For Pete’s sake — and Bo’s — it’s high time for stability


The patient has been in critical condition long enough. It’s high time to add “stable” to the diagnosis and “improving” to the prognosis.

Now that the trade deadline has passed, Bo Porter should set his lineup and his rotation. And be done with it.

Make up your mind on Lucas Harrell. What the heck are your plans for Dallas Keuchel? You know what you have in Erik Bedard, so make the best of it.

A quality team thrives on consistency, cohesiveness and, yes, stability, in the day-to-day routine. Lack of the same makes a bad team even worse. It’s one reason Jeff Luhnow likely gave Brad Mills every opportunity as manager in hopes he would provide some continuity in a tough rebuilding situation.

It’s the very reason that Tony DeFrancesco succeeded down the stretch in 2012. And it’s darn good reason for Porter to take note and provide stability for the next eight weeks.

  1. Define the rotation. Yes, injuries and number of innings could come into play, but let the guys know who’s starting and who’s going to be expected to pitch in relief.
  2. Adopt the tandem starter rule with Erik Bedard. It worked in the minors early on. We all know Bedard isn’t going much beyond 90-100 pitches, so match him with either Keuchel or Harrell. That way, the two latter pitchers have some certainty.
  3. Stop the juggling lineups. After 96 lineups in 110 games, you won’t find the right combination because there isn’t a right combination with this group. Just not enough pieces. Put the best guys out there and let ’em play.
  4. Stop the merry-go-round from OKC. Okay, this one is probably more for Luhnow than Porter, but by now, everyone knows what each of these players is going to bring to the table.  How many times does Jimmy Paredes have to ride that Southwest flight? Barring injury let ’em play, both in OKC and in Houston.
  5. The next guys up from OKC should be: Asher Wojciechowski, Jake Buchanan and George Springer. Not Paredes, Hector Ambriz or Marwin Gonzalez.

Unfortunately, Porter acts as though he’s managing for his job. Hopefully, that isn’t the case as it would signal desperation on the part of the Astros. Unless there’s something immoral, unethical or downright illegal, the Astros should give Porter his space through next season.

This isn’t a “vote of confidence” for Porter, but Luhnow’s less-than-year-old choice should have 2-3 years to make something happen.

The next step should be stability.

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28 comments on “For Pete’s sake — and Bo’s — it’s high time for stability

  1. In Porter I see a guy that manages strictly by statistics. Put all the players, numbers, ect. in the computer and print out a lineup.
    He doesn’t appear to take into consideration the individual player’s weakness and strengths.
    As for the way he uses the pen, he keeps making the same moves expecting a different outcome.

    Chip, as you pointed out stability was a good part of DeFrancesco’s success. This very young team needs a manager with some managerial experience. Even if the experience is only at the minor league level.

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  2. I agree, especially about the line-up. I want Porter to be good because Houston needs a good manager, but he appears no better than Brad What’s-his-name who is back with Francona. it also seems to me like both Luhnow and Porter are are just giving guys some time in the majors instead of evaluation. I can’t see how there is more to evaluate with Paredes, Wallace, or even Bedard. I bet the first person they bring up in September will be Marwin at shortstop again.

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  3. Okay, I agree, set two line ups, one against lefties, one against righties, for the remainder of the season. That is until we see Springer. There is no other position player I expect, or want to see this season.

    Harrell is a tough call. The guy is durable and has shown an ability to get guys out. See 2012. I think he needs a vacation and a sports shrink as much as anything. Hold on to him for now, but take him out of the equation for the balance of the season. Let him be the mop up guy. I don’t see pairing him up with Bedard. Look at what happened today. Again.

    Keuchel should remain a starter for the balance of the season if only because most all of the guys that might be brought up, including Wojoski, Buchanan and Martinez are all approaching innings limits for the year. Even Cosart might have to get shut down at some point. So keep Peacock and Oberholtzer in there for now, along with Peacock, Cosart and Bedard. And if guys like Cosart reach theirs innings limits, then give the new guys a start or two.

    Sure, Porter is trying too hard, but on the flip side, if he was not trying to squeeze something out of every game, he’s be taking heat for playing out the string. He’s literally in a no win situation.

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    • Hold on, I’ve got Peacock taking two slots in the rotation. Let’s take one of those Peacock’s out and keep Keuchel to the rotation for the time being.

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  4. I agree with the article. However, there is one caveat. If it takes 200 pitches to finish a couple games in a row, then you have to bring up more arms. But, the position players do not have to come up every week from OKC. Not sure if 2013 was just a complete year of ST, or if we have watched Poland getting ready for WW3.

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  5. I don’t think September and expanded rosters can get here soon enough. Look at the 16 games since the break:
    – loss by 3
    – loss by 2
    – loss by 7
    – loss by 1
    – win by 1 (come from behind in the ninth)
    – loss by 1
    – loss by 4
    – loss by 6
    – win by 2
    – loss by 1
    – loss by 1
    – win by 11
    – loss by 3
    – loss by 1 (extra innings)
    – loss by 2
    – loss by 1

    Having some of those OKC starters for an inning out of the pen might have saved us four or five losses over that stretch. The lack of bats issue would probably not be any different.

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  6. I had read this on the way into work, but had not had a chance to comment until now. daveb hit on one thing that I was going to say off the bat, which was set up righty and lefty lineups and stick with them. I do not completely fault Porter for trying so many lineups – but how do you know if someone can fill a particular slot in the lineup if you only give them a few game trial before shuffling the cards again.
    But come on Bo – no more stupid choices like Pena leading off.
    Not a big fan of the tandem pitching duos – either somebody is a starter or they are not (probably just something old school with me).
    Want to see call-ups that matter, but I know they are calling up people whose clocks have already started and do not have a future here (Paredes).
    daveb has a good point on not over-pitching the young arms from the minors. Need to monitor it on the youngsters – though a start or two or a relief appearance or two might not hurt – just to get their feet wet.
    Need something (Springer call up?) to make me care again. Getting pretty cynical at this point.

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    • Danp: On the tandem starters. I thought that was a great experiment for the minors coming out of ST. Smart move by Luhnow. Thought we needed starters. However, now that we have seen most of 2013 – He would probably would take a different approach. He would have used 9 pitchers each game in the minors to see if we had any relief help anywhere.

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  7. Couldn’t agree any more with yours and other assessments. We need a little consistency at this point until the September call-ups and I agree, it should not be the same ol guys who we’ve seen 3 or 4 times already.
    DanP- being a self proclaimed cynic myself I know how you feel.
    One question to ask…when is the last time (if ever) a team got the #1 draft choice 3 years in a row?
    Hopefully, the light that we hope for at the end of the tunnel is not a freight train coming our way. It would be awfully nice to have some positive things happening occassionally.
    Nothing against Bo but I believed that Tony D’ should have gotten the manager job. From what I can see he’ll make a good if not great one.

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  8. Zanuda – The only modern team comparable to the Astros would be the expansion NY Mets, but since the mlb draft did not start until 1965 – they did not get a chance for the consecutive #1s. The Astros – if they hold their negative lead would be the first team with 3 straight #1s. I am just so proud….

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  9. I am off topic, but was not sure if Becky had seen the stats for OKC and CC catchers this year. Garcia, Perez, and Stassi are all three hitting .266-.304 range. But their passed balls (Garcia – 1 in 60 games) and their stealing is from 33 to 51%. One would think that a defensive catcher or three may be less than a year away. (Have no idea about calling games, etc but looking at stats they would be an improvement)

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  10. Astro45……..I’ve been following Max Stassi for the last few months. He has been
    on fire as of late, but then again, so was Castro when they brought him up. As
    far as Bo Porter goes, and his ever changing line-ups…….you gotta have some
    guys who can actually HIT the ball. I’ve lost interest, and it looks like the players have too. Becky

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    • Stassi has hit a batch of homers over the last month. But he’s had a bit of help. This time of year in Corpus, the wind blows in off the gulf at 15 to 20 knots, really helping balls pulled to the 325′ fence in left there. That said, Stassi looks like a catcher behind the plate. I saw him block a lot of crappy Ross Seaton pitches.

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  11. Devin, if I’ve got starters in OKC like Wojoski and Buchanan, and they are not beyond 150 to 160 innings, then I give them a start or two and sit Bedard. But chances are that Wojoski and Buchanan and even Martinez in AA will be at pitch limits. I would not bring anyone up for the sake of expanding a roster.

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  12. I think they might move Bedard back to the bullpen, with the
    good pitching we’ve gotten lately from these young guys. Actually
    I don’t think it would bother Bedard to do that, his arm is pretty fragile.
    How ’bout that win tonight! WOW! Becky

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  13. Good game last night – Oberholzer had his second strong start and looks like someone who knows how to pitch. Hitting was pretty pathetic especially with men on base but the bullpen did their jobs for once. Fields struck out all 4 he faced though I wish he could learn to make his fastball move – arrow-like in its straightness. Enjoyed what they did last night.

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  14. Now that he’s up here and playing everyday, Villar needs to start taking lessons on how to get a throw off to 1st. base. I’ve noticed that he throw’s low A LOT, and pulls the 1st. baseman off the bag…i.e. last night. He has a strong arm, but he needs to get it going in the right direction. Still not impressed with him, maybe he needs to “grow” on me. I’m taking bets on who’s gonna be the 2014 opening day starter…..
    my bet is Cosart. I’d like to see Max Stassi in September, since I’ve not seen him in real time, I want to see how he works behind the plate. Who knows, he might be the back up by the end of June 2014! Becky

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  15. If up to me, after a lead off walk, two doubles and then a single by Ortiz, Lyles is out of the game. Porter did him no favors by leaving him beyond that point. Will be interesting to hear his rationale.

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  16. After a very good game – a very bad game where they wasted 10 runs scored (what is that – a week’s worth of runs?). Hey Becky, Villar went out hurt (after going 2 for 2) and was replaced by Elmore (who went 2 for 2 with a dinger).

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  17. Hey Dan……yeah that was kinda odd, when Porter took Villar out. I was thinking
    that he might have taken him out because of the error……who REALLY knows?
    Villar is trying to make a good name for himself, but I think he is trying WAAAY
    to hard. I also think using a starter (Keuchel) to mop up an inning is not fair…..
    but as bad as this bullpen has been, Bo may have thought that was his best option.
    Lyles may have just pitched himself off this team. It wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if Luhnow didn’t try to move him this winter. Lyles has been given EVERY CHANCE to make it, but if he can’t go past the 5th. inning, he’s not gonna help
    this team. On a MUCH brighter subject, how ’bout Barnes getting the “Heart and hustle” award!! I just love that kid, and I’ve been one of his biggest fans this year!
    Robbie Grossman is ‘da man…….that kid is proving he belongs!! Becky

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    • Barnes and Grossman both play like they want to be there.

      I’m hopeful Lyles just needs some more experience. I was all for letting him start the year at OKC. I don’t think we should give up on someone that young.

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  18. If I was Luhnow, i’d sign Valverde to a minors deal, let him give it a go over the last 40 games and see what he can do. Then maybe bring him to spring training, since the team will need to add a closer anyway — and there’s really no one on the horizon to fill that need. If he gets you 6-7 saves the rest of this season and maybe 12-15 by the trading deadline, you’ve put a veteran into that role, given him a chance to work it out in a pressureless situation and possibly found yourself another trading chip in July 2014. If I’m Boras, i’m on the phone right now with Luhnow making that pitch. And if I’m Luhnow, I’m listening. OK, now kill me everyone. 🙂

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  19. … And while i’m at it, why is it that Jordan Lyles comes back from Okla. City acting like an ace and now is crap again? Seems like everyone who goes to AAA and plays for Tony and his coaches, comes back revitalized, with a new and better idea, and then slowly go in the toilet after reaching Houston. And it’s not just because it’s the big leagues. It’s about approach if you ask me. Pitching coach is not a position i’d take lightly. I’d go get the best available for all these young guys on the come. Peacock looks like a keeper; Lyles at times has looked like a keeper; Keuchel reminds me of Bob Knepper from days past; Obie has an idea, but he’ll be the next to go backward, no doubt; Cosart, omg, he is just plain nasty and I think too headstrong (just a hunch) to let the Astros big-league coaching mess him up. And no, he’s not going to be my closer. Does he remind anyone (just a little bit) of Nolan Ryan? He does me. Be patient Astros fans …. there are some big days ahead with Rodon, Appel, McCullers, Martinez, Foltynewicz and Cicnero. Not to mention Cosart, Obie, Keuchel and Harrell. And let’s not forget two outstanding arms that had Tommy John this year …. Ely and White.

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