PHILADELPHIA — Nationals third base coach Bo Porter was named the next manager of the Houston Astros on Thursday morning, a bittersweet day for the Nationals as they’ll lose an integral member of their staff.
Here’s what Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and Bo Porter had to say about the news:
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo
On why he allowed Porter to interview and accept a job with another organization while under contract with the Nationals: “It’s the fair thing to do. I would never stand in anybody’s way to get the dream job of their life, in your hometown, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say ‘Wait till after the season’ and then them go on their interview process and hire somebody else. That would be selfish of me and I wouldn’t do it.”
On who the next third base coach might be: “We haven’t even begun to think about that yet. Bo’s going to be here until we’re done playing and we’ll have a ton of time to think about that.”
On if the Nationals viewed Porter as a managerial prospect for themselves in the future: “The plan was that we brought him in here and he was a manager prospect. We tried to surround Davey with as many manager prospects as possible so he could mentor them and so hopefully we have good internal candidates if and when we need to make a decision on that.
“Yeah, he’s a managerial candidate (for us), but I’m not disappointed. I’m really happy for Bo because there’s only 30 of these jobs in the world. To have one in your hometown, to have the autonomy and authority to start it from the ground up, I think he’ll be great at it. We lost a good team member, a good family member and a guy that we’ll miss.”
Nationals manager Davey Johnson
On his reaction to the news: “He’s a good man. I’m happy for him. I mean I hate to lose him. He’s a big part of our success here and he’s a really good baseball man but it’s a great opportunity for him. It’s going to be a good challenge and I think he’s the right man for the job.
On if he’ll talk with him about keeping his focus on the Nationals for now: “He’s fine. I talked to him about it and he knows what our focus is and he’s all in. He’ll have plenty of time to think about managing the Astros. It’ll be on his mind, now he knows what it’s like to be up all night thinking about what he’s thinking about.
On if he’ll give him some advice: “I talked to him. I said ‘So many great things. You’re a good judge of talent. You go in there and make good decisions and in a very short time you’ll be making progress and everybody will be happy.’ But when you take a last place club your expectations aren’t very great, but when you show improvement year to year, which I’m sure he will, it’s a great challenge, and an ideal situation. He’s lucky. He can sleep in his own bed. That’s a wonderful opportunity for him.”
On why Porter will make a good manager: “I have conversations with all my coaches about what they think about certain players, what they think in certain situations and then why do you think that? All his answers have been right on the money for me. Maybe it’s because, he doesn’t know it, but he’s agreeing with what he’s thinking. That’s my measuring stick.
On if he takes some pride in one of his staff being selected by another team: “Well, yes and no. Yes, I mean, we’re having some success this year, we’ve come a long way in a very short time and so he knows the feeling and he knows how it was done. It was done through some good coaching and some patience and some good talent.
“No in the fact that he’s not going to be here with me. But I think anytime you get any job in the big leagues to manage it’s a wonderful challenge. As baseball players you’re only as good as your last at-bat, the last game you played, that’s the beauty of managing. Every season, every day is important. But I really like his evaluation on talent. He’s a good people person, I think he’s a perfect fit.”
On the next third base coach possibly coming from within: “Whenever I took a new job I always wanted people in the organization because they already knew the talent, knew a lot about the makeup, because they were in the organization. This is a fine organization, got a lot of quality coaches and we have a lot of people that I think highly of in our system. I don’t think that will be a problem. Obviously not just as a third base coach but his coaching duties were outfield and baserunning so, that kind of, we’ll look over the people who that’s their expertise.”
Nationals third base coach (and Astros manager) Bo Porter
On his emotions on this day: “I think I was okay until I talked to my wife. She kind of broke down. It was obviously very emotional for her, being from Houston, her hometown. When I heard her break down on the phone, it really hit me like, ‘Wow.’ It was good. It’s a good feeling. There’s only 30 of these jobs. Whenever you get an opportunity to be named the manager, it’s always exciting. With the cherry on top, it’s in my hometown. And I’m excited about it.”
On the interview process: “Since the interview process on the 13th, we had been in communication. They actually had Mike Elias flew into D.C. on Saturday. Him and I went out to dinner. We talked extensively about the scouting department and all the different changes that had been taking place in the organization. They were able to answer a lot of my questions. I was able to answer a lot of their questions. Things got more intensified… They flew in yesterday morning. We sat down and hashed out the final details of everything and were able to get it done.”
On how he can help turn things around in Houston: “A lot of times, people look at losses in the loss column. But a lot of times you’re learning how to win. You look at the job in which Jeff Lunhow and the scouting department, they’ve turned the roster over. They’ve traded proven major league players, brought in a lot of talent. When you start talking about the wins and losses and the number of wins and losses, more importantly for me is, everybody wants to win. That’s the desired result. But at the end of the day, you have to take care of the process, which is all the things in between. At the end of the day, if you take care of the process, you’ll get the desired results.”
On the Nationals allowing him to go through this process while still in the midst of the season: “For that, you really do have to thank Mike Rizzo and the Lerner family. When Houston contacted them, it’s a very different situation with us being in the playoffs. Houston did not want to wait. They didn’t want to wait until the end of the season, and now you have four or five jobs open, and now they’re competing with the rest of the pool. From my understanding, they had me earmarked. They knew that I was one of the top guys on their list. They didn’t want to run the risk of us taking a deep run into the playoffs and them not getting a chance to talk to me, and then trying to make that decision without talking to a guy that was top on their list.”
On if it’ll be a challenge for him to keep his focus here: “ No. That’s why we’re doing this all today. This is the last time in which I will talk about this here topic. My focus is on the Washington Nationals and our quest to win the World Series title. I wanted to get everybody together this one last time. Everybody get their questions out. I’ll answer the questions. I don’t want this to be anything that distracts from what we’re doing here. We have a chance to really do something special. The guys in the clubhouse, they know that I’m committed. Davey Johnson, the rest of the coaching staff, Mike Rizzo, the Lerner family, they know that I’m committed to what we have going on here. They know I’m committed to what we’re doing here.”
On if it’s been tough to do that with all of this going on: “No. I’m good at multi-tasking, anyway. I’ve been down this road before. I’ve interviewed for jobs. I interviewed for the Miami Marlins job in June of the season in which I was in Arizona. I’ve been down that road, and I know how to process work. I credit the Houston Astros for being aggressive and really going after the guy they wanted to obtain. It was a good process.”
On Davey Johnson’s influence on him: “Well it’s been awesome. Davey has been a huge mentor for me. We bounced things off each other, from lineup construction to in-game strategy. He has been basically a Godsend for me. The amount of responsibility which he placed on me has helped me in my preparation for the job of manager of the Houston Astros. For that I thank him.”
On when he realized Houston was a good fit: “Well, you look at the fact it’s a lot of young players, and when you come into a situation where you possess a lot of skill sets that I possess as far as my leadership ability, my ability to get the most out of players, it’s a situation where you kind of get to mold it your way. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge I accept and I’m excited about it.”
On if there was anything about this process that made him more confident than in the past: “I think they were a little more aggressive. As you go through the interview process, sometimes you get the sense that you may be the guy or you may not be the guy, or they’re really thinking about someone else and if that person doesn’t pan out, maybe they’ll fall back on you. Every indication that I received from them, from the initial contact all the way to us coming to an agreement was that I was the guy they targeted.”
On how much he’ll miss D.C.: “Oh boy, that goes without saying. The relationships that I’ve developed here with the coaching staff, the front office, the Lerner family, all of our players, it’s something that probably won’t hit me until I get home this offseason. But I will miss them tremendously. Right now all I really want for Christmas is one thing: a World Series ring.”
On what the Astros expect from him: “Well, you always have expectations. I think any place where you don’t have expectations, you’re looking at failure in the face. From the onset, Jim Crane has stated that he wants to build this organization through the draft, through the farm system and he wanted to be in contention to win a world championship. So that right there is a vision of the organization, and we will carry that vision from Day One. You don’t start something with one vision and then mid-stream you change course and go OK, now we’re ready to win. No, you’re ready to win from Day One.”