What would it take to fire Luhnow or Hinch?


Today’s news of the Red Sox firing their President of baseball operations (Jeff Luhnow equivalent) Dave Dombrowski was a bit of a shocker considering he put together the best team in the majors that won the World Championship less than 11 months ago. As the Red Sox have struggled to a winning season in 2019 that likely will not include a playoff run, there have been rumblings about both Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora being on the hot seat.

Now, the Red Sox under their current ownership group have been a quick trigger group. Despite winning 4 World Series in the 2000s (starting in 2004), they have brought in 4 managers since firing Grady Little after the inexcusable sin of leaving his ace in the game during the 2003 ALCS against the Yanks. Terry Francona managed from 2004 to 2011 and led the team to their first two World Series championships since the team sold off Babe Ruth a little after the War to end all Wars. Bobby “we hardly knew ye” Valentine came in for one disastrous season – 2012. John Farrell won another World Series in his time in Boston (2013 – 2017) as has Alex Cora (2018 – 2019). Perhaps the ownership impatience paid off as three of the four managers (Francona, Farrell and Cora) won the World Series in their very first season with the team. At the higher level, along with Dombrowski being fired less than 1 year after winning it all, he was the same man who replaced Ben Cherington in 2015, who had put together the 2013 champions.

So, the question for today is what would it take (other than an off the field scandal) for the Astros to fire and replace Jeff Luhnow and/or A.J. Hinch?

If Jim Crane had the patience and foresight to stick through the franchise nadir (2012-2013) with Jeff Luhnow it is hard to see that anything short of an unexpected collapse over multiple years would undermine his trust in the man. Luhnow has run the team exactly as agreed with his boss. He completed the teardown and cut the payroll to the bone just as agreed. He then built a fine minor league foundation for the team, grabbed some top players through the draft, through the waiver process, through a big investment in the international market and through trades and finally free agency.

Luhnow has fairly quickly worked out a relationship with his boss, where he has his support to spend money for the right reasons but has limited the long term investment in huge contracts. Along with this of course has been the gathering of complex and deep player data, and more importantly the application of the data for player improvement. The Astros are headed for their 5th winning record in a row, 4th playoff run in 5 seasons and 3rd 100 win season in a row. The team is not only very good, it looks sustainable. Behind the core they have signed for a number of years, there appears to be a pipeline of good minor league players to move to the majors or to move for major leaguers.

It would appear that if the team hits a speed bump of underperformance over a number of years that Luhnow may be safe and the finger pointed at A.J. Hinch. After all this is what happened earlier on when Luhnow hand-picked Bo Porter as manager and then sent him packing less than two seasons later.

However…..if Hinch continues to listen to the input the wonks send his way, continues to tightrope walk between being a player’s manager and a disciplinarian and continues to show a cerebral approach to the game there is a good chance he would survive a win drought of a few seasons. This is especially true if there are good reasons for it, such as age or injury.

It is a gut feeling that this owner will listen reasonably to his baseball people and not knee jerk between GM and manager pairings. This may or may not result in the short term success the Red Sox have enjoyed, but it certainly has resulted in more sustained success here than any other era in Astros’ history.

90 comments on “What would it take to fire Luhnow or Hinch?

  1. I can’t imagine Crane firing debatably the best GM and best manager in baseball today. It would be a far worse firing than when Jerry Jones in an act of jealousy and blunder the influence of alcohol fired Jimmy Johnson. As a lifelong cowboy fan, I was heartbroken and it doomed the cowboys to decades of mediocrity. I would be heartbroken if Crane fired these two exceptional people at what they do. Terrible events would have to occur before this would enter Cranes mind. As Luhnow and Hinch are really good and fit together for this Team, I am also a fan of this owner. He is supportive and allows the experts who work for him to excell. Until recently at least, Jones never gave that kind of support. If for some reason, the Sox fire Cora, I would like for him to come back to the Stros in some manner.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had concerns when Crane bought the team and brought Luhnow on board.
    Today I don’t believe there is a better managed team in all of baseball.
    Are they perfect? No, they are human and humans make mistakes. Up to this point they have managed to overcome the few blunders they have made and become stronger.
    Crane would have to have a Drayton McClain mentality to fire either one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • McClain turned me off from the start when he fired Art Howe and hired that hat jerky little guy (I forgot his name thankfully) and then fired Dierker. Much worse he seemed to be in bed with Selig with hurting the Astros. As fans, it took a while to accept losing our 50 year tenure with the NL. That’s what Selig wanted and McClain was complicit with it. We have accepted being in the AL and Crane is the reason why.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A moot subject. Unless Luhnow or Hinch physically hurt a player, this would never happen. This organization is the envy of MLB. If either one were to leave Houston there would be a line of clubs lining up to hire them. We are really lucky to have a GM like Jeff Luhnow to provide A.J. Hinch what he needs to take this club to the playoffs for years to come. A lot of us have not been fans of Jeff Luhnow. ….but I doubt that is even a “thing” anymore. Only knock against Hinch that I have is not bunting guys over….”small ball”. These guys absolutely LOVE Hinch and it shows. Not gonna happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t toot my own horn too often, but we sure got to Fiers. And Mr. Bill, we made him thrown a lot of pitches too. It’s rare to see a pretty good pitcher get bombarded like that. None of those dingers have been cheap shots. Now we need to have Grienke keep throwing strikes and getting outs. This is not a laugher yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan, the whole organization would have to experience a multi-level systematic failure for multiple seasons. You’d need a whole bunch of injuries. You need controversies at the minor league level. You’d need someone to go to jail. You’d need Hinch to lose his clubhouse. Such a solid foundation has been built. We can absorb the loss of Correa. We might have to absorb the loss of Cole. But it will get figured out.

    Back to the game. What a start. But I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with an 11 run lead in the 3rd. I must be paranoid.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Instead of giving me the football game down here, ESPN put on the Yankee-Sox game. I’ve never heard Fenway so quiet. It’s a tomb. But what a chase we’re in for home field!

    Like

  7. As to replacing Hinch or Luhnow, my thought is someone may attempt to buy them away from the Astros. I don’t know what type of contract each has, but that is always in play as a contract negotiation ploy.

    Like

    • 45, that thought has crossed my mind, but I don’t see a more dynamic situation for either Luhnow or Hinch. Unless Luhnow wants to take on another mess of an organization again for the challenge of it, I think both guys want to show that a club can be relevant year after year and not suffer the fate of a club like the Red Sox of 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. In my mind as long as Crane holds on to the team, I could see this being a long range commitment. I guess the other proviso ties to egos being in check, but it appears that these folks are very aligned and very savvy. There never is a hint from Luhnow or from Hinch that the other is not living up to expectations about anything.
    I could see this like a Bobby Cox / John Schuerholz situation in Atlanta where they worked together for 20 years.
    I know the Braves only won 1 World Series in that time, but they also had a different ownership situation as they were owned by Time Warner for a big chunk of that.
    I just think if you have guys who are good at what they do and aligned, that continuity is important.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I was looking at the attendance #’s for this year and it doesn’t look like we will hit 3MM(for the regular season) but we should get real close. No way anybody is going anywhere if those numbers keep up. Of course, if we had a turnaround in our win loss record it might be impacted but I don’t see that happening either. For tonight I hope Miley has got his “A” game back, and the hit parade continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Think Yuli will show up tonight? Man…..I hope Miley doesn’t lay another egg tonight. You can bet the A’s have watched his last start….over, and over.

    Like

  11. I really don’t foresee either Hinch or Luhnow – who are presiding over a pretty good little chunk of Astros franchise record-breaking – going anywhere any time soon. Once we clinch home field advantage this year, however, I think it would be fun if the office appointed Dan as honorary ‘Jeff Luhnow for a day’ and let 1OP serve as honorary ‘A.J. Hinch for a day’, and let Becky serve as honorary ‘bench coach for the day’. Motion made. Do I hear a second?

    Like

  12. Well……..so much for A.J. and going with a 4 man rotation. This can’t keep happening. Either Miley is afraid of his stuff, or like Sandy said he’S hiding an ingury. But one thing is crystal clear, this ain’t working right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I just wanted to see Miley have a clean first inning. Baseball sure is a screwy game. You’ve got to give the A’s some credit too. They are not going to mail it in. Tomorrow nights bullpen game is already screwed up. Manager Hinch does not anymore thrilled than the crowd does.

    Like

  14. I bullpen day in the rotation won’t kill ya but 2 will.
    They might hobble along and still win the division but they will be shot for the playoffs.

    Like

  15. I was going to say that the Astros picked the wrong days to score 15 and 21 runs, but now I’m not sure if that would be enough…..
    11-1 A’s in the third inning….

    Like

  16. We all knew this team needed an extra arm even after signing Greinke. Next year looks like Verlander, Greinke, McCullers?, Miley?? And????? Can’t automatically think McCullers will be back to form, and I guess we’ll find out by the end of September if Wade Miley will even factor in THIS post season. I’m getting another headache just thinking about the end of the month. *WOW*.

    Like

      • Valdez, and Miley will be on post season roster.

        Our system has pitching in spades. This blog is completely out of touch!

        The issue is injuries to Peacock McQ Sanchez; ineffective Biagini and Devo, and Hinch’s lack of Plan B when things start to go awry. What did he expect after Miley’s last bad showing? To have Sneed ready? Bad “Plan.”

        But it’s only one game. I never put too much stock in one game, or to have an extreme recency bias. Overall, we have Walked Away with the division, and sitting in Pole Position. I couldn’t ask for anything more, as it compares to what 29 other teams are dealing with.

        Tip your cap, go to drawing board on Miley’s next start, and think about Bielak, Javier, or here’s a novel idea — Bryan Abreu is a Starter. Maybe put a real Tandem together of 3 pitchers going 3 innings James Framber Urquidy?

        What caused the problems last night had to be predictability. And that is why Miley furiously looked at film to see if he was tipping pitches. Regardless, the A’s brought a fantastic game plan; it’s up to us to put some wrinkles in our transparency.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dan, i think he was referring to some of the comments, not your post or the blog itself, but the blog as in the people who comment. you do a great job with the blog in my opinion.

        Like

  17. If this Miley meltdown costs this club a chance of going to the World Series, there will be a lot of guys on this team, seriously pissed off. Not to mention all the fans who pay big bucks to sit in those seats. The brain trust of this club has some serious questions to answer……..QUICK.

    Like

  18. Nothing good ever comes out of scoring 21 or 22 runs or crushing a good team 15 zip. What goes around comes around. Miley might well have hit the wall. He’s stalled at 156 innings pitched. Literally. He’s still throwing 91 every now and then, but there is no movement. Maybe Miley goes on an unscheduled vacation. And maybe Framber gets at least one more start after all. Regardless, the A’s are surely looking forward to tomorrow night.

    On a more sober note, I’d hate to win 105 games and then not make it through the playoffs due to a pitching implosion. We are legitimately thin in that department. Right now, the Dodgers and Yankees both have a more solid pen than we do. If Greinke comes through, we’ve still got the best three starters, but they will need six or seven reliable guys to back them up.

    Like

      • Well I stayed to the bitter end. You missed a head scratcher with 1 out in the 9th. Jake tried for a double. Was called out by the umpire. Looked safe. The umpires called for a review with the Astros down 2 touchdowns and a field goal. Then it took 4-5 minutes for New York to say he was out. Had they overturned the call, it would have made sense. But to look, and look, and look, and look for something that was obviously not there made the replay officials seem petty to me. Even TK and Blummer were laughing at the replay guys.

        Like

  19. And alas, the Yankees suffered an ugly 12-11 loss after jumping out to a 6-0 lead against the lowly Tigers. So other than our legitimate concern for Miley, our 21-7 debacle just gets filed away.

    Like

  20. On any given night . . . with a baseball that is or is not juiced.

    What is interesting to me is that, if our bullpen had held the line after Miley’s departure, we would have come back and either won the game or at least tied it up and made it close. As bad as Wade pitched, he only gave up six runs before his departure. The last run charged to him was on base when he exited the game and came home against Sneed.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll just say ‘bad night’. In fairness, the guys we threw out there – Sneed [4 ER] Biagnini [6 ER], Devenski [2 ER], and Valdez [2 ER] really aren’t part of our bullpen. They were just sacrificial lambs thrown on the bloody altar Wade Miley built. So the biggest message I see in the debacle that was last night is – at or above league average, but really, really thin in depth. Once you get past Harris, Pressley, James, Rondon, and Osuna, we pretty much have only batting practice arms specializing in home run derby lob sessions.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. The sports world is generally “what have you done for me lately?” The obvious answer on what could get Luhnow/Hinch fired would be scandal. At to performance, the Astros payroll is near the top of the league. I suspect a year where they greatly underperformed expectations would put them on the radar. Consecutive years would probably cost Hinch his job and possibly both. There are always other factors involved than simple number of wins and losses, but Houston is a city where the seats are empty when the team is not winning.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. We can’t have another game like last night. Are the Express out of it now??
    If so……bring every pitcher they have that can throw a baseball. *ALL* of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they are still in it and moving on to the next level.
      Unless something happened since I last checked on them. I heard Correa was doing rehab there today.

      Like

      • They are still in it. They beat the Iowa Cubs in round one. They are now down one game to the Sacramento Bees [after losing a hard-fought game last night]. Brandon Bielak, who had a great year, takes the hill for the Express tonight.

        Like

    • Just remember they can only bring up someone who is on the 40 man roster – the only pitchers that includes would be Armenteros, Martes and Deetz.
      They could bring up more if they made room on the 40 man – e.g. put Aaron Sanchez on the 60 day IL or DFA’d someone like Jack Mayfield or trade off a non-40 man pitcher for a 40 man pitcher – DFA someone else like Deetz

      Like

      • I haven’t heard anything encouraging about McHugh. If he won’t be available for October, they could put him on the 60-day IL. He is going to be a free agent in November. Then they could add someone like Javier or Paredes to the 40-man because they are going to be needed to be added this fall anyway unless they want to lose them in the Rule 5 draft.

        Like

  23. No Yuli in the lineup….think he’s hurt worse than we thought? I agree with you OP….unless McHugh can make it back ASAP…..Luhnow can’t wait for him.
    I just hope Peacock can come back healthy….but I’m not holding my breath.
    I said we would be lucky to come out of this series with a split…..I’m not so sure about that anymore. The A’s have EVERYTHING to lose with this series, and they smell blood.

    Like

  24. One game at a time for me. To beat this A’s club, you need good pitching. They’ve got seven guys in the lineup tonight with 20 plus homers. I’m sure they are feeling pretty good about themselves today.

    Good news on Pressly today. I’d like to think they are just being very cautious with Yuli. Our problem right now is not in scoring runs.

    I think our immediate goal tonight should be to get out of the first inning without giving anything up.

    Like

    • I heard the booth say something about Urquidy being on a pitch count. Guess that’s why he pulled early. Not helping with bats in hibernation thus far

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s