Monday, September 1, 2014

Astros fire Porter and Trembley on Labor Day

The Labor Day bit just adds to the irony.

As of a few hours ago, the Astros announced that Bo Porter and Dave Trembley have been "relieved of their duties", and replaced with organisational managerial stand-in Tom Lawless and ex-player/roving instructor Adam Everett respectively.

The Front Office Press Release specifically stated that the firing was nothing to do with current record, but more to do with differing philosophies.  In fact, Luhnow specifically takes the blame for the win-loss record, while pointing out that perhaps Bo was not paddling in the same direction.  The press release provides no real further detail.

The shakeup comes on the first off-day after Ken Rosenthal's story broke that cited numerous anonymous sources that discussed "tension" in the front office.  The Chronicle Astros Blog commented on the story, seemingly pouring cold water on it.  Fangraphs, in an earlier conversation, detected no animosity or hint of difficulty between Porter and Luhnow.  Then this happened, and it appears that Rosenthal's sources were correct, and that the Astros may have been waiting for the off day to do the firing.

I may perhaps publish a long and rambling, overly wordy article on this later in the day, but my first thought is that this must relate to a relatively recent event or series of events that made Porter's position untenable.  As the interface between the number-inclined Front Office (all decisions made by a computer algorithm, donchaknow!) and the human-beings with thoughts and feelings running around on the field, there is always going to be some friction, and the job is more about how that friction is handled.  Handle it the wrong way, and the wrong message gets sent to the players; handle it right, and that is important in getting the buy in of everyone.

My second thought is one likely shared by most of you.  Man, the hits for the PR side of the organisation keep coming.  When do the Astros stop resembling a joke??  Winning is going to cure a lot of hard feelings (if it ever happens) but at the moment, the organisation looks chaotic and disorganised at times, with periods of relative calm in between.  The Ground Control leaks were bad, this is bad, Jarred Cosart's chip is bad, Bud Norris' earlier comments were bad... you get the point.  Sheesh, when will this all stop.

Finally, it seems that Bo Porter is the first casualty of the new regime.  He came in at the very bottom - at a critical time of the rebuild - and won't get to see the fruits of his labours, or the rewards for lots of losing.  That, to me, is sad.  Best of luck, Bo.

ESPN has a good early take which is very speculative here.  I am sure more ink will be spilt about this story in the next few days.

Enjoy Labor Day.