Some things to talk about while I wonder if a conversation is intimate because there were only two Astros reporters in the entire city at the time...
1) Death of the Superstar Manager?
Over at Grantland, Michael Baumann talks about Mike Scioscia's problems right now. No, not his tragic illness that made us smile. His "philosophical differences" with general manager Jerry DiPoto. Baumann goes on to talk about the waning influence of most MLB managers as decision-makers and franchise leaders.
Houston's field boss, Bo Porter, is cited as a great example of what teams want in the new era, working in hand with the front office to reach a lofty goal.
Which is not to say that managers don't make a difference, or that they're removed from the decision-making process. Houston's Bo Porter was hired specifically to supervise perhaps the most aggressive and dramatic rebuilding project in the history of baseball. Arizona's scrap-and-grit experiment has Kirk Gibson to lead it. Likewise, the Tampa Bay Rays, whose aversion to orthodoxy in search of small advantages has been well-celebrated by Grantland's baseball writers, chose Scioscia's longtime lieutenant, Joe Maddon, as manager.
Porter gets quite a bit of credit in the article for taking over this job and what he's done this season. That should tell you something not only of how the Astros see him, but how the league in general feels about Porter. It's also a feeling that should be earned a bit. Look at all the young players Porter has shepherded in successfully this season. Even the ones who struggled at first have come back to good results.
Porter is a big reason for that, but he also represents the new breed of baseball managers. That may be a crucial point in determining how long he retains his role as Astros manager.
2) Negro Leagues Museum doing well
Rob Neyer links to an update on the Negro Leagues museum in Kansas City and the news is all good:
According to the piece, this comes just three years after the museum lost $300,000 in 2009. At that point, I wasn't at all optimistic about the museum's future, with the museum's new director blowing through money and alienating sponsors and friends. But since the change at the top, the museum's financial situation has obviously improved, and just last week -- somewhat bizarrely, in this era of cutbacks -- the State of Missouri contributed $250,000 to the cause.
Basically, all the news is good. Ultimately, I would like to see some private collectors step up and, at the very least, loan significant artifacts to the museum for display. The replica jerseys are pretty, but I've seen how people respond to the genuine articles, and there's just no comparison.
If you've never been, I'd recommend a trip to the museum some summer. It's a great piece of history, laid out really well and great for kids. My son was three when we went and he had a ball, especially at the end, where they have a baseball field with statues of the great Negro League players at each position.
I'm very glad it's doing well, because I was slightly bummed out last summer that such a great museum was facing such financial pressure and might close down. Can't recommend it enough.
3) Matt Harvey's injury and the Mets/Astros future
A few weeks ago, I did a piece asking you, dear readers, whether you'd take Houston's future or the Marlins. It generated good conversation that I thought was worthwhile, so I contemplated doing another, but this time comparing the Astros' and Mets' futures.
The main reason I was doing that was because the Mets had an established superstar in David Wright paired with an emerging ace in Matt Harvey. Houston doesn't have either, so it was a fair question: would you rather have two foundational pieces on the roster or a ton of possibilities in the minors?
Well, the answer to that question changes some with the sad news that Harvey has torn his UCL. That means he's headed for Tommy John surgery and will take probably a year to recover before he pitches again.
Pitchers bounce back from Tommy John all the time now. This is not a death knell for Harvey's career, but it does emphasize some of the danger of these starting pitchers. Maybe it's better to have five or six pitchers in the minors with the potential to be great than one dominant guy at the major league level.
I'm sure that's part of Jeff Luhnow and Co.'s thinking in collecting all those minor league arms, but Harvey's injury and its impact on the Mets future really drives that point home, doesn't it?