Are the rumblings growing louder for Jeff Luhnow’s head? Maybe, but it would take failure of a gargantuan level for owner Jim Crane to blow it all up three years into the reconstruction blueprint that promises and improvement this year. Wouldn’t it?
Internal tension seems unavoidable. Owner Jim Crane has made no secret of his desire for the team to win more games. Nolan Ryan, appointed as an executive adviser last February, comes from an entirely different background than Luhnow — and Ryan’s son, Reid, is the Astros’ president of business operations.
Maybe it’s time to take out a blank piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and write the pros on one side and cons on the other. Pros, as in the reasons Luhnow should keep his job. Cons, as in the list of arguments to fire the third-year GM.
There is a plethora of cons no doubt. Certainly the critics can list more negatives than plusses, but wouldn’t that be true of most any GM in the same situation? Especially at this juncture of his tenure?
I’ll let you put together the complete lists, but here’s the quick argument against firing Luhnow. At least right now. Do you really believe the best answer is for the organization to start all over and further delay the return to competitiveness?
Firing Luhnow would likely require a complete overhaul of the front office, which could set the organization back another decade. So many of the personnel from coaches to minor league staff to scouts and player evaluators subscribe to the Luhnow system.
If Luhnow goes, a dozen or more others will follow and it would be an admission by Crane that one of his primary decisions was wrong. Remember, it wouldn’t be the first admission: George Postolos left last year.
Are those reasons not to fire Luhnow? Not entirely, but it should give pause to Crane to consider the decision from every angle. A Luhnow firing would come with huge ramifications. Then again, you can make the same argument if he continues in his role.
Perhaps a better solution is to bring a balance to the front office. Managers are asked to restructure their staffs often. GMs shuffle the roster regularly. Yet, Luhnow’s staff has largely been kept intact since Day 1.
The key to success is being able to put key people around the GM to create a solid, well-rounded nucleus that doesn’t mind speaking its opinion. That’s the answer, not a firing.
While the question is simple, though, the answer is not.
- Is starting over with a new GM … again … the answer?
- If Luhnow abandoned the tandem pitching system, would that be enough to win you over?
- What’s Luhnow’s biggest faux pas?
- And, his biggest success or benefit?
- If Luhnow were fired, should Bo Porter follow?
- If not now, at what point will Luhnow wear out his welcome?
- Any successors you would recommend heartily?