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One for daveb: Let the Bo Porter discussion begin


BY DAN PESCHONG

Our loyal blogmate daveb has been begging for a shot at talking about Bo Porter all off-season. Daveb – we write to serve here at chipalatta.com.

It is difficult to judge managers when they do not have a lot to work with and the lot they do have is filled with inexperience. At the end, Brad Mills had diddly squat on the squad; Bo Porter in 2013 had double secret probation diddly squat jr. to manage.

Still there are things that give us some idea of who we have here in the manager’s spot and this is a quick look at some of those “things”.

Lineups. Porter went through a ton of lineups last season (specifically 139), which makes sense since he had 50 players with the big club at one time or another. As a semi-stat guy a lot of the decisions he made with player placement made little sense. Jose Altuve in the third or fourth spot was pure poison and now we hear he will be doing it again.

Platoons. Porter has said this spring he does not believe in platoons. But just last season we saw a middle of the road Oakland team ride platoons to a third best OPS in the AL. Open that mind Bo.

Base Running Aggressiveness. In 2013, one of the few things the Astros led the league in was caught stealing and it was not even close with 61 CS vs. 46 for the next worst team. And this did not even count the many players sliced down trying to take an extra base that just was not there. This one is on the manager.

Bullpen Use. I can’t go pound on Bo for this one. His starting pitchers stunk and did not go deep into games. He had to go to the pen and in most cases this came down to which gasoline brand to bring to the fire.

Team Discipline. All managers will occasionally go to the media with a player discipline complaint. Bo Porter seemed to make this his signature move. It is hard to hold a clubhouse if the players think their manager is going to not only throw them under the bus, but drive the bus themselves.

So, daveb – there you go. Anything you want to add, subtract, lean on or argue with – the floor is turned over to you and all your buddies.

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

59 comments on “One for daveb: Let the Bo Porter discussion begin

  1. BrianT
    March 29, 2014

    When is Tony D supposed to be healthy from his bout with cancer (spit!)?

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Brian T – other than saying that Tony will miss the beginning of the season – there was no news on what type of cancer and what stage and how treatable – etc.
      I could say that it really does not matter who manages the Astros right now – but I think it will start being really important from the second half of this season onward.

      Like

    • daveb
      March 30, 2014

      Wow, 45 comments.

      Like

  2. Dan P
    March 29, 2014

    We – at chipalatta.com – lift our sincere prayers for Tony D’s recovery and for his family during this difficult time.

    Like

    • Astro45
      March 29, 2014

      Double That………………

      Like

    • BrianT
      March 29, 2014

      Amen!

      Like

  3. Chip Bailey
    March 29, 2014

    Dan, I dunno if it’s fair to criticize, judge or even ridicule any manager of this team for the past few years. Would the team have lost 111 games with Tony Larussa at the helm?

    With the merry-go-round and many scrubs, replacements and even the injuries, Bo has had to experiment, use trial by error (wait, that should be trial AND error) and even plug holes with players who shouldn’t be there.

    That’s no apology for Bo, I’ve seen what everyone else has seen and your assessment above is accurate.

    After looking at your post, I was appalled to look up the stats to see that the Astros had 61 caught stealings in 2013. However, more startling is the success rates of some of the key players! Brandon Barnes was 50% (11-for-22), Robbie Grossman was 46% (6-for-13) not to mention Jake Elmore (1-for-7) and Jimmy Paredes (4-for-8). Moreover, Altuve and Barnes were #1 and #3 in the AL in caught stealing.

    And, yes, this stat is clearly on the manager. He’s either making the calls or he’s giving a green light to certain (or all) players. Obviously, you can write up some of the decisions to desperation to get a guy into scoring position late in a game, but if you don’t have the personnel who can make it happen…well…

    And, totally agreed on the airing your grievances in the media…

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Yes, Chip thanks for throwing out the individual stats here. Obviously they were desperate to move guys over – but frankly all stat guys will tell you that numbers like that hurt your chances of scoring – period. The Red Sox were the gold standard for stealing bases in 2013. 123 SBs and only 19!!!! CS’s. Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia combined for 90 steals and only 12 CS. Altuve had 35 SB and 13 CS himself.
      I can’t judge Porter completely – but he seems to be a hard headed guy and not as stat savvy as a team needs in these modern times. Maybe he will prove me wrong – I hope so.

      Like

  4. 1oldpro
    March 29, 2014

    Platooning- Porter said he didn’t like it because he would rather have a player who could play that position every day. He doesn’t have those kind of players so he has adapted.
    Base running- How long did Porter have to teach Altuve how to run bases, or Grossman or Villar or Barnes or Hoes? Is he responsible for teaching them how to steal or run the bases when they were in the minors? How was he supposed to get runners to home when he was given one of the worst OBP and the worst K rate to work with? Was he supposed to teach Ronnie Cedeno or Rick Ankiel to steal bases? How can you give a manager mud and urine and ask him to make chocolate?
    Lineups- See Base Running, above
    Bullpen- The article mentions the bad starters of last year but leaves out the horrible relievers. Porter puts in the guy he needs and then watches the guy fail. He puts in the next guy and watches him fail. The he puts in the next guy and watches him pitch a perfect inning when the team is down by five runs. So the next day that guy gets the call and he gives up three walks and three runs. It’s hard to soar with eagles, when…. well you see where this is going.
    Discipline- This one is on Porter. Keep your mouth closed when there is a reporter within fifty yards and handle your business in your office! Treat all your players the same and do it quietly. And call out an umpire publicly during the game and get yourself thrown out when he is shafting your pitchers. You let that happen way too often last year. Let the umpiring crew chief know why you did it right after you get thrown out and tell him that you expect better from his crew from then on. After the game don’t say anything to your players about it. They will know why you did it. Blow up and then shut up.

    Like

  5. daveb
    March 29, 2014

    I’ve seen Bo unfamiliar with rules that every manager should know.

    I’ve seen Altuve misused. The manager should be putting guys in a position where they are most likely to succeed. Altuve won’t be learning how to extend a count in the three of four slot. That’s what’s going to make him a successful hitter and make the line up stronger overall. Instead, he’ll be up there hacking away as usual.

    Bo is a loudmouth. He talks about his players in the press, but is not a happy guy when one of his players goes public.

    Bo is bush league. Really, practicing high fives in order to get the feel for winning? I played a lot of slow pitch softball in my post baseball days and we always had an unwritten rule after a win, in that we’d act like we’d been there before and then go “pound some Budweiser”. I think I stole that line from Joe Schultz in “Ball Four”, Jim Bouton’s book.

    And yes, the stinky base stealing, ( I mean attempted base stealing) is another annoyance. We’d have been better off last year if we had not tried to steal a base. And if Bo has given the green light to any guy on this team, well then he’s as inept as some of our base runners. And there is such a thing as some guys, especially young guys, learning how to steal a base. Maybe Bo does not know though.

    And the platoon thing does boggle my mind. Heck, we’ve got the worst team in the game. Squeeze quality at bats out of the roster. If a righty lefty match up gives you a better chance, use it. It’s not as if these platoon stats are obscure, controversial concepts. Gil Hodges won a World Series with a seven year old Met team in 1969 by using platoons at three or four postions everyday, and throughout the Series. Of course it keeps guys motivated too. I’d like to understand better why Bo does not believe in the concept.

    Obviously, I could go on. But the biggest thing to me is that Bo does not have his team playing smart, lose ball. I don’t see too many guys having fun out there. I know that uptight guys make more mistakes. It’s human nature. And Bo’s teams have not played real smart ball either. I think we can teach a bunch of 12 year olds to play good fundamental ball. But Bo has not managed that either.

    I’ve got a plane to catch. I’ll follow up later!

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Thanks daveb – fly carefully.
      I also had problems with his faux motivation techniques like saying the players did not earn their names on their backs last season – but now they do. What the hey?

      Like

  6. Dan P
    March 29, 2014

    OP –
    – Baserunning – I agree he had little time to teach these guys to steal – but he is the manager and he can give them red lights or don’t send them if they are going to be coming back with 50% rates on stealing. If your OBP is terrible you better cherish your runners not spend them foolishly.
    – Lineups – I agree that he had so many lemons he could have made a lemonade factory so I’m not terribly hard on him there.
    – Bullpen – If you read carefully I am saying he had a terrible bullpen (only choice was which brand of gasoline to bring to the fire) – so as I said I can’t pound Bo on this one.

    I listed these as things that even a 1st year manager has control on. I think he did a bad job on Baserunning and Team discipline, I think he did all he could in most cases on bullpen use and lineups (though Altuve’s use bothers me) and I totally do not understand his statement on platooning.

    Like

  7. Devin
    March 29, 2014

    Can someone come to Bo’s defense and describe a way the team improved by season’s end? Promoting Cosart does not count.

    I’m not ready to kick him to the curb yet. If we still run into dumb outs and fail to play fundamental ball through the first couple months we can talk again. As for platoons, I agree with daveb but also don’t think it is fair for an individual to use a bad matchup as a defense. This goes for infield shifts as well.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      I’m willing to give Bo a chance to show something. I am always the one to point out that Casey Stengel was a lot more brilliant as a manager when he was with the Yankees than when he moved across town to the Mets.
      But your point Devin is well taken. Did we see players improve under him or actually regress?
      Porter reminds me of some folks I see in my line of work. They think when you get promoted to boss you have to act like a boss to get respect. No, people are smarter than that – they want to see someone who is genuine, not acting for the media and I think Bo has gone that direction too much. Hey, he is a young guy in his first mlb manager’s spot – hopefully he can learn and develop like his players.

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 29, 2014

      Devin, I can’t. But I just cannot fault the manager for all of this. They got rid of guys and brought in Blackley and Berger and a whole slew of misfits. I mean, God could have coached that team but no human could have and won.
      Now I admit he made mistakes, but he has this year to show some progress in his managing and in his player development, or I’m gonna be on him like I got on Mills after two bad years.

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 29, 2014

        It is a toughie to judge – but based on things I’m looking for in decision making – I’m not impressed.

        Like

    • daveb
      March 30, 2014

      We can’t come to his defense and describe a way the team improved by seasons end, because they lost their last 15,

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 30, 2014

        Yeah that really was disturbing to me – usually teams don’t belly up on a manager until a few years have passed.

        Like

  8. drbill14
    March 29, 2014

    I think Bo is the poster child for the Peter Principle; pretty good 3B coach but lousy manager. I coached High School baseball a number of years ago and at that level even the players knew a pitcher has to face one batter. Of course a crew of major league umpires also apparently didn’t know the rule!

    With regard to the lineup, even though Altuve is popular and makes a lot of decent contact he really ought to be hitting in the seven or eight hole. Putting him in the top half of the order is square peg in round hole thinking. Altuve is relatively fast but not a good baserunner. In my book he ranked number one on the team last year by a large margin for bonehead baserunning. The Astros ought to put him in a room with Jeff Bagwell and not let him out until he watched many hours of Bagwell video showing how a real master runs the bases.

    Baseball is so mental but Porter seems to find coaching role models on the football field. In baseball a player needs to know what he is going to do with the ball before it is hit to him and needs to know when he can take an extra base on an outfielder moving laterally. To be successful in baseball one must maximize mental preparedness and to some extent minimize emotion. I don’t see Porter doing so personally or encouraging that in his players. Right now he is managing a AAAA team and is in the player development business. If he fails at that he won’t get the chance to manage a major league team where winning will be the primary goal.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Lots of good points Dr. Bill – baseball is a lot more cerebral than the other sports – or should be.

      Like

  9. Chip Bailey
    March 29, 2014

    Has anyone else noticed that you have to go back to the mid 90s to find an Astros’ manager who has managed AFTER the Astros let him go? In other words, Larry Dierker, Jimy Williams, Phil Garner, Cecil Cooper, and Brad Mills didn’t — or at least haven’t yet — had another MLB managing job. Even Tony DeFrancesco apparently didn’t get calls from other MLB teams and ended up back at OKC.

    Is it any wonder that 3 of those 5 (not counting Tony D) were first-time managers? No conclusions or suggestions, just an observation.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Yes – have noticed that for a long time – never understood why Dierker was fired much less never picked up elsewhere.
      I guess Collins and Howe were the ones who did get picked up elsewhere in the recent past.
      Hal Lanier was another one who apparently rubbed too many noses the wrong way to get another mlb job.

      Like

  10. Astro45
    March 29, 2014

    Chip, I have noticed that managers and players both are at that last train stop before the “railway turntable” station.

    Like

  11. Bo Weaver
    March 29, 2014

    Considering that his salary is so dirt cheap that the Lastros were too embarrassed to announce the terms of the agreement, my guess he is a vital part of the grand (cheapskate) plan.

    I doubt he’s going anywhere for awhile.

    Legit managers cost money, and dumping a manager mid-stream and eating his salary–even Bo’s paltry salary–does not fit the Astros’ overarching plan for absurd frugality.

    Then again, when the youngsters finally come up and everyone expects them to “compete” (cough, cough), THEN he’ll be a perfect scapegoat.

    But it’s not scapegoat time just yet.

    Ergo, Bo will be safe in loserville in 2014, I predict.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      The Astros had no problem dumping Pena and Ankiel and eating their salaries which had to be more than Porter’s – so I’m not sure that part is true.

      Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 29, 2014

        The replacement value for a legit manager is the key difference here. If you recall, Pena and Ankiel’s salaries were ridiculously low. But at least they were replaced by, ehem, league minimum salaried players.

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 29, 2014

        Penas contract was $3 mill – not that low – I think Ankiel was around the vet minimum or a bit above.
        They walked away from more miney there than they would with Porter. And they could replace him with a decent manager without that much impact – Tony D for instance.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 30, 2014

        Dan, don’t confuse blogger Bo with facts. He hates those.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 29, 2014

      I’m going to ask you where you found his salary figure and share the amount with us because I have looked everywhere and haven’t found it. So I’m politely asking you to share it or shut up. Oh wait, you are just guessing and then puking the same old stuff about the fish head.

      Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 29, 2014

        Like I said, the figure was never announced. But it doesn;t take a rocket surgeon to surmise that there is a good reason why the upper brass kept this close to the vest.

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 29, 2014

        Bo – I tried to look up manager’s salaries from around the league and more are secret than published.

        Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 29, 2014

        I researched this less than two years ago (when Bo was signed) and, at the time, his was the ONLY salary and term not available to the public. I posted this fact on Chip’s blog.

        Thus, without backing with due diligence, I don’t think your statement is accurate at all.

        But, please don’t miss the point. I will not shutup. Crane is cheap, and he is greedy (and a thief, but I’ll let that one go for now); and if Bo Porter’s mystery salary doesn’t satisfy you as evidence, then I’ll defer to the other 112 items, your honor.

        Seriously. I’d bet good money that BoPo (as in dirt po) is the lowest paid manager in all of MLB. I’m very certain of this. It’ll come out one day…

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 29, 2014

        Bo go research this again and you will find I am right. You may be right that Bo is low man but there are a lot of teams not publicizing it anymore.

        Like

    • daveb
      March 30, 2014

      If he has not won 30 by the break, I think he goes then.

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 30, 2014

        Usually the break is past the true half of the season so 30 is not that challenging

        Like

  12. Dan P
    March 29, 2014

    There is always big arguments about how many games does a manager effect. I dont think it is a ton – but something that bothered me was the free fall at the end of last season. Usually in September the young hungry teams can manage to win some when the other teams are playing out the string. The Astros seemed to go thru the motions the 2nd half of sept. not a good sign

    Like

    • daveb
      March 30, 2014

      Dan, we’ll see how challenging 30 wins will be by the break!

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 30, 2014

        30 wins at the break would be a 30-66 record – on a 51-111 pace. Bye bye Bo?

        Like

  13. Astro45
    March 29, 2014

    Springer is now hitting .250. Does he get to stay????

    Like

  14. Dan P
    March 29, 2014

    If he will only sign that contract buying out his arb and some of his FA – he would.
    But he won’t.

    Like

    • Astro45
      March 29, 2014

      DanP, I want to comment so bad…………. but I won’t. HOWEVER, had Bo had Springer in September then maybe…………………..

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 29, 2014

        That is true – I know he did not have much but he also got very little out of what he did have down the stretch.

        Like

  15. Billy Castillo
    March 29, 2014

    Okay…if you had to rank the Astros managers post-Dierker, how would you rank them?

    I’d go

    1) Phil Garner

    big gap

    2) Cecil Cooper- By default, really. Like Porter, he had a bad habit of mouthing off to the press, and also ruined at least two careers due to that (Towles), and inability to manage a bullpen (Sampson). But, compared to the others on the list, he at least was a decent manager strategy-wise, and it’s only his tendency to alienate his players (see Oswalt, although considering what we know about Roy’s personality now, it may not have been entirely on Cooper to begin with) that has prevented him from getting another job.

    3). Porter- Also by default. But my God, he’s about to plummet down this list by mid-season.

    4), Jimy Williams- Only for his knowledge of the game. He was a great coach. As a manager, though, he absolutely sucked. There is a REASON why in his career, teams got better after he was replaced as manager, usually immediately.

    5) Brad Mills- Could’ve flipped a coin and gone either way with him or Jimy. Williams. Same exact kind of manager. At least Williams had the respect of his players. Mills came across as a run-down version of the Tin Woodsman, if said robot had been left in charge of the teens from the film Dangerous Minds…rather than reacting to the action around him, just marching repeatedly into a brick wall, muttering ‘Error! Error!’ while things crumble around him.

    Only reason why I didn’t include Tony D was because he wasn’t hired on permanently, If he had, he’d probably be at the top. We should’ve hired him, dammit!

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 29, 2014

      Interesting list Billy C – I’d have to grade Porter incomplete right now – not enough data to even really judge him against these other guys.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        March 29, 2014

        True. The way he’s heading, though. is not looking good. We’ve had some BAD hires.Picking Porter over DeFrancesco, though, may prove to be the worst. Time will tell…

        Like

  16. Dan P
    March 29, 2014

    I agree – I liked the Luhnow hiring – not much else the last decade

    Like

  17. Bo Weaver
    March 29, 2014

    It took me 10 seconds to find that Brad Ausmus signed a 3 year deal with the Tigers, with a club option for a 4th year. Didn’t the Astros interview Brad Ausmus, and he turned them down? Good for him!

    Like

  18. Becky
    March 30, 2014

    I think we all agree that some of Bo Porter’s moves have been head scratcher’s, but at the same time we need to look at the Astros track records of keeping managers. True……LaRussa may have had the same outcome as Brad Mills had, but looking at the list of managers
    who turned down the job before Crane hired Porter, is a telling point.
    My main objection to Porter, is airing the dirty laundry to the media and
    the odd use of lineups. Look……..Porter is gonna be given every chance to fail before he is let go…….that’s the reason he won’t be fired mid season this year. *Who* do you think would take the job if Porter was let go????? Me either.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 30, 2014

      There are only 30 manager spots in the MLB and even the worse looking job has been filled. If Porter goes someone will follow.

      Like

  19. Sandy
    March 30, 2014

    When Cooper was manager I said anyone could do a better job. I was so wrong. Mills and Porter are just as bad. I really wish they had given the job to Tony D.
    Who would take the job. Good question. But if these young kids are gonna succeed they will need a better leader.
    Sooner rather than later.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 30, 2014

      Yes we seem to be on a downward spiral on managers but it will be interesting his much better that will look when the talent is improving.

      Like

  20. rj
    March 30, 2014

    berger traded for a player to be named with oakland. does that mean they would gladly pay us tuesday for a berger today??

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 30, 2014

      Funny as heck Wimpy – I mean rj!

      Like

  21. daveb
    March 30, 2014

    By the way, besides hitting .250 at this point, Springer also owns a .413 OBP. 11 walks and 10 K’s. Guess how many guys on the squad have a higher OBP today? Wasn’t his BB/K rate the one knock on the kid? The only thing they could find wrong with the guy? Obviously, he’s made a real positive effort in that regard. Speaking of Bo again, has he said anything positive about Springer and his great selectivity at the plate? If he has, I’ve missed it. I suppose it would be pretty stupid to say something nice about a guy getting ready to be sent down.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 30, 2014

      Dave Dave Dave – stop using stats and logic – why would we want a guy who gets on base more than 40% hitting 3rd when we can have somebody who gets on base 30 % of the time there?

      Like

  22. daveb
    March 30, 2014

    Dan, if he can get on base at a .370 clip, he’ll hit. He won’t be a Fontana. And if given the chance, we wouldn’t need to be discussing the foolishness of Altuve hitting in the third and forth slots. Springer will really help the lineup when he finally gets a job.

    Like

  23. daveb
    March 30, 2014

    And our guy Springer has his OPS up to .774. Our starter in right? .511. His OBP? .267. Average? .220. And those of us going to the opener get to pay dynamic pricing for that dynamic right fielder named Hoes. We’re getting hosed again!

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 30, 2014

      Springer should have been here last September and he should be here now. This may be business but it is bad business.

      Like

  24. daveb
    March 30, 2014

    Dan, thanks for the Bo post by the way.

    Like

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