Managers who are not on the hot seat usually avoid lame duck status. Often, before they enter the final year of their contract, their team extends them. If that doesn’t happen, speculation starts about whether their job is secure. It’s become industry standard, more or less.
Which makes Dusty Baker’s new deal with the Astros a bit different: it’s a one-year deal. There’s a team option for 2021 and a buyout if the team doesn’t exercise it, but in all ways that matter, it makes Baker a lame duck before he has even been fitted for his Astros jersey.
My first thought when I saw this was “man, they’re making Dusty a caretaker manager and they’re gonna bring back A.J. Hinch next year when his suspension is up.” That’d be wild, wouldn’t it? I mean, historically it wouldn’t be totally insane given how often Billy Martin was fired and brought back — once hired to be a manager-in-waiting not long after he was fired, which had to make his replacement feel great — but it’d certainly be an odd thing by modern standards. And people would probably howl.
A more reasonable take, after I had some time to think and talk to people on Twitter about it, was that…