Porter’s planning for future, but how much rope does he have?

Clearly, Bo Porter is making plans to manage the Houston Astros in 2014. He’s having season-ending conversations with players even before the season ends. He’s begun to whittle down the likely players who he’d like to write into his lineup next April.

Truth be known, he’s probably also planning some season-ending conversations with some of his coaches, conversations that could end their career in Houston.

If only we could peek behind the veil and be a fly on the wall for the real conversation. The one that Jeff Luhnow is having with Reid Ryan. About Bo Porter.

It would be a huge admission of failure if Porter were let go after only one year. And, while the Astros aren’t likely to fire the 41-year-old former outfielder, you have to wonder if Luhnow, Ryan and perhaps owner Jim Crane have had that discussion over a beer and nachos.

We all know that Luhnow wrote off 2013 a long time ago, but he probably didn’t plan on 110 losses either. Porter will be the first Astros’ manager to finish last in his division during the first year of his tenure. Obviously, he is the manager-of-record over the worst season in history record-wise: 108 and counting. And while he may be the numbers guy Luhnow was looking for, the more important relational tools required of managers may be somewhat lacking.

That said, most of us don’t know how he is behind closed doors, though we’ve heard some things publicly played out. Players such as Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell have been a bit vocal. Others have mumbled semi-privately.

Most of the players are young and won’t speak out as quickly. But Luhnow has undoubtedly been taking the pulse of the team with conversations of his own. Would that we knew the opinions of some players of the future like Jarred Cosart, Jason Castro, Brett Oberholtzer and others. You can bet Luhnow knows.

If Luhnow is second-guessing his not-even-year-old choice, you also have to wonder if he’s not keeping a close eye as the season ends for teams like the Yankees, Angels and perhaps Twins. There could be a scuffle to shuffle managers in November.

My prediction is that Luhnow takes the easy road. As many potholes as Porter has hit during the season, he hasn’t had much to work with and the revolving door of players hasn’t helped.

Porter stays, but some coaches go. At least that’s my take.

But the cloud will hang over Porter until he’s able to stabilize the ship. If Houston gets out of the gate slow in April, the buzzards could start to circle quickly.

If Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Ron Gardenhire or others become available, would you make the move and go after a proven hand?


22 comments on “Porter’s planning for future, but how much rope does he have?

  1. Forget the big names. This is Tony DiFrancesco’s team. Fire Porter and promote Tony D. He deserves it — and the players love him.
    And, oh, btw: If anyone thinks Mo Rivera is going to pitch in Houston this weekend, I believe they’re crazy. Mo’s final curtain call came tonight when Pettitte and Jeter came out and got him. Mo’s done.


  2. I don’t know. I think if Luhnow was disappointed in Porter he might do something about it, but if Crane lost confidence in Porter, something really would be done.
    I really do like Eric’s idea about Tony D though. The guy gets the job done, and this year he got it done in OKC with guys that nobody else could have. I can’t see the Yanks letting Girardi go, but if they did, I’d sure want to talk with him if I were Luhnow. You have to explore all options.


  3. In another thread Porter’s enthusiasm, energy and passion were cited. I recall earlier in the season folks referred to his football mentality. Therein lies a problem. Baseball is much more cerebral than emotional. Emotion matters more when one plays a single game a week versus six or seven. Porter’s blatant double standards can’t help team morale. JD Martinez benched in mid game for a bad AB and Jonathan Villar benched for lousy baserunning and then Jose Altuve makes not one but two of the absolute STUPIDEST baserunning blunders and doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist. Porter himself didn’t know elementary rules about substituting pitchers but then again neither did the umpires!

    IMO there is more talent on this team than was on the 2012 team at the same place in the season yet under Tony D the Astros managed to play nearly .500 ball in September. The players clearly packed it in and wilted under the pressure of playing against teams who had a pulse and were in the playoff hunt. His job this year should have been player development and in that role I think he failed miserably much like Brad Mills did last season. Note that when players were sent down to OKC they came back better and oftentimes significantly so. The 2014 Astros are still going to be doing some AAAA work so why not have a manager who has a proven track record of developing players? With hindsight I think it was good not to bring Springer up not so that a roster spot can be saved but to keep him away from the lousy chemistry that is apparent on this team. No rah-rah attitude can substitute for in depth knowledge of the game and I’m not sure Porter has it.


  4. I made this same comment on the Chron website which is, I just not impressed with BOPO. In business and make no mistake, Baseball is a business, I just haven’t seen enough positives with Porter that offset the negative. We have at best a AAA or AAAA assemblage of talent. These guys need someone they resepct, whom they will listen to and act upon thosedirections. I just haven’t seen any indication that this is what is happening with Porter.
    He might make a fine manager for an established club but not for one going through the process that we are embarked upon. I thought Tony D should have gotten the opportunity this season to manage. He sure has paid his dues but management saw otherwise. I like you feel that if the team has another bad April then BOPO has to go. We’re all getting tired of being the laughing stock of MLB.


  5. I’ve never really read or heard a quote from any of the Astros as to how they feel about playing for Porter, except for a couple of negatives about defensive switches. But not hearing anything positive might be telling.

    If Porter gets out of the gate badly next year, he’ll be gone by the break. Again, what has Porter shown to be effective at?

    It would be much tidier to make a managerial change in the next few weeks rather than during the 2014 season, but dumping Porter now would expose another personnel mistake by Luhnow. A big one. And would any of the big names want to come here and take on what looks more and more like a lengthy project? I’d take Girardi in a flash. The Yankee organization might be going through their own rebuilding process over the next few years. But we could offer the guy 20 million over 5 years and he’d probably take less to go to Chicago.

    As for Tony DiFrancesco, he went 16 and 25 in his short stint with the Stros. Anyone would have been a breath of fresh air following Mills. And any number of guys could have gone 16 and 25. If Porter goes, I want a guy that’s actually taken a team deep, especially with a bunch of young guys that don’t know anything about winning at the ML level.


  6. I am no fan of Porter. However, his mother made him take his ugly cousin to the Senior Prom. He did as he was told. And boy was she ugly. But until his mother finds him a pretty girl or 25, he is stuck at all the dances with an embarrassment. And Porter’s father made him walk to the dance instead of letting him take the family car.


  7. This is a tough one to decide. We are sitting here facing the very real possibility that the next regular season win for the Astros will be about 6 months from now. Porter having hardly any good ball players to work with is true. The players not having a very good manager to work under may also be true.
    I like his passion and enthusiasm – but let’s face it almost everyone that comes to this blog has passion and enthusiasm about baseball and the Astros – he needs to show more than that.
    I agree with others like Dr. Bill above – he has not shown consistency in his player relationships and frankly at times is a bit mouthy and too public about player miscues to the press. Is it honesty or is he using public pressure to push the guys – I don’t know.
    I like Tony D – I pushed for him as a candidate long before his interim stint.
    I don’t think you will be having a bunch of Hall of Fame candidates lining up for this job until the team is closer to respectable – perhaps after next season.
    I think for good or bad – Porter is going nowhere for the time being; I’m betting he starts 2014 as manager, but his leash is short…. I think a coach or three may get the axe this off-season.


  8. I don’t think I’ve been satisfied with any manager other than Larry Dierker. To be truthful, though, he lost it the last few years. Blame the players if you want, but I don’t think he was the same guy. However, part of his success can be attributed to just trusting the pitchers to get outs. That move backfired (ok, that quality was not comparable) for Porter this year and pushed him into a hyperactive usage of the bullpen. That backfired because the bullpen was unbelievably terrible.

    What killed me about Mills (and Cooper) were the mental mistakes. Pitchers couldn’t field their positions. Our third base coach was sending runners into stand-up outs at the plate and holding them at third base when they likely would have scored. Pop-ups were dropped (routinely) in foul territory leading to second chances for the opponents. Porter hasn’t done anything to clean these issues up. We can now add catchers not blocking the balls in the dirt to the list and baserunners being thrown out due to aggressiveness in situations that should be station to station. The strikeouts are something I cannot talk about rationally.


  9. When you only get to watch the Astros when they play the Rangers is not much of an opportunity to judge a manager. However, according to the statistics, the Astros did not get better in base running, defensive play, and just overall smarts. Even without MLB talent, you can train a team to play the best that they are able. When you see the bone-head plays by Villar and Altuve happen over and over again, it shows me, for whatever reason, there was a lack of improvement. I believe Porter will begin the season here in Houston, but Luhnow and Crane will not go down the 100-plus loss road without Porter being a casualty. I like Tony D, but we need somebody in Houston that the players are slightly scared of, not a friend to them. When Ralph Houk took over the Yankees, Dizzy Dean remarked from the broadcast booth that everyone on that team knew Ralph could whip them. You perform better in all jobs where your boss is not your friend.


  10. Pick your battles is what I think of Bo Porter. He knew this was going to be the greatest challenge of his life…….I just don’t think he knew it would EVER be *this*
    bad. The coaching staff has to own some of this crappola. Base running, misplaying routine balls, goes back to the coaches. I can imagine Porter sitting in his car at the parking lot…….beating on his steering wheel crying. It’s totally up to this organization to improve this team, and THAT requires M O N E Y . CSN has filed for bankruptcy
    today, and I think that tells you a LOT about how this year has gone. I think Porter will be given every chance to right the ship……..a short leash?? I think he will finish
    2014 with the Astros. This team has gotten a bad reputation of getting rid of managers at record speed. I’ll tell you what I’m tired of hearing “he’s only 21 he will get better in time”. You get Winter ball and Spring training……..if you start the next season with error after error…….you get to go back to the minors. PERIOD.


    • Part of the statement subsequent to the bankruptcy filing: “This action is necessary to preserve CSN Houston’s ability to provide its valuable programming and reaffirms Comcast/NBC Universal’s “This action is necessary to preserve CSN Houston’s ability to provide its valuable programming and reaffirms Comcast/NBC Universal’s commitment to serving the region and its fans,”

      Umm no. Not buying that load of crap. This is the most ludicrous lie in the form of a press release I’ve ever read.

      Like I said, it’s time for the fans, en masse, to step up and cry foul. Enough is enough. “…commitment to serving the region and its fans…” — what a joke!


    • Bankruptcy: Just wasted 30 minutes of my life reading the court filings on Chron dot com. The filing is over $50K in past due monies to Comcast “affiliates” in Colorado and California. Then 90% of one of the filings is redacted like “National Security” is involved. Sounds like the Comcast/Astros/Rocket family are all smiles, go to church, and wave at everyone in the neighborhood, but back home all is NOT WELL.
      It would appear that Comcast and probably the Rockets, want Crane out of the deal. Not sure, but that is how it appears. With the Astros Season over and Nielsen ratings of -0-, might be a little more than the other two can stand. One has to smile when a bunch of millionaires hire attorneys from all over the US to get into a court fight.


      • We can only hope that Crooked Crane gets kicked out of the club, no TV deal gets done next year, and the fans revolt. If he loses his shirt, then this would only serve to expedite the process of getting a NL franchise returned to Houston. And yes, IT COULD HAPPEN. It’s only a matter of time before MLB expands to a perfect 32 teams anyway.


  11. I have not seen enough of the Astros this year to make a fair assessment of Porter, but when the team continues to make the same baserunning mistakes some of that has to fall on the manager. Maybe the problem will solve itself and he will be hired away to replace Davey Johnson in Washington. I am a big proponent of letting Tony D. take over as manager once Porter is gone. I don’t think they will fire Porter in the offseason, but agree he will be on a short leash starting next year.


  12. I think that Devin has got it exactly right. I could understand that Astros having around one strikeouts each and every inning. Hate it, but I could understand that happening in April. But, in every month of the season, including September!

    Fire this guy now because he has failed clearly and fully in his primary job. It was to actually coach these young minor league players how to play major league baseball. Did anyone see actual improvement in any player?

    Where there was improvement (Brett Wallace, perhaps), it came in OKC. Maybe his secondary job was as a cheerleader and if so he did well at that, except for the fact that the players had tuned in our by the end of the season.

    Jeff, sent him off somewhere and admit a mistake and start over!


  13. Well, I guess that’s that. I’m sure most people were watching football this weekend instead of baseball, but there were some interesting things that went down:
    – Sat: Winning pitcher: Pettitte, Losing pitcher: Clemens
    – Sun: Michael Cuddyer won the batting title at .321 (.389 OBP, .530 SLG). He was best at Coors, but still better than anyone we had in uniform on the road (.311 / .367 / .485). He beat out Chris Johnson for the title (.321 / .358 / .457). Really? How did he do that over 514 AB?
    – Chris Carter added three more K’s to finish with a league leading 212. He had 228 total bases for the season.
    – Matt Dominguez did NOT strike out six times on Sunday. He stuck out twice in 6 at bats to finish with a total of 96 for the season.
    – Hou ended with four triple digit K guys: Carter, Castro (130), Barnes (127), and Wallace (104)
    – Mariano Rivera did not pitch in Houston.
    – Hou did NOT lose as many as Detroit in 2003 (119)! Hooray!!!
    – Hou lost our 15th consecutive game to end the season. Baltimore lost 21 straight in 1988 (during the same season). I’m not sure what the record is across years. Regardless, getting win #1 and not loss #1 on opening day needs to be a priority for this club.


  14. The Phillies let Rich Dubee go today……..I’d jump all over this guy.
    He’s had some of the BEST pitchers in MLB for a long time……and could REALLY
    help this young core of pitchers.


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