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September 28, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Astros Try Bo

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

National League

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-L Adam Greenberg to a one-day deal. [9/27]

Jeffery Loria is a businessman; the Marlins operate within a bubble, impervious to outside reaction or perception. Those two statements are true more often than not. In this instance, however, Loria is running a business and catering to the public’s sensibilities.

Greenberg’s story has garnered attention for a few years now. The quick version goes like this: an errant pitch struck Greenberg in the head in his first, and to-date, only, big-league plate appearance. He’s since dealt with the nasty repercussions that come with being hit in the head by a high-velocity projectile, all the while attempting to reach the majors again.

Greenberg will get a second chance at a first hit on Tuesday night, as the Marlins continue to remind folks. Signing Greenberg and giving him a plate appearance is a public relations stunt, and a good one—kudos to Greenberg, for his perseverance, and to the Marlins, for capitalizing on it.

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Announced Bo Porter would become their new manager. [9/27]

Give the Astros credit for using their time wisely. Houston fired Brad Mills, interviewed replacement candidates, and hired its pick within a five-week span. As odd as it may seem for a team to hire its new manager during the current season, Houston was able to skim the hiring pool unimpeded. With other teams with potential openings, like Miami, reportedly considering Porter, the Astros were smart to act quickly.

Why is Porter, currently the Nationals' third-base coach, a hot managerial commodity? His communication skills—perhaps the most important attribute for a manager to own—receive plenty of praise. Porter carries himself in a confident manner, yet seems open to new ideas. In an interview with David Laurila, Porter said, amongst other things, “Sometimes managers don’t shift because they don’t want to give up a portion of the field. But why not give up a portion of the field if the probability of the ball being hit there is one percent?”

As solid as Porter appears on paper, the probability of his clubs finishing at the bottom of the league during these next few seasons is greater than 1 percent. Houston is still in the early stages of a top-down rebuild. Will the Jeff Luhnow-Porter tandem live up to its potential? We don’t know. But they should have plenty of time to figure it out.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Announced general manager Neal Huntington would return. [9/26]

Not making a change is news, too.

If the Huntington-led Pirates have two weaknesses, they are poorly timed leaks and second-half collapses. Huntington, who signed a contract extension through the 2014 season last September, returns on the heels of a mini-controversy involving a released email from his assistant general manager. This isn’t the first time a leak has burned the Pirates: back in winter 2009, Huntington indicated that Matt Capps’ trade value disappeared once someone in the org told the media he would be non-tendered.

None of which would make a difference to Huntington’s job security, if the Pirates were able to produce a decent second half in either of the past two years. Instead, the Pirates have won just 37 percent of their second-half games, compared to 54 percent of their first-half games. Some of it is just random fluctuation, but that’s never stopped a manager or general manager from losing his job before.

Under Huntington, the Pirates have extended a number of young talents and seemingly drafted better than in the past, although that determination is not complete just yet. They’ve held playoff aspirations in back-to-back years, too. At some point you have to finish the job. It’s impossible to know whether another losing season will end Huntington’s reign in Pittsburgh. But it surely won’t help extend it.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Adam Greenberg,  Bo Porter,  Neal Huntington

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