Posted on February 3, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
As they try to move on from a major scandal, the Houston Astros are officially under new management. Monday evening, the team announced that James Click has been hired as the new GM. He joins the Astros after serving as the vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays for the last three years. The move comes a few days after the Astros announced that Dusty Baker will be the manager for the 2020 season.
Of course, the hiring of both Click and Baker was necessary after both former GM Jeff Luhnow and former manager A.J. Hinch were fired after MLB’s investigation into the Astros stealing signs, specifically during the 2017 World Series. Luhnow and Hinch are both banned from having jobs for major league teams during the 2020 season. However, after being suspended by MLB, both were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. The firings left Houston scrambling to find a new manager and GM with spring training fast approaching. It’s now up to Click and Baker to help the Astros move on from such shame and embarrassment.
“James has had an impressive career,” Crane said of Click in a statement. “He is a respected leader who has progressed in this game across all aspects of Baseball Operations and he has built great relationships with both front office and clubhouse personnel. I am thrilled to introduce him as our new general manager — he is a great addition to the Astros.”
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Click had been with the Rays in the team’s front office since 2006 after working with the club as an intern. He steadily worked his way up the ranks until becoming one of the team’s top-ranked executives under GM Erik Neander. Click is also a graduate of Yale and worked for the website Baseball Prospectus prior to joining the Rays. His approach to baseball is based heavily on analytics, which is similar to the approach the Astros have had for many years.
“I am excited to join the Astros family,” Click said of his new job. “The Astros are a progressive and innovative organization with a deeply talented group in the front office. I am grateful to Jim Crane and the Astros for giving me this opportunity to help lead this team to more championships.”
In the short term, Click has a limited amount of time before the start of spring training. The good news is that the bulk of Houston’s roster is in place. However, there will still be roster spots up for grabs, so the new GM will have to quickly become acclimated to Houston’s player pool. Click will also be working with a manager in Baker who is not a big believer in analytics. The Astros have somehow managed to hire a manager and GM who have somewhat opposing views of the game.
In the larger sense, Click is taking over an organization that has an image problem and needs to put the sign-stealing scandal behind them. The Astros have a roster full of players who were involved but have escaped punishment. It also can’t be forgotten that the Astros will be expected to contend for a championship in 2020 after losing in Game 7 of the World Series last year. All things considered, Click is taking on a big job. From a baseball perspective, he’s a great fit and more than qualified to be a GM. But there’s no denying that there’s a little more than baseball involved in becoming the GM of the Astros right now.