Late last night news broke that the Houston Astros had named a new Manager and it would be Bo Porter, third base coach of the Washington Nationals. Per a tweet from Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle, front office personnel flew to Philadelphia yesterday, where the Nationals were playing to formally offer Porter the job.
Once again the Astros front office had big news flying through the air as most of us slept. They made it official during a 10am press conference at Minute Maid Park this morning. During his statement GM, Jeff Luhnow, stated about Porter, “He is openminded. He is smart and he knows baseball.”
Porter, who has been with the Nationals since 2011, was not the guy many of us had in mind for this position, but it’s only fair we give him his shot. The powers that be in the Astros front office did a fine job this year of making deals, stocking a desolate farm system, and proving that they have a master plan for returning the Houston nine to the glory the team once knew.
I’ll continue to have faith until they prove to me I shouldn’t.
In the meantime, Bo Porter and the Nationals are in a race for a championship and Luhnow asked that we all respect that and let him finish the job he has ahead of him. Not that Bo Porter would pick up his phone for me, I would love to ask him a handful of questions.
But for now, we have this: Bo Porter is a 40 year old who lives in Houston during the offseason, so he’s a hometown boy, of sorts. He played football at the University of Iowa until he was drafted in the 40th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 1993 draft as an outfielder. He made his major league debut, with the Cubs, in 1999, but would end up going to Oakland in the Rule 5 Draft in 2000. He played for the A’s for only 1 season before being claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, again, staying there only one season. He played the rest of his career in the minors in the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies systems until his career concluded.
Since leaving the playing field he’s done everything from hitting coach in the minors to third base coach in the majors. He’s been a managerial candidate for the Marlins and Pirates, but never got to grab the brass ring.
Fangraphs interviewed Porter back in July of this year, calling him a “Future Big League Manager.” When asked what his managerial style would be, he said this -
“When people ask what kind of manager I’ll be, I always tell them, ‘Give me a roster and then I’ll tell you how I’m going to manage that ball club.’ You can say you’re going to be an aggressive manager and that we’re going to steal bases and hit-and-run, but if you have six guys in your lineup that can hit 25 home runs, it’s probably not a good idea to take too many chances of giving away outs. Conversely, if you have a team that doesn’t have a lot of power — but you do have guys who put the ball in play — you can put runners in motion.
“You want to take advantage of the ability that your players have. How you manage shouldn’t be etched in stone. You have to play to your strengths and at the same time you have to look at your opponent. If there are things the other team doesn’t do well, you want to put your players in a position to take advantage of that. A big part of this game is recognizing advantages, whether you do that with data or with your own eyes.”
As of yesterday, Porter’s wish came true. I’d say with one heck of a coaching opportunity ahead of him. Many would see the Houston Astros as the team they’d least like to lead, but I’d bet that Porter’s looking at it as the opportunity of a lifetime. He gets the chance to prove to the Marlins and the Pirates that they were wrong. That he can turn a team around.
Until he proves me wrong, I’ll give Mr. Porter the benefit of the doubt. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a team that has the lowest payroll and highest loss rate in the majors. A team that has too many minor leaguers taking the field each night. A team that has a developing farm system that’s talent is a few years out from the show. Yes, he has one heck of a challenge in front of him, but it’s one hell of an opportunity.
Welcome to Houston, Bo.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.