Bo Porter laid the foundation for the Astros World Series squad and deserves a look as a potential manager.
Some MLB team is going to make a move on Bo Porter any day now.
Rumors are rampant concerning the Washington Nationals and New York Mets managerial positions. With both teams coming off underachieving seasons and continuing to struggle into 2019, the reality is setting in that a minor rebuild is required for both franchises to get back to where they were just a few seasons ago — as legitimate division contenders.
If these teams are truly looking for a candidate who has experience developing young talent, can motivate players, stresses fundamentals and has overseen a rebuild, then look no further than former Houston Astros manager and current Washington Nationals broadcaster Porter, whose name has been rumored as a hot candidate for both jobs, along with former Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Why not Bo?
Porter makes sense for several reasons. For one, he is proven to be savvy at team construction and squeezing water out of a rock. Two, he might not say it, but he’s got to be hungry for another crack at coaching a team more suitable for title contention.
When the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series, Porter received countless texts, social media posts, and fan mail, congratulating him for laying the foundation, cultivating young talent and babysitting a tank job during the 2013-14 seasons before the many jewels of the team’s farm system burst into World Series form.
Despite being burdened with raw talent, a disastrous pitching staff, below average MLB veterans and the inability to hire his own people to implement his vision, Porter managed to make strides with the organization and even in losing, his superb managerial acumen and ability to lead was evident.
“My question would be,” Porter told The Shadow League one summer afternoon during the MLB-sponsored Hank Aaron Invitational camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, “How would Bo Porter fare if he was given a roster that was built to win? Or given a chance to take over a rebuilding team, do all of the groundwork, build the infrastructure and help the young players learn on the job and then have the opportunity to see those players through. That’s all you can ask for.”
Bo doesn’t speak in specifics, because as a reputable member of the baseball community he protects his brothers at all time.
It’s not hard to catch his drift though. Remember Yankees Hall of Fame manager and five-time WS champion Joe Torre? Prior to becoming Yankees skipper, he had just five winning seasons in his first 15 years as an MLB manager with the Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
Then he joined the pinstripes and had access to talent and unlimited resources, the support of a title-hungry owner and became a legend.
Bo went 110-190 as Astros manager. In reality, he did a tremendous job under the circumstances, which were not ideal from the jump. Despite glaring setbacks, he stayed true to his baseball principles of mandatory max-effort, fundamentals and playing the game the right way. His efforts started to come to fruition in 2014, but he was unceremoniously fired with 24 games left after going 59-79 and showing improvement in all phases.
It was a short hook, to say the least.
Bo Knows The Nats
The Nationals have significantly more established talent than that Houston squad. Washington seems like a perfect fit for Bo as he has worked in the organization as a third base coach and is currently the television broadcaster for the Washington Nationals on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).
Porter makes sense as a possible replacement for Martinez, though Porter tells The Shadow League that he’s “not soliciting any managerial jobs”, as he’s thoroughly enjoying sharing his extensive baseball knowledge with the fans as an analyst with a seasoned MLB resume as a player, manager, and executive. He did say that “he’s open to listening if the right situation falls into my lap.”
The more the Nats hover below .500, however, the more Porter’s name starts being brought up by MLB insiders and Nationals fans.
The Nats better move fast.
After the disastrous stretch that the Mets just had, in which they lost five-straight and got swept by the Miami Marlins — a team with a .295 winning percentage — as well as the drama surrounding supposed team leader Robinson Cano’s refusal to hustle and the team’s lack of effort, it’s clear that the Mets need a different style of manager than the laid back Mickey Callaway.
When analyzing the Mets, it’s increasingly obvious that Porter would be the ideal choice to address what seems to be the two teams’ most glaring deficiencies: hustle, fundamentals and offensive creativity.
Porter is widely acknowledged as a fiery motivator who stresses these things. “I managed in the Houston Astros organization (2013-14), one of the most forward-thinking organizations in all of baseball. I was able to gain a lot of experience, learn a lot of things after I left the Nationals, so I think I will present a voice that is intriguing and educational to our fan base,” Bo told TSL.
Knowledge of the Game
In 2019, he became a television broadcaster.
In his analyst role, Porter consistently exhibits passion, extensive knowledge of baseball and team construction. He equally flexes an impressive grasp of analytics, as well as a unique ability to blend those metrics with the human elements of competition that can’t be quantified with a computer or mathematical percentages.
Former Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, who hasn’t managed since being relieved of his duties with the Yankees a season and a quarter ago is considered the most coveted free agent manager available, having helped the Yankees to six playoff appearances and a World Series championship in 2009 from 2008-2017. He also oversaw his own brief rebuild with the Florida Marlins in 2006.
Girardi was blessed with unlimited resources as Yankees manager.
I’d question if he has the hunger or patience to deal with the Nationals or Mets — teams that have talent but seem to lack a winning culture. That’s something that the manager still has direct control over in this changing baseball landscape, where the front office has shifted a lot of the managerial autonomy away from the dugout.
Planning, patience and having a vision for the organization is also something that Porter is adept at. While managers with less experience, ability and baseball savvy were hired over the past five seasons, Porter was overlooked for several gigs that were perfect for his skill set.
The Nationals and Mets have a rare opportunity to snag a 46-year-old baseball lifer, who has experienced the highs and lows of diamond-mining, and whose ability to lead men has never been questioned.
Right now, it’s a chess match. However, if one club waits too long to pounce on Porter, the other is likely to swoop in and make the change. Why Wait?
Odd Men Out
Dave Martinez took over a team that Dusty Baker took to back-to-back NL East titles and the Brooklyn-born manager won just 82 games — with Bryce Harper. Since the franchise facelift, the Nats have fallen deeper into the abyss, with a 19-27 record so far this season.
Mickey Callaway was a suspect selection off the rip. He had no managerial, team construction or leadership experience beyond that of a pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. The job of coaching the New York Mets has already proved to be too “big” for the Memphis, Tennessee native.
Porter is a kid from Newark, New Jersey, who was raised by a single mom living in the inner city. He used baseball as a tool to rise out of his socio-economic basement and become one of a handful of African-managers in MLB history. He’s the American Dream.
If a change in culture and a respected, proven leader is what you want, then Potter should have been hired yesterday.