On Tuesday, we learned quite a bit from Evan Drellich's latest report on the Astros nascent managerial search. Though it's been 24 days since Houston fired Bo Porter, the Astros do not appear to be in a rush to hire his replacement.
Interim manager Tom Lawless has gone 10-10 since taking over for the deposed Bo Porter. He's likely still a candidate but remains a long shot for the permanent job. Instead, Drellich brings up four names, none of them new, but with each of them sounding like potential finalists for the job.
In this report, Drellich mentions the Astros have done background work on A's bench coach Chip Hale and may have requested an interview with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. In addition to those two, Drellich indicates that former manager and current Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu and former manager Manny Acta are also expected to be candidates for the job.
With a little firmer idea on who the names are, does it seem weird that the Astros haven't progressed to interviews yet? Let's take a look at the timing of Jeff Luhnow's last managerial search to gauge the pace they're on now.
In 2012, Bo Porter was hired on Sept. 27, 47 days after Brad Mills was fired late in the evening on Aug. 11. Judging by that timetable, Houston has until Oct. 17 before they take longer than the last search.
The Astros interviewed Dave Martinez on Sept. 11, 2012, Bo Porter on Sept. 14 and Larry Bowa on Sept. 15. The team also interviewed then-interim manager Tony DiFrancesco and Tim Bogar the week following the first three. At the time, Porter was reportedly the first candidate interviewed, but the timeline shows Martinez came in on his off-day, a Monday.
What does that mean? The names we've been hearing are likely from the Astros going through the vetting process. They're being discussed within the Astros organization, but no finalists have been named. As we previously discussed, most of the sources for the names thrown out so far haven't come from the Astros.
Drellich's report is different. He's connected to the front office and likely knows which names are legimitate. The fact that he's circled back on Chip Hale, Torey Lovullo and the two previous managers, Don Wakamatsu and Manny Acta, indicate they're more than just in the conversation.
That all four fit the criteria laid out by Jeff Luhnow for his ideal candidate also helps verify their candidacy.
But, it may not exclude someone like Dave Martinez, who interviewed last time around and could be an attractive candidate this time, too. Maybe the lack of mentions of his name is a product of the vetting process itself. Houston already knows what he brings, having interviewed him before. If they're serious about adding him to the finalist list, they won't bring him up until those begin.
What may slow the Astros process down some is the playoffs. Going off last time's timetable, interviews could begin as early as next week. Yet, it will be more difficult for the Astros to line up interviews with Hale and Wakamatsu if the A's and Royals, respectively, make the playoffs.
Acta isn't currently coaching in baseball this year while Martinez and Lovullo both coach for teams who are out of the playoff picture.
Both Oakland and Kansas City sit in the two Wild Card spots, meaning that as of right now, the two will play on Sept. 30 in the AL Wild Card game. The divisional series will then begin on Oct. 2 and run through Oct. 8 at the latest. The ALCS is then scheduled to run from Oct. 10-18 with the World Series from Oct. 21-29.
If the A's or the Royals make a run, it'd present plenty of problems. Would the Astros wait until Oct. 30 to interview either candidate? What if their other choices go elsewhere in the meantime? Can they afford to wait?
That makes next week a fascinating time in the managerial search. We should know more about the Astros' plans starting then.