It’s Porter, not Luhnow, on the Astros’ hot seat

If you’re looking for a scapegoat for the Astros’ poor season, look no further than the dugout. Think about it: Jim Crane could fire Jeff Luhnow. Luhnow could fire Bo Porter. Who’s Porter going to fire?

Nope, unless there is a turnaround this summer, other than a handful of pitchers and hitters, Porter is the man in the hottest seat. Let’s have a conversation.

Is Porter really on the hot seat?

  • Fair or not, Porter was on the hot seat when he became the manager of the Houston Astros in late 2012. Some might say he never had a chance. Others would suggest that a young, rebuilding team didn’t need a novice as a manager, rather a leader who was experienced and seasoned.  This may sound like an obituary, but for the record, Porter is still manager of the Houston Astros. For now. But the seat is heating up quickly.  Jeff Luhnow may be giving Bo a vote of confidence, but if the Astros are 20+ games out at the All Star break and headed for another 100+ loss season, Luhnow would have to convene his inner circle and make a change.

If not Bo, then who?

  • There are some options. However, if Bo is dismissed in mid-season, it’s likely the Astros will only bring in a care-taker for the remainder of the season. The leading candidates for that role would likely be third base coach Pat Listach or Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco. Dave Trembley? No thanks. Does anyone remember the three other finalists when Porter was hired? For what it’s worth, none are managing today in the majors. Interestingly, Listach was the Nationals’ third base coach before Porter. A native of Natchitoches, Louisiana, (my hometown), Listach was the PCL manager of the year in 2008.

Did the Astros miss it?

  • That’s an open-ended question for which I’m sure many people will respond with a resounding “YES!” But the real question is did the Astros miss it by not hiring Brad Ausmus? You may say Ausmus didn’t want to be in Houston, but part of that reason may be because the Astros didn’t pursue him heartily. Perhaps the Astros wouldn’t give him carte blanche with his coaching staff. Maybe there were other red flags for Ausmus. But, there is little doubt in this fan’s mind that Ausmus was the guy, especially when you consider the team will have a young — very young — pitching staff for the rest of this decade.
  • If not Ausmus, who would you have hired instead of Porter two years ago?

And, a few other managerial questions to start your weekend.

  • D0es Porter finish the season as Astros’ manager?
  • If you were named Astros’ manager today, what are the first three things you would do?
  • Who do you consider to be the best 2-3 managers in the game today?
  • Ausmus (Tigers), Rick Renteria (Cubs), Matt Williams (Nationals), Bryan Price (Reds), Lloyd McClendon (Mariners) were hired by their teams in the off season. Which of these would you prefer over Porter?
  • Which of these old-timers interests you as manager: Tony Larussa (68), Bobby Valentine (63), Charlie Manuel (69), Jim Leyland (68), or  Dusty Baker (64)?

25 comments on “It’s Porter, not Luhnow, on the Astros’ hot seat

  1. Ausmus didn’t want this gig with this team no way. Shot who even knows how good he is or will be, he walked into a world series contender for years. I’m not sure I couldn’t get the Tigers to the WS. If Lunhow does make the move I would stay internal for now, PT or TD. Then spend the winter doing one awesome search for the right guy for the next 10 years. oh wait he is right here, BIggio. (STABILITY)

    Singleton up
    Carter gone
    The dude with the pink glove gone
    Later in the year look at Wates, Tucker, Folty, Trop.


  2. I don’t see much difference between Porter and Phil Garner. Both made bone-headed decisions on a constant basis. The quality of lineups is quite different, however.

    We’re talking about a 100 loss team here. It is not built to be better than that. If we had Singleton up it could only make a positive impact. Beyond that we could drop some guys like Williams, but the replacement options aren’t working (cisneros/Clemens/Chapman/etc.) And it hardly makes sense to push a guy like Folty out of the rotation to shore up the bullpen on a last place team in May.

    I feel for Bo here. The team was going to lose under his stewardship… At least in the first couple years. He may not get another shot at managing, and may not deserve one fwiw.


  3. I think Porter was hired because he was seen as tough-nosed and disciplined. Trouble is, he makes dumb mistakes, airs dirty laundry in the press and treats baseball players like a football team.

    I thought he was a good hire until we’d had him about two months. Then I realized the magnitude of the error.

    When we were searching for a manager, I wanted Tony D hired. In his short interim term he took a group of dysfunctional kids and made them start believing in themselves.

    I think Porter is on the clock, and I think the bells start ringing when Tony D feels up to the job after his health problems. Luhnow and his brain trust are all numbers guys, but they’ve got to realize that all the trends and skills don’t mean a thing without drive and heart.

    Porter doesn’t get drive and heart out of players. Tony D is nothing but drive and heart … and some of these same kids have been with him at the helm on a winning team. I think that can make them believe.

    Dump Carter. Promote Singleton. Give Krauss another month and then see if Wates or Santana is ready. Look at AA and AAA and put your best non-MLB-rotation guys in the bullpen. That means Owens or Folty are looked at in addition to Cruz and the other relievers. And I think this team starts winning more games. Not .500, but somewhere in that ballpark.


  4. Brad Ausmus is an interesting story. As I recall, he left in 2008 for the West Coast to be near his family. The girls are still teenagers. Detroit is not very close to California. Not sure what all that means, but perhaps he was not interested in playing nor managing in Houston.


  5. Brad Ausmus never intended to take on this team………he said that BEFORE he arrived in Houston for the interview. He looked at the “plan” and said no thank you, but thanks for the free plane ride, and nice lunch. Bo Porter *thought* he could use enough “motivational” signs, to get blood outta this turnip…….but that back fired on him by July of last year. Luhnow is well aware of this club’s 11 wins, and if I was a betting girl (which I am), he’s looking for a new manager as we speak. Tony D. is still fighting cancer, and the stress of trying to get this team back on tract would probably KILL him……and I’m not kidding about that. This team HAS talent, and there are a few guys in the minors that could come up, and make them even better.
    I would look to Nolan Ryan for his thoughts on how to get this team going. Nolan
    is the guy looking at this team from the outside looking in, and could offer his take on what has to happen. I have no idea if Bo Porter has lost his clubhouse, but something ain’t right, or we would see a LOT more smiling faces on that field.


    • Did you see the Springer walk off hit last week? There were plenty of smiling faces. Readinto whatyou see what you will, but remember that winning cures all ills. No one on the team is hitting. Good pitching is wasted by the bullpen and lack of offense.

      These are young guys accustomed to winning and being stars. Losing, especially when struggling individually, is difficult to take. I personally see 2014,as an improvement over Sept 2013 where no one seemed to care when they struck out, threw the ball into the stands, and lost 15 straight.


  6. There are many problems with Porter, the most fundamental being that I don’t see him as a student of the game or particularly knowledgeable regarding basic strategy. I don’t think the guys respect him or would go to him with questions about what they should do in certain situations. OTOH, the areas I see the most improvement in are middle infield defense and baserunning. Those are areas where Pat Listach has primary responsibility. What we need out of this season is individual player improvement and outside of Altuve and Villar I haven’t seen much.


  7. Boy – lots of good points up and down the blog here. Lots of “bingos” from me.
    My thoughts:
    – I do not blame Porter for not winning with a team that is not yet built to win.
    – What I do blame him for are:
    – Bad lineups
    – Fighting against platooning
    – Disciplining his team in the press
    – Bad in-game decisions
    – Lack of most players showing basic “brains” on the field
    – Great points about how Villar and Altuve – coached by the same guy – are ouor best players so far.
    – Does Porter finish the season? It may finish me and give me that final big heart attack – but I think they will not replace him during the season. But he should not have a lease that extends beyond October.
    – If I were the Astros manager today – I would demand that they send me Singleton now. I would tell the players that when I have problems with them they would hear it from my mouth – either in the dugout if it is only a teaching moment or in my office if it is a more serious lapse. I would also ask for a new hitting coach.
    – The best 2-3 managers today – tough since so many of the best have retired lately. I’ve always thought the Twins Gardenhire over achieved, like Joe Maddon of the Rays and Bochy of the Giants. There are a lot of guys out there without a big track record so tough to judge.
    – My snide remark is that most of those young managers and old managers are probably better than Porter.


  8. The Astros have won 11 of their last 50. I’m not sure how many guys have ever kept a job going through a similar stretch. I have one question. What single thing has Bo Porter done with this club that would make one think he might have a future as a manager? Only his team can save him from being canned, All Star break at the latest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • daveb – Hey 11 wins 39 losses is way better than the Texans 2 wins 14 losses last season and Gary Kubiak kept his job….wait a minute – really – he was fired?
      Your point about what single thing has he done to assure his future….it says it all.
      It might not be fair but there is no real reason to think that he will make it past the end of the season (except that unannounced lifetime contract at $100,000 a year).


    • I’m trying to stay out of the fray a little bit.
      The amazing thing about the farm guys now is the second base and SS position guys. Tony Kemp has been the best player in the system so far this season. He was Lancaster’s position player of the month for April, but has gone crazy in May with a .440 batting average, good play at 2b and plenty of stolen bases. his OPS is something like 920 for the season. Since he leads off he has the most at bats, so his sample size(Not his height size, teehee) is larger than others.
      Ronald Torreyes is playing 2b right now for OKC and his fielding has been better there than at SS. He is batting over .300 and at age 21 has been incredible considering he has not had an at-bat against any pitcher younger than himself and his strikeout rate in AAA is under 5%.
      Everybody said Andrew Aplin’s long swing would catch up with him in CC but he must have adjusted because his average has slowly climbed toward .300 and he has walked more times than he has struck out and the RBIs just keep coming. Aplin had to move out of CF for DDJ but has gone back to CF when Delino got beaned. Aplin is a wonderful surprise so far this year. Correa and Ruiz are both hitting over .300 but Carlos is still trying to get his rythym back after missing a couple of weeks with a sore arm and then got hit again by a pitch a couple of nights ago. Ruiz has more errors than we like at 3b but he has worked hard and is still only 20 years old so he has time to improve his defense and his offense has picked up where he left off last year. Teoscar Hernandez has been really hitting the ball hard all spring but his defense has been bad in Lancaster. Enrique Hernandez hit the ball so well at CC he got promoted to OKC and is hitting over .300 there. He is the biggest surprise of the year so far and, of course, he is also another middle infielder.


      • One more interesting note: Kemp has 27 plate appearances w/RISP and two outs this season so far. He has 8 hits, 8 RBIs and only one strikeout in those situations with a .400 batting average. That is an amazing stat for a leadoff hitter. Clutch!


  9. DaveB……I gotta agree with you, although we don’t see him in the clubhouse talking to his team………but you do make a valid point.


    • \\\
      I tweeted ‘Jerome Williams in a tie game?’ ‘Really?’. I really am dumbfounded by the decisions made by Bo Porter. I could understand if it was 6-6 in the 5th, but it was 2-2 going to the bottom of the 7th and, as expected, JW, gave it up quickly. #gascanWilliams


  10. The Jerome Williams pick up is ALL on Luhnow. There is a reason he hasn’t pitched in several days………HE SUCKS BIG TIME. This was a winnable game, and to put a guy like Williams in had disaster written all over it.
    Question: *who* is the team leader of this this group, or do they even have a leader?
    Norris, for the most part was kind of that guy last year…….but I have not seen “the”
    guy this year. Maybe that’s what’s missing………no direction, no leadership, and no one to look up to. This is nearly the middle of May, and these guys have *11* wins.


  11. That is a good point, Becky. I think this team lacks a clubhouse/field leader. No one on this team knows how to win and, thus, no one can lead by example or be a vocal leader. The manager isn’t doing it so a player needs to step up, but I don’t know who we have that can take that role.


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