Bo Porter

Bo Porter fired by the Astros

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A couple of days ago Ken Rosenthal reported that there was serious tension between Astros manager Bo Porter and general manager Jeff Luhnow. I guess “tension” was an understatement, because Bo Porter has been fired.

In addition to Porter, bench coach Dave Trembley has been fired as well. The Astros have named minor league manager and longtime coach and player Tom Lawless as the interim manager. There will be a press conference at 2pm Central time. In the meantime, Luhnow has released a statement, which reads in part:

“Bo’s passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned. This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.

The rest of the statement can be read in Evan Drellich’s story at the Houston Chronicle. In it Luhnow clearly implies that the firing was based on communication and disagreements with Porter and/or Porter’s alleged deficiencies in dealing with the team’s young talent. Of course, given that Porter and Luhnow have been reported to have huge disagreements about things, it’s quite possible Porter has another story.

Porter probably had no chance from the get-go. The Astros were a total tear-down job and they were, as Luhnow’s statement suggests, set up to lose. While Porter theoretically had a long leash as a result, it’s hard to think of any other situations in baseball history where the caretaker manager during a rebuild was around by the time the team was competitive. And the Astros’ rebuild has been a longer-than-usual process with some time still left before the team can reasonably be expected to win. Even if there weren’t tensions here, Porter would’ve probably been replaced eventually.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.