Bo Porter hired as Houston Astros manager
Porter will remain with the postseason-bound Nationals for the remainder of their season before taking over, with Tony DeFrancesco, who has served as Houston’s interim manager since Brad Mills was fired on August 18, finishing out the Astros schedule in that role.
The 40-year-old Porter will lead the rebuilding effort of a young team that currently has the worst record in the Majors, and will move from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013.
"I think he's going to push us to get better, he's going to push us to get better quickly, and he's going to shorten the time that it takes for us to get to where we want to be as an organization which is where the Houston Astros are competing year in and year out for division titles and championships," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in announcing the hire.
On Wednesday, Luhnow and new team owner Jim Crane flew to Philadelphia, where the Nationals will finish a three-game set against the Phillies on Thursday night, to offer Porter the job. The new skipper was not in Houston for the announcement because of that trip, but spoke highly of his new bosses in a Thursday conference call.
"He's putting together a great leadership team and I'm just honored to be a part of that leadership team," Porter said of Crane on the call.
Porter, who played parts of three seasons as an outfielder for the Cubs, Athletics, and Rangers from 1999-2001, has been the Nationals’ third base coach for the last two seasons, and has also coached in the Diamondbacks and Marlins organizations. This will be his first Major League managerial gig, but he did manage the Class-A Jamestown Jammers in 2006.
"Bo Porter joined our staff in 2011 to instruct and coach our young players in how to play the game right, and in how to win," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. "He has been invaluable to us and our drive toward our first postseason."
The chance to take over a team building from within with young players was a big selling point for Porter, and his new skipper’s role in Washington was something Luhnow looked to as a big advantage as well.
“When you are able to grow your own talent and if they get to the big leagues and they are your core players, their level of commitment to the overall excellence of the organization runs a little bit deeper than players that come from the outside," Porter said on the conference call. "That is a goal of this organization and one of the things that really drew me into this job."
"He's been part of the Nationals' ascent, and that's a model that we look at as the Astros to say we'd like to get to that point where we can go from a team that has a losing record to a team that can win a division and compete for a championship like the Nationals are in a position to do this year," Luhnow added.
The Astros also acknowledged that it may be odd to name Porter manager while his current team is still competing, but they didn’t want to wait and appreciated the Nationals’ cooperation.
"Part of the strategy was to try and get out in front of this," Crane said. "Wednesday, when the season is over there will probably be people looking for managers. I think it did give us an advantage of getting out in front of things. The people that have worked with Bo before say that he really has an innate ability to understand the game and understand the moves that need to be made and do the right thing.”
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