REPORT: Houston Astros manager and GM are at odds

  • David Whitlock

The Houston Astros have had three of the worst seasons in baseball history, let alone franchise history.  With a 162-324 from 2011 – 2013, things seem to be looking up on the field as the 2014 version of the team is on pace for 68 wins and a fourth place finish in the tough AL West.  But all may not be well behind the scenes.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that second year manager Bo Porter may not be on the same page as General Manager Jeff Luhnow, whose tactics have been criticized by everyone from Astros players, the MLB Players Association, agents, and other GMs.  Rosenthal clarifies:

Porter’s frustration stems from a lack of input and from his belief that Luhnow engages in excessive second-guessing of his in-game management, sources said.

Those critical of Luhnow say that he keeps a small circle, communicating mostly with director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and others while rarely consulting the team’s on-field staff, executive advisor Nolan Ryan and special assistant to the GM Craig Biggio.

Luhnow had measurable success in a number of front office roles for the highly successful St. Louis Cardinals organization from 2003 – 2011, which included two World Series titles and another NL Pennant.  Some controversial happenings since taking over for the Astros have been failing to sign the 2014 number one overall draft pick in Brady Aiken, some miscommunication on the promotion of 2013 number one overall draft pick Mark Appel, as well as failing to bring up prospect talent to the majors for the perceived benefit of assuring franchise control as long as possible.

Luhnow and Porter talk strategy at Spring Training Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

Luhnow and Porter talk strategy at Spring Training
Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

The Astros are projected by many to be competitive for the playoffs as soon as 2016 as several prospects both traded for or drafted hit their prime.  If they aren’t sure that Bo Porter is their leader on the field, they’ll probably make a move sooner than later.  It’s highly doubtful given the stockpiling of talent that Luhnow has provided (along with his predecessor Ed Wade) that a move at GM would be  the solution.  According to Rosenthal, the length of Porter’s contract is unclear.  Of course, manager contracts rarely expire without a firing before or extension due to success.

It’s likely team president Reid Ryan will have to inject himself into the situation before it gets much worse.

– David Whitlock

H/T: Matt Snyder CBS Eye on Baseball

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David Whitlock

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David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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