HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) - Joe Espada waited a long time to get an opportunity to manage a Major League team, and after Dusty Baker retired last month, he prayed it would finally be his time to run his own team.
“I really hoped that I was going to get a chance to stay home and manage this team,” Espada said after being introduced as the 20th manager in Astros history on Monday. “I love this city. I love this team. I love this community, and I know I can protect and continue success and continue winning in this city.”
Espada called it “a dream come true” when Astros general manager Dana Brown called him on Sunday to let him know the job he coveted was his.
“I’ve had a chance to talk to Joe Espada for almost the whole year,” Brown said. “We’ve had great conversations, we hit it off early, and I think without a question Joe is a good fit for this job.”
The 48-year old was the logical replacement for Baker after serving as the team’s bench coach for the last six seasons. A.J. Hinch hired him to replace Alex Cora after the 2017 season, and he kept the job after Baker was hired in 2020.
“The last four years working for Dusty, watching him connect and work, and to say that I was the bench coach of a future Hall of Fame manage, it's incredible, it was an honor.”
Espada said he learned a lot by sitting next to Baker the last four seasons.
“Just watching him, how he prepares, how he communicated, how much he cared about winning, and how hard he pushed players, and in a good way. He really cared about the importance of communication and collaboration, and he allows us coaches to do our job to get the guys ready to play. I really appreciated that, and I think that's really going to help me for my next step.”
Through the years, Espada had been in the mix for a handful of managerial openings across baseball, including the White Sox and Marlins last winter. Why was this cycle different for him? He thinks it was fate.
“I think that sometimes we think that we can choose our destination, but I think God has destination chosen for us,” Espada said. “I think God wanted me to stay here, and I'm happy that I'm here, and I just can't wait to work with Dana and put the best players on the field and collaborate with him, with our whole entire front office, just to make sure that we put ourself in a good position to win baseball games.”