The next Houston Astros manager is obvious: the ex-Ranger is now with the Diamondbacks

Dusty Baker announcing that he is retiring as manager of the Houston Astros means the man who finished second to him for the job should be the logical choice as his successor.

Former Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister made it zero secret he wanted that job after the Astros fired A.J. Hinch for his role in “HDTV Garbage Can Gate” in 2019. Banister was a finalist, and the Astros went with Baker.

Banister said later that if he was going to finish second to anyone, the man he would have wanted to finish second to was Dusty Baker; only a few days after his team lost in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Rangers, Baker decided the age of 74 is a good time to be done.

Now that the job is open, Astros owner Jeff Crane could not find a better fit for that position than a man who grew up in the area, is an alum of the University of Houston, and was raised on the Astros.

Enos Cabell, Jose Cruz, Phil Garner,” said Banister of some of the team’s former players from way back. Banister remembers where he was when Billy Hatcher hit “that home run” in the 14th inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Mets.

Banister is now the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and will see his old team in the World Series, which starts on Friday night with Game 1 in Arlington.

On Thursday, Banister met with the media along with every other player and coach.

Does he still want to be a manager?

“That’s a great question. I still have that desire, yes,” he said. “I don’t think that will ever leave. I’m in a great place. ... If that’s an opportunity somewhere down the road then I’ll have to answer those questions.”

That opportunity, and those questions, if they come from the Astros, would come in about the next 10 to 12 days, depending on the length of this series.

Between the time he was fired by the Rangers on Sept. 21, 2018 and today, he’s been “through it.”

After he was fired by then GM Jon Daniels, Banister found he had a hard time getting back into Major League Baseball. It can happen.

Although Banister has been in big league baseball for decades as a player, coach or manager, and was named the American League Manager of the Year in 2015, once you’re off the merry-go-round, sometimes it can be hard to find a spot back on.

After he narrowly missed being hired as the Astros manager in 2019, 2020 came and you might just remember what happened then. Nothing.

In 2021, he accepted what was essentially a volunteer job as an assistant at the University of Northern Colorado, where his son, Jacob, played. He enjoyed the job, and being around his son, but it didn’t quite scratch the itch of Major League Baseball.

Banister was originally hired to replace the most popular manager in Rangers’ history, Ron Washington, who resigned late in the 2014 season.

In Banister’s four seasons with the team, they finished with a .509 winning percentage and won the American League West in 2015 and 2016; the ‘16 tied a club-record with 95 wins.

He was with the team, and was asked to share his thoughts about, the plans for Globe Life Park when the project was in the early stages.

“I felt like what we were able to do in my time frame was pretty good,” he said.

The playoffs were a bust; they were eliminated by the Blue Jays in consecutive postseasons, including the memorable Game 5 meltdown at Toronto.

The team didn’t have a winning record in ‘17 or ‘18, and Banister later recognized the mistakes he made in managing a team that was in a different place when he took over. He was pushing too hard for a team that simply wasn’t “there.”

“To watch where they’re at right now, and for us to be the team that’s playing against them, I take a lot of pride being a part of both organizations,” he said. “They will still be a part of the fabric of who I am.

“Mixed emotions? They only mixed emotions I have is we weren’t able to get it done when I was here. So it was a missed opportunity at that time.”

He’s 59, and he considers himself a baseball lifer.

He wants another shot, and Houston would have a hard time finding anyone better suited to be manager of its Astros more than Jeff Banister.