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.