HOUSTON -- The next manager hired by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow figures to be the one who will be at the helm if and when the club gets back into contention in the American League West, which some team officials believe could happen by 2016.
Needless to say, Luhnow's next hiring figures to be a key one for the future of the organization. After dismissing manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley on Monday, Luhnow said the search for a new manager will begin immediately.
The Astros, as they did after dismissing Brad Mills in August 2012, will have to get permission to interview anyone who's currently employed by another club. Porter was the third-base coach for the Nationals and was hired before the end of the regular season, even though the Nats made the playoffs. He didn't take over the Astros until Washington was eliminated.
"Once we identify our short-list of candidates, if they're on competitive playoff-caliber teams, it's going to be difficult to request permission," Luhnow said. "We want to move quickly, but at the end of the day, we want to get it right."
Among those who will be on Luhnow's searching committee are executive advisor Nolan Ryan and special assistant to the general manager Craig Biggio. Luhnow says he is again willing to hire a candidate with no previous managing experience and is willing to give another look at some of the candidates who interviewed for the position two years ago.
Here's a look of five potential candidates:
• Tim Bogar, bench coach, Rangers: Bogar, a former player and Minor League manager with the Astros, interviewed for the Astros' managerial job prior to the 2010 and 2013 seasons. He agreed to become bench coach in 2013 season, but had a change of heart when his contract wouldn't allow him to interview for managerial positions. Bogar, 47, has been named manager of the year in the Minor Leagues with three different teams.
• Dave Martinez, bench coach, Rays: Martinez, 49, was a strong candidate for the job before it went to Porter and had interviewed with the Astros two years ago. He's been the right-hand man of Joe Maddon in the rough-and-tumble AL East and has playoff experience, as well as an understanding of the Astros' focus on analytics. Like Luhnow, he's bilingual, which is always a bonus.
• Dave Clark, third-base coach, Tigers: Clark, 51, is a strong leader who has tons of Minor League managerial experience and worked in the Astros organization for years, including a stint at interim manager at the end of the 2009 season. He spent six seasons as a manager (2003-08) in the Astros system and spent five seasons on the Astros' Major League staff, including four as third-base coach prior to Porter's arrival. He interviewed for the job prior to the 2010 season.
• Joe McEwing, third-base coach, White Sox: A former super-utility player who finished his Major League career with the Astros, McEwing, 41, started his coaching career in 2008 and has held various roles, including manager of the Double-A club for the White Sox in 2009 and their Triple-A affiliate in 2011. He's been considered an up-and-coming Major League managerial prospect.
• Biggio, assistant to the general manager, Astros: Biggio has stayed involved with the Astros since his retirement following the 2007 season and last year stepped down as head baseball coach at St. Thomas High School in Houston after his sons graduated. He's a trusted advisor to Luhnow and last week was spotted frequently at Minute Maid Park talking with the GM. The question is -- does the 48-year-old want to manage? If he does, it would be a popular hire among Astros fans.