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A.J. Hinch hired: Astros choose perfect manager for their process

You may not agree with the decision, but Hinch fits what the Astros want to do

Bob Levey

In the end, the Astros made the only logical choice to be their next manager.

A team that has a decisions sciences department should expect nothing less.

Argue against A.J. Hinch if you want, but know what you're arguing against. The Astros were never going to drastically change the direction of their team. They were not going to bring in Ron Washington, Ron Gardenhire or Bobby Cox and give him full control over the major league team.

Getting a salty, experienced manager would have little bearing on how the Astros make decisions, because they weren't going to make decisions in a traditional way.

If you wanted a veteran here, you really want a change at the top. You were not going to get that.

So, moving on from that, what's left?

Well, the track record for first-time managers is not great. They typically lose before they win.

Houston couldn't afford that. It's why experience was a prerequisite on this search. They needed someone who knew how to handle a major league clubhouse, to juggle personalities and to maximize contributions from all 25 guys.

Hence, Hinch and his psychology degree got the job.

They wanted someone with experience, not because that person would know how to win, but because the manager would know how to deal with failure.

If you're worried about Hinch's previous record, look up Joe Torre, pre-Yankees. Look up Whitey Herzog. Look up Lloyd McClendon. Heck, look up Clint Hurdle or Buck Showalter.

Some managers can succeed without experiencing failure, but others need the skills forged in loss. They need to learn what went wrong to know how to do it right.

Hinch has that, thanks to that Diamondbacks team.

For this front office, managing meant more than just plugging players into a lineup and learning when to hit and run. It's about integrating data into scouting reports. It's about being open to new ideas and incorporating a variety of ideas into a streamlined decision-making process.

For the Astros to be successful, there can't be data silos. The clubhouse won't be Hinch's fiefdom. It will be an information superhighway, with the Nerd Cave and Kevin Goldstein's scouting group right there with the coaches.

Hinch should know about that, having served under Josh Byrnes. The former D'Backs and Padres GM is forward-thinking on analytics, coming out of a Boston front office with Theo Epstein leading the charge.

Hinch is also young with a background in player development. He will be able to connect not only with the major league stuff, but the minor league developmental side too.

That means we shouldn't have any more Battles of Appel's Bullpen.

In all that, A.J. Hinch is the perfect hire. He's smart. He's young. He's got the right background. He's a good communicator. He's a lot like Bo Porter, in fact, but is hopefully better at sharing control.

Hinch won't make the Astros 10 games better by himself, but he does seem to be the perfect candidate for this rebuild. He fits the system in place.

From here on out, then, the Plan will be put to the test. The pieces are in place. Wins need to follow.