The Astros' quick in-season agreement to hire Bo Porter as manager raises the question of whether they felt the need to beat the Marlins to the punch.
Porter's agreement to become Houston's manager allows him to continue to remain the Nationals third base coach as long they keep playing. It's unusual to see the future manager of another team still coaching his original team, and some will question it, but in this case with Houston as dead as the Nationals are alive it seems like the right thing to do.
Porter wished to see it through in the Nationals' wonderful season and he may have had an upper hand in negotiations, with the Marlins seeming to loom as a threat to hire him. Porter is liked by the Marlins, where he was once a coach, and they are expected to seek a young cost-efficient alternative if they decide not to keep Ozzie Guillen, who has three years and $7.5 million remaining on his contract.
There seems to be increasing thinking that the Marlins are looking to replace Guillen. Reportedly, they have investigated potential replacements.
Miami higherups will meet at year's end to decide the embattled Guillen's fate, among other things, though it doesn't necessarily bode well for him now that it appears they will keep Larry Beinfest, the president for baseball operations who isn't seen as a Guillen ally.
Porter is a Houston resident, though he never worked for the organization. He is an engaging and active coach who also previously coached for the Diamondbacks. He had interviews for managing jobs in Miami and Pittsburgh previously, jobs that went to Edwin Rodriguez and Clint Hurdle.
The job he is taking will require a lot of patience. The Astros are 51-105, and that's after a relatively decent start. They traded away older and even younger veterans like Chris Johnson and J.A. Happ to try to set themselves up for years down the road.
the affable, energetic Porter is well regarded. In Washington, Porter managed to be liked by both GM Mike Rizzo and previous Nationals manager Jim Riggleman even though Rizzo and Riggleman for the most part seemed to have separate reporters (the ones who backed Rizzo remain). Porter's Nationals ties aided him in his chances with the Astros, as Astros first-base coach Dan Radison, who is a close confidant of new Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, was on the Nationals coaching staff under Riggleman.
The Astros sought a man who will adapt well to the new-age, objective-based Astros thinking. They have made almost wholesale changes within their baseball hierarchy, clearing out many who remained from the old regime. A press conference has been called for 10 a.m. Houston time.
Red Sox coach Tim Bogar and Rays coach Dave Martinez were thought to be finalists for the job that went to Porter.
Brad Ausmus took himself out of the running for the Astros managing job soon after interviewing, and Larry Bowa did as well, suggesting the Astros needed someone younger for the job. Porter is 40, so if he hangs in there he might see the Astros become a winner.
When I mentioned 2013 looks like it also might be a long one for Houston, which is in a deep rebuilding mode and is making the switch to the tougher American League West, one competing executive remarked, "And 2014 and '15 don't look so rosy, either.''