The Houston Astros announced on Monday they have signed Tampa Bay Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations, James Click, as their new general manager to replace Jeff Luhnow who was fired in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal.
The announcement comes quickly on the heels of the signing of Dusty Baker who replaced A.J. Hinch as the new team skipper. Baker had a lively press conference last week and has generally been regarded as the right choice to steer the ship for at least a couple season, and help them navigate through what will undoubtedly be a difficult season.
While Baker is a veteran, known for his player management and old-school style, Click, 42, is relatively young, but comes with a strong pedigree in all aspects of the game from scouting and contract negotiations to the kind of advanced analytics favored by the Astros, widely considered the most progressive team in baseball under Luhnow.
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Before the last three seasons as VP in Tampa Bay, Click has been with the team since 2006. Prior to that, he was a writer for the highly respected Baseball Prospectus. A native of Durham, North Carolina with a degree from Yale, he seems to have the kind of cerebral approach already at work with the current Astros staff.
In a statement, Click said, “The Astros are a progressive and innovative organization with a deeply talented group in the front office."
The biggest difference for Click here in Houston will undoubtedly be money. While he is taking over at a rather difficult time for the ball club, both in terms of the cheating scandal and the lack of flexibility in the payroll department, the budget here will likely be three times what he had to work with in Tampa.
With both a new GM and a new field manager in place with still a couple weeks to go before spring training, the Astros have managed a very difficult situation quite adroitly. Next up, how will the players handle it? We'll find out soon enough.