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Can Bo Porter help the Astros find a new identity?

Bo Porter has been a busy man since arriving in Houston on Sunday. The Astros new manager went to work immediately, heading straight to the ballpark on Monday morning. After taking a couple of days to familiarize himself with his new organization, Porter made a TV appearance on Wednesday before being officially introduced at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Bo Porter (US PRESSWIRE)

Porter appeared on CSN Houston’s Sports Talk Live Wednesday night with Kevin Eschenfelder. Porter said the first order of business is constructing the coaching staff, and added that he and Jeff Luhnow are at the “back end” of that process. In today’s presser Luhnow said the group of “expert” coaches will include some recognizable names. He went on to say that the staff should be completed in a couple of phases with the first group of names being revealed as early as Monday.

Porter said once he realized how smart Luhnow and Jim Crane were and how committed they were to building a team geared for long term success, he chose the Astros before they chose him. Porter also mentioned the names of a couple of former Astros (Biggio & Clemens) as possibilities for the coaching staff.

As for the makeup of the team, Porter said he is excited about the group of young players the organization has assembled. Crane and Luhnow also let it be known that the payroll will not be as limited as it was last season and the team will seek to add Free Agents who fit in with the long term plan. Areas that could see an immediate upgrade are the outfield, the pitching staff, and the designated hitter position.

Porter announced today that he is “all in” with the Astros. Stating that he isn’t interested in using Houston as a stepping stone to a better position. He’s in it for the long haul. Porter knows this team isn’t built to win right away. The Astros have accumulated 299 losses over the last three seasons, making them far-and-away the least successful team of the decade. The bulk of those losses came while the Astros were piloted by “personality-less” manager Brad Mills.

Porter’s job is not only to get things turned around on the field, but to create a new identity for the Astros. Currently the team lacks any kind of identity at all other than, perhaps, that of a record-setting loser.  For the most part the Astros are an afterthought. I bet if you asked the average baseball fan to name all 30 teams, the Astros would be one of the last teams they would name- if they even named them at all.

Part of the problem is the Astros are a team without a league. Wasn’t the move to the American League supposed to be effective at the end of the 2013 season? Any baseball website you visit (MLB, Sports Illustrated, etc.) still lists the Astros as part of the National League. Part of the problem is- the Astros aren’t marketing themselves as an American League team. Take today’s press conference, for example. That was a perfect opportunity to hang an American League banner in the background.

Now I know most fans don’t embrace the move to the A.L. but its a done deal. The fact is: the Astros are now in direct competition with the Rangers for more than just wins and losses. We’re competing for fans, market share,  and advertising revenues. The Astros need to make sure that their name is right there next to the Rangers name wherever possible. The club is already in serious danger of losing fans to the Rangers as it is. The next step is for the Astros to get Comcast SportsNet Houston into as many homes as possible (that’s a topic for a future article).

Okay, now back to the new manager and his opportunity to establish a new identity. Porter brings with him a fiery attitude, which is a welcome change from former skipper  Brad Mills. Porter has been able to sidestep questions about wins and losses, stating repeatedly that he will put an emphasis on the process and results will follow. Players who don’t get it done have been informed that they can and will be replaced. Personally, I like Bo’s attitude and I think the young players will buy into it. Let’s hope the results we’re looking for come sooner than expected. With Bo Porter at the helm it’s altogether possible.

 

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