is not guaranteed to come back in 2022. Baker is theoretically a free agent at the end of the year, and could sign on to manage any ballclub. Or, he could fade into retirement, his legacy as one of the greatest managers in the game secure.
The ball is seemingly in Baker’s court. While ownership did not commit to wanting to bring him back, one has to imagine that if he says he is on board for the 2022 campaign, the Astros will find a way to make that happen. Considering what he has guided this roster through, he may be the most important piece of the puzzle.
Dusty Baker is nominally a free agent after the season. The Houston Astros need to keep him on their bench for as long as he wants.