It’s been an up and down season for the Houston Astros and manager Bo Porter. The team started the year 11-26 and looked like they were going to be the laughing stock of the MLB once again. The first half of the season included two seven game losing streaks and stretches where the team dropped seven of eight games in early May and eight of nine games in the middle of June.
At one point in the year, it looked like Porter didn’t have a great chance of surviving the season, or offseason for that matter, with his job as Astros manager. However, recently, the team has started to play much better baseball and is now 43-48 since May 10th. (That’s close to the record of playoff hopeful teams like the Tigers, Yankees, and Indians during that span.)
So now the question is: do the Astros keep Bo Porter as their manager after the season is over?
Bo Porter (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
I think they should. I know being 54-74, and still having one of the five worst records in the MLB, doesn’t seem very encouraging, but the Astros feel like an entirely different team the second half of the season. Some of that is thanks to guys like George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Chris Carter bringing excitement and energy to the ballclub, but part of the credit has to also go to Porter and his staff.
There’s something to be said when a manager can keep the attention and focus of his players on a team that was struggling like the Astros were the last couple years. Losing can cause a lot of distractions because players know their jobs are never really safe and the games start to mean less and less as the season goes along. However, Porter has grown up a lot as a manager (remember, this is just his second season on the job) and shown he has the ability to be a great leader.
This season, after the team finished 51-111 in his first year, Porter has done a terrific job with the young players, like Springer and Jon Singleton, while also showing an ability to manage veteran guys like Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls. Even just the body language of the team feels different lately. The clubhouse atmosphere actually looks relaxed and fun for the first time in years.
Don’t get me wrong: Porter certainly isn’t perfect. Every once in awhile, he does things that will make you scratch your head, like defensive shifts, calls to the bullpen, and lineup changes that seem to make no sense. However, more times than not, Porter’s tactics have worked and he’s shown a great ability to connect with his players.
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For example, he did a terrific job handling the Mark Appel situation earlier in the year by not letting the problems between management and certain guys on the Astros affect the way the team was playing. Porter’s also done a nice job dealing with problems like injuries, frustrated veterans, and pretty much every other obstacle thrown at him this season.
Now, we are about one month away from the Astros making a decision on his job. To me, Porter should get another season to prove he is the right man for the job. The last three months the team has looked much better at the plate and on the mound.
With even more talent coming up next year, and hopefully a big free agent signing or two, Porter’s ability as a manager will really start to show in 2015. If that happens, the Astros could be really happy they were patient and decided to keep him.