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Bo Porter fired: Astros manager not a victim, but a casualty of the rebuild

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Ignore the noise. This was inevitable.

Bob Levey

It's already starting. The senators approached. Brian T. Smith had a lean and hungry look.

Houston's favorite football writer who's an expert on baseball because he spent half a season on the beat fired the opening shots in what should be a continued cacophony of calls for Jeff Luhnow's job.

Let me play out the narrative you'll hear over the next few hours.

Bo Porter got unfairly blamed.

The GM who fired him should be gone instead.

Crane picked Luhnow over Porter. He better be right.

How could Porter win with such a crappy team?

This will dominate the headlines. We'll see writers across the spectrum weigh in with opinions. Given that a number of sources from the Houston Chronicle (that'd be Houston's only mainstream media outlet, which largely drives perception about the teams it covers) will blast the Astros for this. You can guess who they might be already.

But, that's not important. The question of whether Bo Porter took the fall for organizational misfires is where we need to look.

It's simple. Bo Porter was going to be fired the day he took the job. There was no silver lining to this job for Porter. Managers who lose 100 games don't last long in baseball, no matter what team they've been given. It was assumed that Porter had the front office's backing and that he'd stay despite the losses.

That's because this rebuild was part of the plan. The Astros knew they'd lose and lose and lose. Jim Crane signed off on that when he hired Jeff Luhnow, who should have probably conveyed that to Bo Porter.

Yet, the Astros continued to underachieve. They lost more games last season than they expected for many reasons, but they still dropped 15 straight to end the year. They had expectations (unfair, though they may be) to get to .500 this season and have fallen short of that.

Who's fault is that?

Is it the guy picking the players?

Is it the guy tasked with getting the most out of those players?

Yes and yes. Both Luhnow and Porter are to blame for this year's record. Luhnow has overseen many more losses than wins in his three seasons at the helm of this team. The Astros have improved, but have they improved by enough?

Chris Carter finally broke out. Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh did too.

Yet, a troubling toxicity existed in the clubhouse. Don't let anyone fool you, though. It existed before Bo Porter came to town. It existed back in 2012 when Lucas Harrell complained in the clubhouse about the four-man rotation. It continued last summer when Bud Norris and Harrell continued to complain. It happened in 2012 when veteran players complained to Craig Biggio in the clubhouse about the lack of veteran support to lead a young ballclub.

There have also been plenty of rumors that Porter couldn't fill out his own lineup, that the front office told him who to play and he had to go along with it. If that's the case, who gets the blame for all those losses? What is Porter's job? Maybe it's to keep the clubhouse focused on the same goal, not to create strife within the organization.

This has been going on for a while now. It's not new.

So, does that put the timing into context? Was this about Bo Porter's insubordination with Luhnow rising to new levels over the weekend? Was it about someone leaking sources past the Chronicle to the national media to draw attention to the situation?

Or, was it really about changing the entitled air in the clubhouse? Put the Appel Bullpen stuff into this box, too. Put the comments Jarred Cosart continues to spit out into this box as well.

Something had to change. Turned out that change was Porter and Trembley leaving the past behind.

Porter was never sticking around a long time. If he had, it would have been news. Now? Inevitability finally caught up with him. That's not as fun a narrative, but it's probably the right one.