This is the third day where we go over possible candidates for Houston's managerial position. Instead of relying on sources from the media or the Cardinals organization for candidates this time, let's look at one rumored candidate and a host of former players who may end up on this team's wish list.
All these guys played for the Astros and are beloved to different degrees. This new front office doesn't have the same ties to the organization's past as maybe a Drayton McLane had. Still, these guys would bring some credibility for the fan base.
Brad Aumus, former catcher, current Padres executive
As Astros County broke yesterday and as Chris discussed earlier today, the Astros have apparently interviewed Brad Ausmus, maybe twice, to be their next manager. This comes on the heels of his visit last Friday to throw out the first pitch, and then Mills suddenly getting fired the next day. Hmmm...
Ausmus brings a lot of things that this front office might like in a manager. He's pretty smart, Ivy League educated and has been working for a good front office. He also is a huge fan favorite who would easily have a grace period of a couple of years just due to residual good feelings about his tenure as a player. Think Phil Garner.
However, he lacks significant experience in player development, which is the closest thing we've gotten to a job description Jeff Luhnow has given out. He also doesn't have big league experience managing a club, nor does he have a ton of minor league experience. I'd argue that his time as a catcher makes up for that and adding an experienced bench coach can also make things better there.
I hope Bradley does get the job. If we're shoehorning everything that this front office does into either Moneyball terms or Rays comparisons, plucking a relative untested manager like Ausmus up is very much like the Rays hiring Joe Maddon. Couldn't you see Ausmus being just successful and just as forward-thinking?
Craig Biggio, current high school baseball coach
As a special assistant with the team right now, Biggio is already a known quantity to this front office. Out of the handful of games I've been to this season, I saw him once in the clubhouse chatting with the players. Don't know if that was a regular thing, because I blacked out and am even hazy on the details of when I did see him.
Biggio brings the same kinds of problems that Ausmus does, since he's had about the same big league coaching experience and hasn't even been as connected to the front office as Ausmus has with the Padres. Bidge did have that stint as the coach at his sons' school in Houston, but does that translate to "player development?"
That's also one of the questions I have about his status as a possible manager. His son Cavan will be a senior this season. Will Biggio be willing to sacrifice seeing his son play in his senior season to take this spot? Managerial opportunities don't come around often, so he'd have to at least look into it if they were offering, but I wonder how he'd react to getting a job as just a coach on someone else's staff.
Not a huge deal, but I wonder how much he'd want the opportunity. I'd love to see him get it and then bring back Bagwell as hitting coach. That would be just great, much like Chris said this morning.
Tim Bogar, Red Sox coach
One of my favorite, possibly underrated players from those late-90's teams. Bogar got to sit and watch a season, too, after he suffered an injury. Maybe I'm mixing him and Adam Everett up, but if he did, he got to sit on the bench beside Larry Dierker and learn a few things. That moves him up in my book a bit.
He's also been around a winning club in Boston, probably has been exposed to some statistical analysis has a minor league coaching history that suggests he knows something about player development. He's also interviewed in Houston before, so it stands to reason that he knows how this process works and may be a little more prepared to hit the ground running.
Lots to like here, but I'm not sure he gets an edge over Ausmus. I'd rank him second ahead of Bidge, though.
Morgan Ensberg, baseball commentator
That's right. I went there.
Sure, he's young and has little experience either managing or in player development. Sure, he wouldn't bring nearly the same buzz as Biggio or Ausmus, but he's got a savvy about him, both in talking for the cameras and microphones and in dealing with people.
More to the point, his blog showed that he's willing to think critically about baseball and how it's played. He may not be a huge sabermetrics guy right now, but show him how it works (as this front office might do) and I believe he'd take what he can use and adopt it.
Talk about the difference in experience, though. Even Ausmus and Biggio, who have little to no actual pro coaching experience, have more than Ensberg. That may not be a bad thing, but it'd be a tough sell at first. At the same time, Houston might strike gold bringing Ensberg out of the booth like they did with Larry Dierker. Wait a minute...should they maybe talk to J.D. about being pitching coach, too?