Porter gone, let the rants and raves begin


Bo Porter probably won’t be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers with Jeff Luhnow today.

Indeed, there was more than just smoke with the recent Porter-Luhnow rumblings.

Porter has been fired by the Astros, less than two years into his tenure with the rebuilding organization. Bench coach Dave Trembley is also gone. Corpus Christi manager Tom Lawless takes over as the interim manager and former Astros’ shortstop Adam Everett has also been added to the major league coaching staff.

Whether it was about his players or his relationship with managers, Porter seemed to prefer to play out his opinions in public. Jim Crane and Luhnow seem to prefer the private, behind-the-scenes method of communication, making Porter’s continual comments to the media difficult to balance.

Moreover, in the Astros’ press release about the firings, Luhnow seems to take responsibility for the Astros’ win-loss record and, in essence, confirmed recent reports of unrest in the organization.

This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.

Crane also solidified his support of Luhnow in his own statement: ” Jeff has my full support moving forward. Our goal to bring a championship to Houston remains.”

Let the rants and raves begin.

 

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138 comments on “Porter gone, let the rants and raves begin

  1. The silver lining in this is Luhnow admitting he made a mistake and taking responsibility for the direction of the team. Puts him squarely on the hot seat. I was never a fan of Porter and thought him a very ill advised choice for a team that was about player development and not immediate wins. His football style approach to motivation would not work with a team short on experience and talent. Being “up” for the games in baseball is not possible over a 162 game season. There was no way I could picture Porter being the manager of our 2017 World Series team. I do find it interesting that Tony D was not tabbed to finish out the season.

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    • I think they didn’t want to name Tony D interim for a 2nd time and not hire him permanently. Also, they may want to respect his recovery from cancer.

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    • drbill, rather than the hot seat, I think it solidifies his power. It’s clear that Crane buys into the Luhnow Plan. And, agreed on the fact Tony D was not the interim. Just wonder if that was “window dressing” during the hunt and they didn’t want to go down that speculation trail again.

      Then, again, it could be that Tony D himself did not want to go down that trail and told them so.

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    • Maybe Tony D has had enough of the Astros, too.
      He’s either ready to retire because of his health, or
      He didn’t get asked to run the team, or
      He got asked and turned it down.
      Why is Tom Lawless described as CC’s manager. That is Keith Bodie’s job.
      Tom Lawless is the roving infield instructor for the org. Naming that guy in that position, to interim manager is some kind of weird. I’m getting flashbacks to the puppet scene in The Sound of Music. It’s all just like a freaky scene. Jeff Luhnow is suddenly like Julie Andrews, Puppetmaster nun. Only, this Puppet- master’s children don’t like him.
      Becky, we were right all along. There is something really rotten going on in this organization.
      Bo, a dear, a big dead dear.
      Jeff, a big old Dodge Ram Truck.
      Me, a fan who calls it all.
      Far, a long, long way to win.
      SO another word for K.
      LA, kicking Oakland’s butt.
      Tee, what Jon needs to hit.
      Which leads us back to:
      DO
      Not
      work
      for
      Jeff.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oldpro, one other possibility on Tony: Since he was a finalist a year ago, is he a possibility for the long-term job and the Astros either didn’t want to tip their hand or muddy the waters with other candidates?

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      • Folks in a town where the spacecraft float heard “Luh-now-laid an-egg, laid an egg -pee-you!”
        Baseball’s a business where your name becomes a by-word, any time you jump the shark and step in poo”

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  2. There is no point in arguing, ranting or raving. It’s a done deal. Ranting and raving not only will not change anything, it will not even make anyone feel better. It is time to move on. Since the FO team is what it is – and is apparently going to stay what it is for the foreseeable future – the question before us is simply “who will make up the on-field management team for the next phase of our team’s rebuild”. Good luck to Bo and Dave in the future. Tom and Adam, let’s focus on the on-field product, not the politics and power games.

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    • Bill, I was singing.
      Yesterday I might have ranted just a tad.
      Move along, non story, nothing to see here.
      For goodness sakes, where is that medical examiner?

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      • OP1, I feel a song coming on!
        “Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be managers.
        Don’t let ’em make line-ups and set up match-ups;
        Make ’em read stat sheets and sit on their butts.
        No mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be managers.
        ’cause they’ll shoot off their mouth and their career will go south,
        and when their down they’ll get kicked in their – – – – McPherson struts?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You know me – I think in bullet pointed thoughts:
    – Timing – Labor Day – this is like something the pols in DC do – put out big news on a Sunday or a holiday when the main commentators may be off and when the fans are off grilling the hot dogs.
    – Timing – With a month to go – Obvious signal that they don’t like their direction questioned in the press and also points to them not thinking the manager matters much in how the team finishes.
    – The Team – Did the team secretly not like Bo and will kick butt down the stretch or did they like him and will tank for the new manager. Well Lawless has been coaching a bunch of newbies and will continue with the big club.
    – It does make you question why they took Porter in the first place. He has been out there in the press with his opinions from the very start – it is unlikely that he was a quiet demure guy when they interviewed him. Did they not make it clear that they expected someone who would toe the line?
    – Long term replacement – This will be a fascinating hire in that it will show what the management team is really thinking. My bet is they go young – they want someone who is techy enough to buy into what they are doing and they don’t need someone who has their own opinion on when and where to play guys. I can’t see any experienced manager wanting to manage in this experimental lab (please watch Money Ball and how they neutered Art Howe – I don’t believe that Art was as portrayed in that movie,but you get the idea).
    Porter getting fired was not the surprise – when it happened is.

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  4. Interesting. I had thought that Porter would last the season. Evidently, he really ticked Luhnow off and thus, he is outahere!

    Surprised that Trembly is out the door with Porter. Here is to hoping that Luhnow hires an experienced manager now.

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  5. Not surprised at the firing but at the timing. I was not a big fan of Porter but I believe that the timing was nothing more than Porter’s questioning of Crane and Lohnow’s handling of the team. Considering I’ve been sent packing several times in my career it was always because I disagreed with management, among other non important issues. This is probably a classic take on winning the battles but losing the war. I don’t think it speaks well of the ownership and executive management at this time but we shall see. I like others would like to see a marriage of baseball people with some business acumen running this team. Currently, we have a bunch of numbers guys who I’m not sure know what they are doing. But in the end it’s their team and I don’t believe they will be asking for my opinion.

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  6. I am shocked he was fired now. I thought they would let him finish the season, but it is clear this ship is either sinking or sailing with Jeff Luhnow. I was listening to MLB Network Radio shortly after it was announced and they felt this is Luhnow’s last chance. Rarely does a GM get 3 chances with a manager.

    Also, I am thinking the same as Chip as to why Tony D. was not offered the interim. I think (hope might be a better word) that he will get serious consideration. I have much respect for Tony D, but for his sake, I would want him to be sure he is in full remission if he is the manager. This is a taxing job.

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  7. As for timing, with the day off it allows the interim mgr a chance to drive to town, take a breath, and meet the team before having to fill out a lineup.

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    • Devin – I’m guessing he does not have to worry about filling out a lineup – they are all preprinted fir him.
      Old pro – loved the Do-re-mi reference. I totally missed out on Lawless’ actual job.
      I’m not sure this is Luhnow’s last stand but the owner isn’t firing himself so his seat has to be at least Luke warm.

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  8. Thank goodness.

    Look, Porter is a competitive guy, but I have LONG said he needs to go. He makes basic mistakes in game. He abuses our already questionable bullpen, and his lineups are such head-scratchers it’s a wonder we all don’t have bald spots.

    I’m sure people will say, “This is what happens when you question Luhnow publicly.” But maybe the news last week came from Porter seeing the writing on the wall.

    And if Luhnow is at odds with Porter, then I have more respect for Luhnow now.

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    • As much as I respected Biggio as a player, it would be karmic if he gets hired as manager and has to deal with a lot of crap, since he did get the best manager the club has ever had fired.

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  9. As for as early candidates for the permanent managers spot, I don’t think that they will even consider Biggio. I’ve never seen Biggio as a meek keep your mouth shut type (remember his days as a player and the exit of Dircker), and if Luhnow thinks firing Porter creates public relations ripples, try doing that with the Astros icon that may be the most popular player in its’ history. The next firing will be Luhnow. Surely his computer analysis and his geek brotherhood can give him a hint on this.

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    • Billy, not sure I agree. If Crane and Luhnow had already determined that the course could not be corrected or they had already made the call to pull the trigger on Porter’s future, why wait? Seems a little evident even that Porter knew he was a lame duck manager and it also seems evident that Porter was beginning to play out his opinions in public.

      What he was saying behind the scenes and to players — not to mention his demeanor, etc — might have been as evident as well.

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    • Well Chip, I was wrong about at least one guy. Do you think Feldman will see some veteran position players added to the club this winter, as he4 suggests, or is he really hoping his candidness gets him traded during the off season?

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      • Dave, I really don’t se any problem with Feldman’s statements. Luhnow brought him in to be a leader, named him the ace of the staff, gave him the opening day start, much to my disappointment.
        But if Feldman is going to be what Luhnow wanted then Feldman needs to take that role and I think he did this morning. He gave his opinion that the club needed to get some veteran position players to improve the club and I don’t think anybody can argue that fact if they look at the entire year production of several positions we have suffered with this season. Our box scores have been full of players under .220 or .200 all year. Who cannot see that has to change for this team to keep improving?
        Finally, Feldman spoke well of Porter at the funeral this morning, which was more than what others said about Porter, during his public execution this morning.

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  10. Early candidates? How about any candidates? Who might want this job? Biggio wouldn’t want the job anymore than Ausmus did. I’ve never been a supporter of Bo Porter, but I’ve come to have far less respect for the job our GM has done, and yes, partly because of HOW he’s done his job.

    This has been a highly entertaining season for our organization, but for all the wrong reasons. The Sound Of Music does not come to mind. But nice ditty oldpro. I’m thinking more like The Exorcist. I wonder how many guys Luhnow went through before he got a taker in the roving minor league infield instructor?

    So can anymore fun be packed into the last month of the season? How long do we have to wait before Bud Norris or Jarred Cosart chime in on todays news? Obviously, we won’t get any quotable quotes from the 25 guys in the clubhouse.

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    • There are only 30 jobs of these available (well, not available at the same time, but at some time). The Astros will not have any trouble finding a replacement for Bo Porter.

      Oh, by the way, Bopert and I have had our frank discussions before. We are polar opposites, but he has never gone wacko on me and gotten angry because I disagreed with his opinion. Just saying…

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      • No doubt, there will always be guys like Tom Lawless around to take a managerial job, even if it’s temporary. We’ll have to wait and see what we end up for the long haul though.

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  11. Here’s the thing that gets me. I don’t think Porter was the right guy for the job; although he did a better job this year, his decision making was not great , and he didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. So, his firing itself doesn’t bother me. What DOES bother me is a bit deeper beyond the surface. From Porter’s recent comments, one can infer that Luhnow was meddling in things that are supposed to be the manager’s job, not the GM. I have a real bad feeling that whomever the new manager is, is not going to really matter. Why? Because the line-ups are basically going to be dictated by Luhnow, or rather, his computer. Whomever the new manager is will basically be a puppet. I’m not afraid of what happens if the team is successful, but rather if this IS a successful way of running things. Then, what if other team’s copy it? Eventually, the field manager will only be a glorified coach with no decision making of his own, with computers basically running a baseball team. The game I love has changed greatly over the past 20+ years of me being a fan, and not necessarily for the better. I miss the AL and NL having actual differences rather than just DH/No DH. with league presidents and such, with no inter-league play. Now, the two leagues are basically conferences like any other sport. Instant replay. Data taking preference over human interaction. And if this comes to fruition? I made several Office Space jokes which were funny at the time but now in the light of recent developments, just seem sad. Maybe Terminator would’ve been a better analogy, with the ‘machines’ (in this case, Ground Control) running things. Congratulations, Luhnow, you’ve just unleashed Skynet.

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    • But Billy, you’re building your entire premise on the the belief that Porter’s “recent comments” are true. Anyone that manages people knows that the boss has to become involved from time to time, especially when the actions and efforts of the employee don’t line up with the company guidelines and protocol. Everyone on this blog — and many others — questioned many of Porter’s lineups, in-game moves and other actions, so it’s only reasonable to expect that Luhnow’s disagreements far surpassed our own.

      Simply put, it’s likely that Porter — and maybe even Trembley — weren’t lining up with The Plan.

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      • The article that was posted in the comment section here on Friday is where I’m basing this on, actually. The funny part is, it was an article *praising* Luhnow, but there were several things on it that raised a lot of red flags for me. Again, I’m not really against Porter being let go, as I don’t think he was a good manager at all, but what’s going to happen going forward. I’m going to go back and find the link if I can, but it scared the beejeezus out of me.

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      • Found it.

        http://mobile.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-28/extreme-moneyball-houston-astros-jeff-luhnow-lets-data-reign

        The way it explained how/why players are called up made me shudder, and would certainly explain why we keep bringing up the same proven failures (i.e. Paul Clemens), because the damn computer tells him to (ooh, his tab is green, call him up!) rather than take a chance on somebody different. Definition of insanity.

        To quote: ‘Some players have green tabs next to their names. This is a signal, generated by an algorithm, that the player is ready to be promoted. It’s also evidence that the algorithm-driven decision-making Beane predicted has already arrived. (A gray tab indicates that a player should be demoted, black that he should be cut.) “I look at this all the time,” says Luhnow. He clicks on José Veras, a reliever in Triple-A. Veras has a green tab. “The tool says his skill percentile is 97. He’s produced so far at 75 percent, so he’s producing in the top quarter of the league. His pressure to promote is extreme.” The next day, Veras is called up to the majors. ‘

        IMHO ,all the data in the world is meaningless unless you dig a bit deeper. Statistics only tell one side of the story. It’s the reasoning *behind* the statistics that are key.
        Oddly enough, right after that, I linked the article stating Porter and Luhnow were at odds!

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    • What fun would that be? -:)

      I won’t lie…I enjoy giving my opinion and have strong, spirited discussions with those that disagree with me (or agree with me), but I will never take it personally as long as others don’t as well. We all have our opinions and we are entitled to express them just, as Dan said above, we don’t resort to name calling (by the way, before someone says I called Dave a wacko, I didn’t. I just said he went wacko on me by getting angry over my comments.)

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      • Just for the record, I think the Cosart deal was a TERRIBLE trade.

        Cosart is a front of the rotation SP and is still super cheap. Marisnick is meh, with a long looping swing. Sure he can roam the OF pretty well, but he’s never going to be a potent offensive weapon. Colin Moran, a lefty third baseman is a super cheap, plus-yet-unproven prospect. Sound familiar anyone?

        Cosart will come back to haunt. In fact, he’s already shown that he can throw strikes regularly. And the Lastros will be stocked a-plenty with mediocrity as he soars to excellence.

        Next year will be the year when the koolaid drinkers finally realize this franchise, and its lame ownership, suck$ azz. They’ll be on TV, they’ll have a new manager, and a slightly higher payroll, But the inept leadership will still be place, and the fanbase in shambles.

        (Oh, but McHugh and Keuchel will prove out to be okay, maybe even average!)

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      • Uh, Bopert, Keuchel and McHugh are pitching ABOVE average already. I don’t trust Cosart’s BB/K numbers with the Marlins simply because he’s NEVER shown that before, in the majors OR minors. He could simply be hot right now, but no reason to suspect he’ll be able to sustain those numbers.

        Marisnick will be a 4th or 5th OF. Every team needs one of those. Nothing more.

        Moran was the key to this trade, and you gotta remember..he was HIGHLY touted, and the main reason why Marlin fans have kvetched. Heck, many of us here on this very blog wanted us to draft him last year! He’s already doing well at AA, and may be ready by the break next year, if not sooner. And, he’d be replacing Dominguez.

        I’m certainly no Kool-Aid drinker (read my other posts) and despise Luhnow with the fury of an angry sun, but can’t let opinions blind in the way of facts.

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      • Read carefully, I predict McHugh and Keuchel will falter next year. I think the league will catch up to McHugh during his sophomore campaign, and that Keuchel has already reached his ceiling. I simply am not impressed with their stuff, nor their upside. I think their “success” is an anomaly.

        Now, Mr. Cosart, on the other hand, HE has upside.

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      • PS — I agree with you on two fronts:

        One: Moran is the difference-maker in the trade. He is definitely a kid to watch, and has a sweet lefty swing with power. That’s valuable — on paper. But, he’s only a prospect, no?

        Two: I definitely agree that Cosart has to throw tons of strikes to be successful. And I think he’s already figuring it out. I’ve watched him pitch two games lately, and his breaking ball is tighter and not floating up in the zone, like the Cosart of old. That’s huge for him. Now he’s got three plus pitches, better coaching and the Lastros have hell to pay!

        Attitude or not, Dude’s on his way… and thus the trade was a bad deal even if Moran pans out, in my opinion.

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      • Bo, I can see where you’re coming from, but if I may…

        Cosart’s numbers have no historical precedence for him. He’s never had a stretch like this as far as his control goes in the minors or in the majors. Keuchel and McHugh are pitching like they did in the minors, and helps that they’ve had an excellent pitching coach in Strom. Why would you think it would be a fluke for them and not for Cosart, when they’re pitching closer to how they should according to historical data. Never mind the fact that they are 26 and 27, respectively, so are at their prime. Why would you think that they would be a fluke when they’ve sustained this level a lot longer than Cosart, who may simply just be on a hot stretch. Look at the pitch counts since he’s been with the Marlins, and his WHIP. Does that match ANYTHING he’s done in the minors or the majors? Did he suddenly decide to become a pitch to contact pitcher? Nope…his pitch counts are still just as high. It’s a hot streak.

        Take your anti-Astros bias out of the equation and honestly ask yourself this… would you feel Cosart has more upside if he was just traded to the Astros, and Keuchel and McHugh were on another team? Be completely honest with yourself if you can and seriously look at the facts. I do think Cosart will be around for a while, and he’s still young, but there’s no basis in what you are saying.

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      • Fair question, Billy. I look at the stuff, then trends, then numbers, and project from there.

        I could be wrong about Keuchel. For the life of me, I can’t compute his strikeout numbers. Admittedly, I don’t watch that often (wonder why?), but when I do, I just don’t see the stuff. He reminds me a lot of Tom Browning, a soft tossing lefty that could hit that low-outside corner against righties at will.

        But one difference: Browning has a plus-plus changeup. Keuchel has no plus pitches AT ALL.

        Points duly noted, predictions made. Now we’ll see what happens in 2015.

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      • I am going to agree with Videoigit (is that you Bopert?) about Cosart. I have been able to watch him on TV now that he’s not an Astro and subject to MLB blackout. Looks like the slight mechanical adjustment suggested by the Miami pitching coach has helped and he shows a lot more confidence resulting in pounding the strike zone. Miami pitch sequence fits his style better. He is not pitching backwards. While I think the Astros pitching strategy is great for finesse guys like Keuchel/McHugh, I think they tried to use a one size fits all approach that was not compatible with Cosart’s stuff. Keuchel and McHughs future success will depend a lot on umpire strike zones. If it is tightened up next year due to lack of hitting, I think their success will be greatly diminished since their success depends a lot on living on the edges.

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  12. Just for the record, since you seem to want to drag yesterdays issue out, I have no problem in discussing with you or anyone else any issue that might come up.

    I do have a problem with you, in a response to another individual, using my name and suggesting that you knew what I was considering or not considering, when you had absolutely no idea.

    It’s that simple.

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    • Please go back and read your comments about Marisnick. You called him a 5th OFer and provided his batting average and OPS as reasons for this. I used Ozzie Smith as an example of how you have to take defense into consideration when evaluating a player. It is safe to say that Ozzie would not have gotten into the HOF by his offensive numbers alone. While they weren’t bad they were not HOF worthy. Not once in all our discussion did you mention Marisnick’s superior defense when evaluating him. I gave 2 examples of players with OPS lower than .665 that had lengthy and decent ML careers.

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      • Need to point this out, and it’s a sad state of our game in general….if Ozzie Smith was a player coming up now, he’d be nothing more than a backup. He may not have ever gotten a shot to start, as a modern GM would’ve looked at his offensive stats and just be like ‘uh-uh’, without ever seeing him play. I’m not saying it’s right (quite the opposite, really), but that’s what happens when people running teams base everything on spreadsheets. Obviously, WE know that Ozzie was a once-in-a-lifetime player, but these clowns would’ve been like, ‘oh, his numbers are poor when facing a left handed pitcher born on a Tuesday when playing on a natural grass field and the humidity is slightly lower than normal’ and would’ve passed on him.

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      • Billy,

        You might be right on that assessment. Also, Ozzie, when he played for the Padres, was a poor hitter as well. He started to become a better hitter after he got traded to the Cardinals. I didn’t look at Ozzie’s minor league numbers, but I am guessing he wasn’t a strong offensive player there as well.

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  13. As I was driving around doing some errands I got to listen to some of Luhnow’s recent press conference. Missed the beginning and end of it. A couple things I picked up:
    1) Luhnow straight out said that setting the lineups and making pitching changes, etc. is the manager’s job and that he does not tell him what to do. He said he trusts the people he hires to do a good job. He did say he would talk with the manager about specific decisions that are made. Since I was listening to this on the radio and not watching on TV – I can not comment on any change in Mr. Luhnow’s nose length.
    2) There was definite tension at one point on a question I could not hear – but was made by Evan Drellich of the chron – as Luhnow gave him a pointed non-answer using Evan’s name.

    When I got back in the car – they were talking with Matt Thomas who was at the press conference and who has a fairly good insider’s view of things as I believe he did or does a post game show on 790 AM.

    He basically said he liked Bo Porter a lot as a person and as a motivator. However, he said he thought that Porter made a ton of mistakes on managerial decisions on the lineup and the bullpen. He said – yes it is true that the players were not the best – better this year than last year – but still questioned the fact that he was still making bad decisions often.

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  14. Again, you’re assuming that I was not considering the guys defensive abilities because I made no mention of them. You were wrong. And using my name to get a point across to another individual, telling him what you thought I was thinking, was wrong.

    But to take the high road here and fully clarity things for you, I think most folks can see that Marisnick plays a very good outfield. And quite a few of us have been aware of his minor league defensive stats, even before you shared them with us.

    My point remains this, and you’ll find it clearly noted in yesterdays comments if you care to look back. Marisnick can play stunning defense, but if all he can produce is a .665 OPS, he won’t keep the job for long. In fact, if he continues at his present .625 OPS, he’ll soon be in whatever city this organization finds to put the AAA team in 2015. Luhnow will not give an outfield job to a defensive specialist.

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    • Looking at Marisnick’s minor league stats, his OBP itself is mediocre; his SLG is a bit better. The thing is, the fact that it is his OBP hurting his OPS (all these damn acronyms!) is what’s going to hurt him here in a statistic-driven organization. He’ll last for a while as a 4th or 5th OF, and quite frankly should, but I don’t see him as a long-term starter. Not here, anyway, for reasons that should be quite clear. But, there’s always value in a defensive replacement OF, and he’ll likely fill Presley’s role next year.

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      • Marisnick is a far superior defensive OFer than Presley, but only if he is playing CF. Moran was probably the key in the trade, but Luhnow obviously likes Marisnick as he brought him up to the major league team right away. If the Astros have Fowler, Marisnick and Springer in the OF next year they will have a very nice OF.

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      • Marisnick had a career OBP in the minors of .347. Although that is not great, it is not terrible either. He doesn’t appear to have much plate discipline as he had a career minor league BA of .279. Most guys who are adept at drawing BBs usually have an OBP about .80 or higher than there BA.

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      • Don’t forget Robbie Grossman. I personally don’t think he’s anything more than a AAAA player, but Luhnow seems to value him. He’s had a .350 OBP since the all-star break, and was a good OBP guy in the minors, so I’d expect him to be starting next year, at least early on. Also, Santana is waiting in the wings as well, providing he can do something at the major league level aside from serving as a human fan in order to cool off the umpire and the opposing team’s catcher.

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      • Billy, about Grossman, look at his year stats not his recent stats. It can really get you in trouble if you ignore the horrible half and just see the good half. Especially if he has done the same thing two years in a row. He is very inaccurate with his arm in the outfield and is statistically rated below replacement defensively, negative WAR defensively and below league avg in Range factors.
        Last year he was real bad for three months, got sent down came back up and had an amazing August, and then got hurt. This year he has done the same thing but the guy is hitting .210 for the year and is below average defensively.
        Those kind of stats make me pray for the continued success of someone like Aplin or Marisnick, both of whom I don’t have to worry about their arms or their gloves or their range, just if they can hit major league pitching in the long term.

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      • Oh yeah, OP, I agree with you about Grossman. I was using his second half stats for Luhnow’s justification, not my own! I do feel that usually second half stats are a good indicator of how they’ll start the next season, unless that player has a history of only playing well in half of a season. Even with the good 2nd half OBP, his slugging % is such that his OPS is still weak. Even his ‘good 2nd half’ honestly is not that great. But, see, guys like us (and especially Steven) take the numbers and dig deeper, which a computer can’t really do. Data is data, but without reasoning, will never become facts.

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    • Dave, I am not a mind reader so if you don’t mention his defensive capabilities and refer to him as a 5th OFer while providing offensive statistics only then I have to assume you are not considering his defensive prowess. Omar Moreno and Otis Nixon are 2 Ofers who had decent careers, started for the majority of their careers and both had a career OPS lower than .665. I am sure I can find others as well. I think he will eventually have an OPS above .665, but even if it is around there his defensive abilities could keep him as a starter somewhere. He is very, very good as a defensive OFer.

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      • Marisnick also had a career minor league OPS of .790. He may not reach that level in the majors, but if he is above .700 with his great defense he will be a starter somewhere.

        Like

      • But both were long long retired before the advent of Moneyball. The game has changed. Both guys were low avg/slg/OBP guys that played great defense, and were also high SB guys, which is was something that was highly valued back then. Personally, I miss guys getting high SB numbers (I mean, the Astros and the Cardinals were my two favorite teams for a REASON), but again, the game has changed. Neither would last in the majors as a starter these days. Backup, yes, but not as a starter.

        That just made me sad.

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  15. They may not have been starters, but they played before the steroids era, which I think has tainted our opinion of decent offensive numbers. CF is not typically looked at as a power position so I think Marisnick can survive as a starter with an OPS near .700.

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    • After the advent of testing, stats are returning to normal (Thank God) in comparison to the height of the steroid era. Wouldn’t say everybody’s clean as there are ways to cheat the tests, but then again, historical reports have shown that PEDs were a concern as early on as the early 70s, so who knows. Looking at the performance of the CFs in the majors by teams, the average OBPS at the CF position is .717, as of 29 Aug 2014. That’s the average of every player at CF in the majors this year. So, anything below .700 is below average. More to the point. some of those numbers are skewed…the bottom performing team at CF has been Boston, with a beyond abysmal .569. In the interest of full disclosure, the top performing CF OPS team has been Anaheim, with a .918. So, taking those two outliers out, the average OBP is still .715, which means he’d still be below average. This is what I meant earlier when I said stats are meaningless unless you look deeper. It’s all about the context.

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    • Those are interesting numbers, Billy, and I would agree that .700 OPS is below average for a CFer, but if .717 is the average then several teams have a CF near or below .700, but how many of them are as good defensively as Marisnick? That is my point about Marisnick…he can be slightly below average offensively because he is so above average defensively.

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      • That is a very good question. I admit I’m not too knowledgeable about defensive stats aside from errors, so I’m not sure where he ranks defensively, or what his WAR is. Or, more importantly, how his defense ranks in comparison to our other CF candidates.

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      • I know…just not as familiar with those stats. Took me a long time to get caught up with the current way of looking at offensive stats! I’m 36 but sometimes feel more like 76…and this is one of those times!

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    • Well, oldpro, using past statistics to predict future performance is integral in evaluating a player. Everybody in baseball does it. Do you have a better suggestion? This coming from the guy who uses wins by a pitcher as a measure of his current success. Keep in mind I don’t think you will find any GM, baseball writer, etc. that considers wins by a pitcher a valid measure of his success.

      I think this might be a nice topic to discuss in our next blog. Chip, Dan or Brian, what do you think?

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  16. I have had a chance to study and ponder your column on “Reputability and integrity” and whether Porter or Luhnow goes. I am willing to go way out on a limb and say that Porter will be the one to go. Also, tomorrow, I will be predicting the weather for Labor Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With your insight, have you ever thought about being a major league GM. Your crystal ball is amazing! Chicks dig ponderers, especially if they can ponder while pretending to listen.

      Like

  17. Jarred Cosart’s new bosses like his fire, how refreshing!

    “At Houston, he had good stuff and just wasn’t really sure how to use it,” Mike Redmond said after Saturday’s win.

    Cosart has repeatedly credited pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, who he had worked with a few years ago in the Phillies organization, for getting him refocused and simplifying his approach.

    What Redmond likes best is the bulldog mentality that Cosart has displayed with playoff possibilities on the line.

    “Some guys really need that adrenaline and they really thrive in those situations. I think for him going from Houston to our team, a team that’s young and headed in the right direction and we’re fighting for a playoff spot, that energizes guys,” Redmond said. “Those are the kind of guys a manager wants on the ballclub.”

    As for the repertoire Cosart has displayed so effectively, Redmond said, “He’s able to get some movement on that fastball and that keeps guys from squaring him up. He’s got a nice curveball. He’s been able to mix it up, and his changeup will continue to be a weapon against lefties. All those pitches will continue to get better as he logs more and more innings.”

    As for Cosart’s feelings about the unexpected career move, he said, “I’d like to be a Marlin for the rest of my career, if that’s in the cards. I know it’s a business. So, that’s no disrespect to the Astros, but hopefully one day I can make them get the bad end of that trade.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • What did you expect the Marlins to say? Man, we really blew it letting go of Moran, Marisnick and a supplemental pick while getting this guy with a chip on his shoulder, a utility player and a career minor leaguer who is almost 26 years old.

      Like

  18. Ha Bopert, “next year will be the year”? You’ve been saying “this year” and when “this year” was “last year” and “last year” was 2011. Sooner or later, you’re going to run out of years!

    Get back to me in 2-5 years when you can more accurately assess the Cosart trade, not postulate to support your own opinion. When Moran moves into third base this time next year — not a prediction, just a possibility — or the Astros draft another Derek Fisher with that mid-30s pick you conveniently left off the trade assessment, it could be a different story.

    Tim, thanks for the suggestion, but that’s been debating until it’s done. Over done. Along with all the zingers.

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    • Yes, it is working out well for the Marlins after 1 month. I want to see if Cosart maintains this. As Billy so astutely pointed out above, he has never had a sustained streak like this throughout his minor or major league career. I am not saying it can’t happen, but the odds of him figuring it out long-term against major league hitters is unlikely.

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  19. OP, unfortunately, I am typing off my work laptop that only has IE7 and firewalls preventing me from upgrading. I am unable to reply to a reply. I am hoping to get an IPad for my birthday in 2 weeks if the wife thinks I deserve it. Hopefully, this will put an end to the problem.

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  20. Some more thoughts:
    – For some reason the Porter firing isn’t a strong enough topic to keep everyone’s attention for a full blog.
    – For some reason we are trying to decide about Jake Marisnick’s H of F candidacy based on a few games in the majors. The kid has a great glove and if his bat comes around he will be a starter somewhere and if it doesn’t he will be a backup.
    – For some reason – Jarred Cosart is a heck of a better pitcher after 33 innings than he has ever been. I am betting if we look at Scott Feldmans first 33 innings this season that he was a heck of a lot better than ever before or since.

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  21. Cosart was also successful in prevent runs in 10 starts last season. May not have been pretty how he got there, but he did. Had 2 bad games this year with Houston that blew up his ERA. So that’s almost a full season of success. But apparently we can’t measure success by what are they doing now, but by what may they do in the future based on our statistical. With regard to Cosart’s minor league statistics, I don’t read so much into it. They were having him work extensively on mechanics almost the whole time based on interviews I read which had negative consequences on his fastball control he thought.

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    • Maybe, just maybe, the prevention of runs might have something to do with defensive shifts the Astros employ. You can discount his minor league numbers all you want, but his BB/9 and K/9 don’t equate to a serious, top of the rotation starter. He may become one, but his stats don’t show it. Let’s give it a few years and see what happens.

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  22. Sorry for all the typos. Hope it is decipherable. Fingers too big for little keypad. Also, I watched a lot of Cosart’s games. He seems to get those ground ball double plays to get out of trouble far too often to attribute to “luck”. I think he is a pitcher that doesn’t fit the statistical algorithms used to predict future performance.

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  23. One thing we don’t know via the sabremetrics route is the “gut feeling”. Things like I’m going to leave “fill in blank” to hit instead of pinch hitting or leaving a pitcher in instead of the reliever or vice versa. How many times have the numbers told you to do something when in actuality your gut decision was the better or might have been the better. If this is the case we just need a couple of IPADS in the dugout to tell the “manager” what to do. Maybe we should get Max Headroom to manage the ‘Stros next year.

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  24. I am willing to end the discussion on the Cosart trade. Let’s just give it 3-5 years and re-evaluate, if we are still breathing, at that time. Some prefer to use the eyeball test to determine how good a pitcher can be and I prefer to use advanced metrics. Both are used today so let’s give it time to see what happens. If I am wrong I will gladly admit it.

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    • Personally, I feel that only a combination of both can paint the true picture. But yeah agreed that only time will tell who won the trade, or if in fact both teams won, which IHMO is the ideal solution (unless trading with a division rival!)

      Like

  25. Back to Porter…as the dust settles, where do you guys think he would rank among all-time Astros managers?

    In my time of watching….

    1)Dierker
    2)Howe

    Gap

    3) Garner
    4) Collins

    Big Gap

    5)Cooper
    6) Porter
    7)Brad Mills
    8) Jimy Williams

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    • That probably is not too bad a ranking. Williams might be a little higher, but there probably is not a lot of difference from the top to bottom of each of your divisions.

      Like

      • Had to put Williams that low because of his record with his other teams, and how we immediately went on a streak as soon as we fired him, with the exact same players.

        Two things popped into my head whilst compiling this list:

        1)We’ve had a lot of mediocre to poor managers, and there’s a reason only two on this list managed again after they left here

        and

        2)Art Howe got a raw deal here as well.

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    • I might put Porter above Garner. Scrap Iron gets extra credit for taking them to the WS, but I can’t recall being more frustrated by a manager’s strategical decisions in my life. Add in the AS game fiasco and then factor in the extreme talent inequity between their clubs and I currently feel like Garner might have lost more games these two years. That might have been more in line with our GM’s blueprint, though.

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      • Might agree, not sure. Kind of hard to tell, because Garner looks better because Williams was SO bad, and there was immediate improvement when he took over. Thing with Garner, though, at the end of every single tenure he had, the team was playing moribund, lifeless baseball. I don’t think that’d have been the case with Porter.

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    • Bill Virdon would have to be the second best manager. Harry Walker and Leo Durocher started the franchise toward the quest of finishing above .500 and Hal Lanier brought passion to the team.
      Then I would follow with Garner et. al.

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  26. I would probably move Jimy Williams ahead of Porter and Mills, but they were all below average. Garner had his flaws, but he is the only manager to ever win a playoff series with the Astros, and he won 3, I would Dierker #1 as I am a big fan of his, but might move Garner ahead of Howe. It appears you were too young for Hal Lanier, but he might be ahead of Howe and, maybe, Garner. That 1986 team was one of my favorite teams. The Mets were extremely talented that year and, if not for a late rally in game 6 the Astros might have won the series.

    Like

    • 1991 was when I started following the team on more than a casual level. I may have been 13, but because everybody at school was making fun of me for being an Astros fan, I became a major stat-head* and would always use statistics and reasoning to explain why the Astros would be a playoff team every year within 5 years. Well, that CERTAINLY didn’t stop the bullying, but it helped develop an obsession that has continued to this day. Before, I certainly went to games, but just watched it for enjoyment. So yeah, I was at the games back when Lanier was the manager (and yes, I still remember the scoreboard after a homer!), but didn’t know if he was a good manager or what, or how to tell.

      *- yes, I understand the huge irony of me being so critical of Luhnow, when I was the same way long before it was trendy to be so, but keep in mind my credo of statistics being a tool to assist with strategy, not the entire basis of such. That’s what made Dierker such an awesome manager, because he too was a sabre guy before it was a thing (and likely helped him be so successful), but also knew just when to go with his gut.

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  27. One of my favorite thing about Dierker was allowing SPs to stay in the game to resolve their own mess. He didn’t get too wrapped up in IPs and pitch counts. He felt the obsession with pitch counts to limit arm injuries was over-blown and I tend to agree with him. Nolan Ryan pitched until he was 46 and it was his legs that finally caused him to retire. He pitched more innings in a season that some pitchers today would take 2 seasons to pitch. I loved Dierker as a manager and love him on the occassion he will be on the air (and when he was a broadcaster before managing). His analysis of the game is unparalled to any broadcaster the Astros have ever had.

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  28. Not to get wrapped up in nostalgia but when I think about all those managers (except Porter) I think about the double switches, pinch hitters for the pitcher, pinch runners — God was the game more enjoyable. It certainly was for me. And I can remember Fred Gladding coming in and getting three outs with the OFers and their backs to the fence each time – banging his glove – as he accepted everyone’s congratulations.

    Like

  29. Interesting article by David Schoenfield at ESPN.com. His last paragraph really caught my eye…”Regardless, the Astros are on the verge of becoming a .500 team next year and maybe a playoff contender in 2016. This manager is the one they want to be there when they get back into the postseason.” I am glad to see others that follow the game see the bright future ahead for our local 10.

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  30. Larry Dierker has weighed in on Porter’s firing, and has an interesting comment… ‘“Between waiver claims and trades and demotions and call-ups, it seems like there’s a couple every week of the season and has been for years,” he said. “I’ve never seen anybody spin the roster like that, and it makes me think that unless you’re (Jose) Altuve, you have to feel uncomfortable, with bodies being talked this way and that like players on a chessboard.

    “It would make me nervous, but I know Luhnow has a plan, because that’s all he ever says. But it is hard to decipher what it may be from the outside looking in.”’

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  31. Does anybody know which players were referenced by the Chronicle in the following?

    ‘Clubhouse communication lacked at times. This weekend, Porter gave the media an update on an injured player on consecutive days, and the player said on consecutive days he did not know what Porter was talking about.

    Another player recently went to the disabled list, but was not immediately told of that move, and wasn’t happy about it.

    In spring training, when Porter said he had told his players of a planned lineup change heading into the season, two of the affected players said right afterward that no such conversation had taken place.’

    Like

    • If he was the last player to be on the DL, then he was the one who wasn’t told. That means the player in the first paragraph was either Springer or Presley.

      The last paragraph basically states a player called Porter out for lying.

      Yeah….I can see why he got fired.

      Like

    • Saw that Billy. Not real surprising though…think we’ll see more like this. Bo had his detractors. We only see a portion of relationships and behind-the-scenes stuff. We can’t always draw conclusions from the tip of the iceberg we see…

      Liked by 1 person

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