In Bo Porter’s just-concluded first season as Astros manager the results on the field were disappointing, but at the same time the organization gained valuable information and insight into which players will be counted on in going forward to the 2014 season.
The 2013 season wasn’t pretty. The franchise lost a club-record 111 games and after Sunday’s 5-1 loss in 14 innings to the New York Yankees, the team ended its season on a franchise-record 15-game losing streak.
“I know a lot of people will look at the record, and they think that way about it,” said Porter. “We found out a lot about our organization. People may look at it as losing baseball games. I think we’re actually learning what it takes to win.”
The club also set a major league record for striking out the most in a season with 1,535, including 19 on Sunday.
It is a process. For the third consecutive year the Astros lost more than 100 games, and for the third consecutive year the club had the most losses in franchise history.
But the trade off is the farm system, where the team has been stock piling talent. The Astros had a franchise-high six minor league affiliates qualify for the 2013 playoffs. They’re the first organization with six domestic affiliates in the postseason since the Pirates in 2003.
The Astros’ combined minor league record of 476-360 (.569) this season was second best among all major league organizations. The Astros were last overall in 2010 and ’11.
Trades in recent years have brought promising young talent. The trading of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Lee netted players as Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Jonathan Villar, Brett Oberholtzer, Matt Dominguez, Robbie Grossman and Paul Clemens.
There were growing pains in 2013 as many of the Astros split time between the major leagues and Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Astros got a good, hard look at all the players that were brought up to the big club.
“We gave a lot of guys playing time so they could show us exactly what it is that they can bring to our ballclub,” said Porter. “I wouldn’t change going through this process at all. We had to go through this.
“We’re at the point where we’ve evaluated a majority of the players that we have. We have a good idea of the core pieces that we want to move forward with.”
Going into spring training Porter said the only position that was solidified was second base with Jose Altuve manning the position. During the 2013 season catcher Jason Castro emerged, making the All-Star team, and Dominguez established himself at third base.
On the pitching side, Cosart, Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock showed they’re viable options for the starting rotation next season.
Porter was named the 17th manager in franchise history on Sept. 17, 2012, having spent the previous two seasons as third base coach for the Washington Nationals. The 41-year-old Porter understood this season would be a rebuilding season, and a year to evaluate.
“I pretty much prepared for anything,” said Porter. “Would I have predicted that we would only win 51 games? No I would not have predicted that. But at the same time I knew what I had signed up for from a standpoint of we had to go through this process to get to where it is we’re trying to go.”