Some things to talk about while you go ask the Astros marketing department some hard-hitting questions...
1) Bo Porter's introduction
So, the Astros did indeed have a get-together for Bo Porter on Thursday in the form of a media luncheon. Nothing earth-shattering really came out of the press conference, as the new coaching staff wasn't revealed...yet. McTaggart did break the story yesterday that Joe Pettini will not be back as bench coach, suggesting that Houston may well find some American League savvy bench coach to tutor Porter in the intricacies of the new league.
But, there were three things that stood out. That's right, we've got a sub-three things!
a. Porter isn't gonna trade up - Was this really an issue? Why did Porter feel the need to tell the media that he wasn't going to use this job as a stepping stone? How many major league managers have successfully done that? Maybe Girardi with the Marlins? I guess he felt he had to justify taking over a two-straight-100-loss team.
b. The Train stays - This was part and parcel of an answer Jim Crane gave about Tal's Hill and the train in left field, but it's still nice to hear the train is staying. After all, Union Station is a part of this ballpark, even if trains aren't necessarily in the team's nickname/logo. What was not addressed is if they'll do something about the Community Leaders sign which took away from both the skyline view and the view of the train.
c. Free agency spending - Jeff Luhnow also acknowledged that Houston would committing money into free agency, with maybe a big chunk of that going after a designated hitter. Does that mean they might try to land Adam LaRoche like Cee Angi suggested? Or will they try to get someone like Nick Swisher, who is a year younger and has the more analytically friendly stats? He also fits both the outfield and DH spots that Luhnow suggested Houston would spend money on.
2) Questions about his contract
One thing that wasn't brought up at either his introductory press conference or Thursday's meeting is what is going on with Bo Porter's contract. We know it's a "multi-year" deal, but have no clue as to how long that contract may run. I know some speculation on here and in other areas is that the Astros would give a new manager something like a five-year deal, but apparently the Astros are clamming up about this, too.
Why would the Astros be averse to sharing this information? In going back through my transcript of the Porter press conference (the one where he wasn't there), I don't recall anyone asking the question about his contract. Is it the fault of the media in this case or is it on the Astros to provide these details? With how bad this team is, you assume they would want to give him some breathing room, but I could also understand the standard three-year pact.
What could revealing this hurt? The Astros lock down information like Fort Knox. Is the length of the manager's deal really worth that kind of secrecy?
3) Kohl Stewart scouting
Okay, let's break from all the managerial talk to get a scouting update on St. Pius right-hander and Texas A&M commit Kohl Stewart. Baseball Beginnings has a writeup on him. Here's the money quote:
Loose arm, I’m on the record for saying the elbow sleeve scared me, and has a chance to be a number two starter based on my few looks at him in California over the summer. Good arm, yes, but really a guy who needs a lot of work.
Stewart was consistently 94 on the radar gun at the Petco thing, according to Klima and he seems to have many nice things to stay about him. I share some of the hesitation about his delivery, but that's something that could be cleaned up.
The bigger factor is that Stewart currently has a commitment to Texas A&M where he can both play baseball and football. That means it should be harder to get him out of that commitment by throwing money at him, especially since the new draft rules make it harder to spend freely.
One point in the drafting team's favor is the emergence of Johnny Football with the Aggies. A redshirt freshman at QB means Stewart may not see time there for a while, maybe not for three years. Can he afford to wait that long?
It's an interesting point, and one I know I'm going to be watching as the draft season heats up.