Nobody can accuse Dusty Baker of not being able to grab your attention or work a room.
That’s exactly what the 70-year-old veteran major league baseball manager did when he was formally introduced as the Astros new manager last Thursday.
Baker wowed the room with his quick whit and charm during his introductory press conference at Minute Made Park.
For the moment major questions like can the old school manager really embrace the analytics approach to the game the Astros brass favors? How will the oldest manager in baseball be able to relate to the players in his clubhouse?
“How many men 70 years old have a 20-year-old son?” Baker said. “And I just had my first grandchild 15 days ago. I enjoy and embrace being modern, but also being old school at the same time. And I don’t see why you can’t combine both of them.”
Baker, who brings 22 years of decorated years of experience as a manager, certainly knows how to say the right things. But now the real work starts.
Baker takes over a franchise that is in desperate need of his calming presence and impeccable reputation after being rocked by a sign-stealing scandal that saw manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow be fired and the reputation of the organization sink to an all-time low.
Baker’s charge is to restore respectability while also keeping the Astros in contention for world championships. The Astros are coming off a 107-win season in which they fell short to the Nationals in the World Series.
They are expected to be dominant in the American League West again this season.
“He’s the best person to lead this team to a championship,” said Astros owner Jim Crane. “His goal is our goal.”
Baker, who has been out of baseball since 2017 after leading the Nationals to back-to-back postseasons in 2016 and 2017, certainly seems up to the challenge in what he openly says is his last job as a manager.
“This is my last hurrah,” said Baker, who has made nine postseasons in his 22-year career but has never made it to the World Series. “I’m excited to be here and excited to win, because this is my last chance to accomplish the goal [of winning a World Series]. I was happy, but I wasn’t satisfied where I was and what I was doing — because something’s missing.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @TerranceHarris.