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Bo Porter Rumors
Interim Braves GM John Hart announced today that the team will retain Fredi Gonzalez for the 2015 season and hire recently dismissed Astros manager Bo Porter as a third base/outfield and baserunning coach (Twitter links). According to a team press release, assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher will not be returning to the organization in 2015, and Porter will replace former third base coach Doug Dascenzo. Hitting coach Greg Walker already announced his resignation earlier this week. The remainder of the coaching staff will return, according to the Braves.
The news may not sit well with Braves fans, as many called for Gonzalez to suffer the same fate as recently fired GM Frank Wren following the team’s collapse and offensive struggles. Gonzalez, however, will be retained for a fifth season as the Atlanta skipper. To this point, the Braves are 358-290 under Gonzalez, who has also managed the Marlins and owns a lifetime 634-569 record as a Major League manager.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported shortly before the announcement that Porter was expected to join the Braves’ staff (Twitter links). As O’Brien noted, Porter has strong ties to Gonzalez after spending three years with him as a coach for the Marlins and playing for him when Gonzalez managed Triple-A Richmond in 2002.
Former Rangers cornerstone Michael Young has joined the team’s front office, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link), although Heyman does not include specifics on Young’s role with the club. While he was once speculated as a candidate to fill the team’s managerial vacancy, he’s now helping with the search, Heyman adds.
More from the AL West…
- Rival executives don’t expect Athletics GM Billy Beane to stand pat following the team’s late collapse and elimination in last night’s one-game playoff, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. One executive speculated that Jeff Samardzija could be an offseason trade candidate, while a second threw out the possibility of trading Josh Donaldson. While I can personally envision the Samardzija scenario — he’s a free agent after 2015 and could $10MM+ via arbitration — the Donaldson suggestion is tough to picture. As Rosenthal notes, he’s arb-eligible for the first time this offseason and controlled through 2018, so there’s no reason to think Oakland would feel pressure to trade him.
- Among the players whom the A’s could potentially lose to free agency is Jed Lowrie, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with Lowrie about the situation (All Twitter links). Slusser notes that Lowrie is one of the few players who was honest about his free agency by admitting that money will be a driving factor behind his decision. Lowrie adds that he’s looking for a good fit for him and his family, and he says he’s be willing to play second base on a full-time basis. Asked about the possibility of receiving a qualifying offer, Lowrie said he’d have to give consideration to accepting. A qualifying offer to Lowrie seems unlikely, in my view.
- MLB.com’s Richard Justice calls the Astros‘ hiring of A.J. Hinch a bold move and revisits former Diamondbacks/Padres GM Josh Byrnes’ decision to give Hinch his first managerial gig back in 2009. The move was controversial, to say the least, as Byrnes had to dismiss the popular Bob Melvin to bring the 34-year-old Hinch into the picture. Hinch had never coached or managed, but as Byrnes explains to Justice, Hinch brings a number of desirable qualities to the table.
- Justice’s colleague, Brian McTaggart, writes that Astros players appear to be on board with the move. Chad Qualls spoke highly of Hinch, who was his manager with the D’Backs in 2010, and Gregorio Petit called him “a real honest guy” after getting to know him a bit while in the Padres organization. Dallas Keuchel is excited after meeting Hinch and hinted that there were communication problems not only between previous manager Bo Porter and the front office, but also between Porter and the players. “I think we need to have better communication than we’ve had in the past couple of years,” said Keuchel.
The Astros fired manager Bo Porter yesterday, and owner Jim Crane confirms to Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle that Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow weren’t seeing eye to eye. “[The GM and the manager] have to be closely aligned and singing the same song,” said Crane. “That wasn’t happening.” Crane acknowledged that Porter was put in a difficult situation and said he feels Porter “did a pretty good job with what we gave him” before voicing his support for Luhnow’s vision. Crane says that Nolan Ryan, Reid Ryan and Craig Biggio will all be involved in the search for the next Houston manager, and he wonders if the Astros would benefit from someone with more managerial experience.
Here’s more on Porter’s firing and the search for the next Astros skipper…
- There were some within the Astros organization that thought Porter should be dismissed following the 2013 season, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily Insider-only blog. However, the prevailing opinion wound up being that it was too soon to let go of a manager who had just completed his first season. Olney spoke with team sources that told him some players and club employees are angry over the situation. Some club employees are even looking for jobs elsewhere, according to Olney.
- With porter out of the picture in Houston, Luhnow could be next on the chopping block if the team does not show significant improvement in 2014, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines (video link). One specific area of improvement for Luhnow will be showing that he can successfully build a bullpen, Rosenthal points out.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with pitching coach Brent Strom regarding his relationship with Porter, and Strom had positive things to say. Strom was hired by Luhnow and has a longstanding relationship with the GM, but says he learned a lot from Porter, whom he met just this past offseason. “I really grew to appreciate his intelligence and his attention to detail,” Strom said. “I actually learned a great deal from him, I really did. Stuff that in all my years of baseball I had not thought about, and I documented all those things and actually had passed it on to our minor league pitching coaches for future years throughout our system.”
- Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is likely to be a candidate, sources tell ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
- Some “potential candidates,” according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, include former Astros star (and current adviser) Craig Biggio. Other possibilities include bench coaches Tim Bogar (Rangers) and Dave Martinez (Rays) along with third base coaches Dave Clark (Tigers) and Joe McEwing (White Sox). McTaggart’s colleague, Richard Justice, also tweets that Bogar is a candidate.
- In addition to the names listed above, Drellich lists some other hypothetical candidates for the skipper’s role. Former big league managers Manny Acta and Trey Hillman, A’s bench coach Chip Hale, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, recent Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch, and interim manager Tom Lawless.
Here’s the latest on the Astros’ managerial situation after the firing of Bo Porter earlier today:
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says the team could hire a new manager before the end of the season, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Luhnow says the Astros will be looking for similar qualities in a manager that they were looking for when they hired Porter. He also notes that interim manager Tom Lawless could be considered for the job on a permanent basis if he expresses interest in the position.
- It certainly sounds like Lawless is interested, to judge from his comments today (via Drellich). “Oh, it was pretty exciting,” he says. “I got (word) yesterday, last night. Jeff called and wanted to know if I wanted to take over the team for the last 30 days, and I said, ‘Sure!’“
- Porter has released a statement regarding his dismissal, thanking the Astros and the city of Houston for their support.
- One potential candidate to replace Porter could be former Padres star Phil Nevin, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Nevin has impressed observers with his work this year as the manager for Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks’ system.
The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release. Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties. Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.
As reported last week by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, a divide had grown between Porter and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow. Porter felt that Luhnow was overly critical of his in-game strategy, and he also didn’t think his own opinions were being heard within the front office. Porter was also upset that he wasn’t consulted when Mark Appel was brought to Minute Maid Park for a throwing session in July, a move that also drew complaints from several Astros players.
As part of the team’s official statement, Luhnow predictably didn’t address any specific issues between he and Porter, yet hinted at differences of opinion by saying “I believe we need a new direction in the clubhouse.”
“What we will seek going forward is a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization. It is essential that as an organization we create an atmosphere at the Major League level where our young players can come up and continue to develop and succeed. Ultimately, I am responsible for creating that culture and I will do everything in my power to do so — even when it means making difficult moves like the one we made today.”
Porter was hired as the Astros’ manager in September 2012 and officially took over the job on Opening Day 2013. He had a 110-190 record with the rebuilding club, and Luhnow noted in his statement that Porter’s record wasn’t the issue: “I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible.”
This has not been a stellar year for the Astros front office, as the Porter firing is the latest in a series of controversies that have emerged in Houston this season. There was a dispute over George Springer‘s promotion, several of the team’s trade discussion notes were leaked online and the Astros were heavily criticized for both their failure to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken and their subsequent decision to pull out of an agreement with fifth-rounder Jacob Nix. It’s not surprising that Luhnow won this apparent power struggle with Porter given how much the franchise has invested in Luhnow’s rebuilding plan, yet the questions about Luhnow’s stewardship of the team will inevitably continue until the Astros start to produce on the field.
This is Lawless’ first time managing at the Major League level, as he has worked as a manager, coach and roving instructor within the Astros’ organzation for several years. Former Astro Adam Everett has also been hired to take over as bench coach. According to the club’s press release, the Astros will “immediately” begin looking for next long-term manager.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images
The balance of power in the AL West has swung heavily in the Angels’ direction after the Halos completed a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Sunday. Los Angeles now own both baseball’s best record (83-53) and a five-game lead over the struggling A’s, who are looking for answers after an 12-17 August. Oakland is still on track to reach the postseason, as they hold a four-game lead in the AL wild card race.
Here’s the latest from around the AL West…
- The A’s will cover $1MM of the roughly $2.3MM remaining on Adam Dunn‘s 2014 salary, and ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Oakland’s willingness to take on this much of Dunn’s salary was part of the reason why the A’s were able to acquire the slugger. The Giants, Dodgers and at least one other team were also reportedly talking to the White Sox about a Dunn trade.
- Astros manager Bo Porter tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that his relationship with Houston’s front office “is what he expected coming in,” which seems to counter recent rumors of tension between Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow. “My staff and I take all the information from our baseball ops and use it to the best of our ability. Every last component of that is needed to be successful,” Porter said.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, 37-year-old lefty Joe Beimel not only has no plans to retire, his 12-year career might only be half-over. “I plan on pitching until I’m at least 50….I don’t see any reason I can’t do what Jamie Moyer did,” Beimel said. “He was starting games at 49 years old and getting guys out with 80 mph. I’m not down that low yet and I figure if he could go six, seven innings, I could at least come in and get one or two guys out.” After missing 2012 and 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, Beimel is enjoying a nice comeback year out of the Mariners‘ bullpen. The veteran southpaw has a 2.03 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB ratio in 40 innings, and he’s held left-handed batters to only a .480 OPS.
The Tigers won the three-way Curtis Granderson deal with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. With Granderson fighting through an injury-riddled season and Ian Kennedy now in San Diego, Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson have been crucial contributors to what is extremely likely to be a division-winning season for Detroit. The Tigers have also acquired Miguel Cabrera, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez via trade, Sherman points out.
"I learned not to care what others thought, only what we thought," says GM Dave Dombrowski. "The guys who are ranking, they have never seen our players." Sherman argues that one key to Dombrowski's success as a trader has been his willingness to deal his prospects. Also, Dombrowski isn't concerned with fleecing the other team, and is willing to give good value to get good value, Sherman says, citing this summer's swap of Avisail Garcia for Jose Iglesias (part of the Jake Peavy deal) as an example. "We didn’t want to trade Avisail Garcia," says Dombrowski. "We think he is going to be a very good player. The question for us is how good is the player we are getting back. We think Jose Iglesias is going to be a very good player, too." Here are more notes from the American League.
- In the wake of the death of owner Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Mariners' future is uncertain, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. One possibility might be the return, in some capacity, of former GM Pat Gillick, who currently works for the Phillies. "People here think very fondly of him,” says Scott Weitz, a sports law attorney from Seattle. "I don’t think anybody would be disappointed if he took on a role with the team." It's also unclear whether Yamauchi's stake in the team will be sold — his 55% of the team is now controlled by Nintendo of America.
- Manager Bo Porter will be back for the Astros in 2014, although it's unclear what will happen to his field staff, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets. The Astros have suffered through a 51-101 season, but it isn't as if a large percentage of the Astros' struggles can be pinned on their manager or his staff — 2013 was clearly a rebuilding year.
The Royals' trade for Ervin Santana was the best move of the offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney writes. Santana has posted a 2.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in a resurgent season in Kansas City. Right behind the Santana deal, Olney says, was the Braves' deal for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, followed by the Orioles' signing of Nate McLouth. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Olney's ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick writes about Francisco Liriano's surprising season with the Pirates. Sure enough, just hours after Crasnick's article was published, Liriano allowed ten runs against the Rockies at Coors Field. But he has still been a big part of the Pirates' stellar year, and for very cheap — Liriano has a complex contract based on the timing of his return from a broken humerus suffered last offseason, but the deal tops out at $4.75MM for 2013, and includes a reasonable vesting option for 2014. Crasnick also names the Rays' James Loney, the Mets' Marlon Byrd, and others as being among the best cheap signings of the offseason.
- Astros manager Bo Porter isn't planning on returning to Washington to manage the Nationals after Davey Johnson retires at the end of the season, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com report. "I'm the Houston Astros manager," says Porter. "I'm 100 percent entrenched into getting our situation here to where it is we want to be. The situation in Washington is completely out of my hands and — I'm going to give you my famous one — out of my jurisdiction." Porter is in the midst of a multi-year contract with the Astros, McTaggart and Abshire note, and could only leave for the Nats if the Astros decided to trade him or just let him depart. Neither scenario seems likely, however.
- Jeff Samardzija has struggled recently, but the Cubs don't think his contract situation has anything to do with it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Samardzija allowed nine runs on Thursday against the Phillies, four starts after allowing nine against the Angels. "We’ve had some dialogue at different times, but nothing’s really changed on that front, so I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times," says Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, Samardzija's name occasionally appeared in trade rumors, but it never looked particularly likely that the Cubs would deal him. The two sides reportedly will discuss a contract extension after the season is over. Samardzija is eligible for free agency after 2015.
General manager Jeff Luhnow told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he can envision manager Bo Porter leading the Astros for a long time. “He could be one of those guys who is an Astros manager for decades, not just years,” Luhnow said of Porter. “The players knowing that this is the group that’s going to be here — it begins to lay the foundation for stability, which is really what we’re looking for.” The Astros hired the 40-year-old Porter after the 2012 season.
Here are more notes on the Astros and Texas’ other team, the Rangers…
- Earlier today MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that the Astros will take a look at Brennan Boesch (Twitter link). The Tigers released the outfielder this morning.
- The Rangers are high on Jurickson Profar, but it's still not clear what his role will be in 2013, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Rangers would "not necessarily" need an everyday role for Profar to justify keeping him on the roster in the view of manager Ron Washington. That said, a Triple-A assignment hasn’t been ruled out. Here's a look at service time considerations for top prospects such as Profar.
- George A. King III of the New York Post reported today that the Rangers are watching Joba Chamberlain.
The Astros officially named Bo Porter their next manager today, publicly endorsing his experience and leadership skills. "He brings an energy to the clubhouse that is contagious and a teaching and motivating style that is appropriate for players of all ages and tenures," GM Jeff Luhnow said in a statement from the team. Here are more managerial notes from around MLB, starting with Porter and the Astros…
- The Astros will wait until Porter finishes his season with the Nationals before making any decisions about the coaching staff, writes Clark Goble of MLB.com. Porter will also be among those involved in the construction of the staff, according to Luhnow. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco will have a role with the club, but it's not yet known what that will involve.
- The Astros considered a long list of candidates for the position before interviewing nine candidates, narrowing the list to four finalists and selecting Porter. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco was another finalist for the position, according to the team.
- The Nationals allowed Porter to meet with the Astros despite his obvious value in D.C., general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement issued by the team. “He is smart, talented, and as fiery a competitor as there is in the game today,” Rizzo said.
- The Marlins talked extensively about Porter, a former Miami coach, as a possible replacement for Ozzie Guillen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hasn’t officially said that Bobby Valentine will be dismissed at the end of the regular season, but he discussed the logistics of searching for a manager in an appearance on WEEI’s the Dennis & Callahan show (transcript via Kirk Minihane). “One of the things, as I look back at last offseason, that didn't go perfectly was simply the amount of time that we spent on the manager search and what that did to the rest of the offseason. I would like to spend less time on it this offseason, that's for sure." Though Cherington didn’t quite say Valentine is getting fired, there’s not that much room for interpretation here.