The Houston Astros fired manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley on Monday, naming Tom Lawless and Adam Everett their respective interim replacements. Lawless was the interim manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season when manager Tony DeFrancesco was on medical leave. Everett was also working in the minors. When you lose as much as Houston has the last six seasons, change is frequent and inevitable.
At the end of the day, Porter’s fortitude didn’t match the altitude of Houston’s MLB flight plans. It’s a common theme. The young, brash, opinionated manager or head coach takes over a pitiful team filled with even younger prospects and a black hole of uncertainty. He has the talent and the baseball knowledge having previously served as a coach with the Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals organizations.
The prodigy quickly finds out that being the head guy is different. Everything is on you when you are the H.N.I.C. Porter’s support in Houston has run the gamut from strong to non existent. Managing in a job where you know you don’t have a snowball’s shot in Hades of winning more games than you lose is frustrating. Managing for a cheap organization that is the complete opposite of Wes Welker at a strip club is demoralizing. Having to teach a bunch of bratty, snot-nosed high draft picks how to play in the pros and meet all of the required demands of an MLB manager, can make a cat wig out.
The 42-year-old Porter’s certainly done that a few times. He’s had some classic rants and tirades during his two seasons with Houston in which he won just 110 of 300 games.
Toss a rocky relationship with your boss into the mix and it was only a matter of time before Porter was sent packing.
The two just weren’t feeling each other. Luhnow obviously didn’t dig Porter’s fiery style. In other words, he wasn’t feeling the angry black man routine and decided to go the complete opposite direction with the older, more laid back Lawless.
Everett, a 37-year-old former Astros player can relate to the younger cats and bridge the age gap between skipper and newbies.
Recent reports have highlighted the discord between Porter and general manager Jeff Luhnow. A couple of days prior to Porter’s firing Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that there was serious tension between Porter and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
The two sound-clashed over the latter's management style, which would see him "engage in excessive second-guessing" of the manager he hired in 2012. Rosenthal reports Porter went over Luhnow's head and complained to owner Jim Crane.
Also there have been reports that the Astros are a more sabermetric-based organization in philosophy which conflicted with Porter’s more traditional style of managing. Porter brought into some of the modern applications, but overall his direction and temperament didn’t coincide with the team’s organizational vision.
"Bo's passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned," Luhnow said in a statement announcing the firing. "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."
Bad boy Bo broke protocol by going over Luhnow’s head. It’s not a common practice, but when you decide to do it, you have to have won a lot more games than Porter has.
He has to play the “people game” a little better than that. Consigned for a fourth-place finish in the AL West and headed for their sixth straight losing season, he didn’t have any ammo to basically suggest to the owner that the GM (the guy that owner picked to run his squad) needs an attitude adjustment.
The Astros went a franchise-worst 51-111 in Porter’s first season for their third straight 100-loss season. A manager builds influence and the cache to be able dump on a GM by bringing home c’hips and rocking those shiny rings and things. Porter was expendable from jump. He was a guy with no managerial experience and the Houston Astros gave him a shot at one of 30 coveted gigs on the planet.
Bo gets the boot at a time when things seemed to be coming together for Houston. The Astros actually went 15-14 during the month of August. Still, a 60-79 record speaks volumes. Hopefully Bo can rebound quickly, but for some guys the road back to head honcho is twice as long as the road to get there. He has a rep as a hard-nosed, sometimes out-of-control leader who will guillotine his boss if necessary. What GM will bring in a guy with that reputation?