Between a general manager instituting a revolutionary rebuilding process and a manager who has often been described as "old school," the fact that there may be some tension between GM Jeff Luhnow and manager Bo Porter should come as no surprise to anyone. The fact that it is starting to seep out of the walls of Minute Maid Park and into the public, though, is certainly a new development.
But when you consider the immensity of what is being attempted in Houston, dumping Luhnow after three seasons would be a grave misstep, adding several more years to what was a massive undertaking.
There have been complications along the way; the Mark Appel Incident stands out, as does the inability to sign Brady Aiken. The ongoing controversy between Bo Porter's managerial style and Jeff Luhnow's administrative policies is a growing source of tension, and the front office would be behooved to make a decision at the end of the season as to which one goes and which one stays. Luhnow remaining the team's general manager is the obvious choice to make.
You don't even have to go back two decades to find the last instance of GM/manager feather ruffling as a result of disagreements regarding personnel decisions and on-field philosophy. It happened 1,900 miles away in Oakland, when general manager Billy Beane went through a similar period of professional courtesy with manager Art Howe. Despite their longstanding working relationship, the tensions between the two are well-documented.
If Houston is intent upon pursuing a new course, in an effort to marry advanced metrics with conventional scouting, then Luhnow is more important to the franchise than any manager, whose on-field decisions have little effect, and whose primary role is to manage team chemistry ahead of making proper baseball decisions.
And despite the Brady Aiken saga, it is important to remember that the Astros still have a deep farm system, with six players on Baseball America's Pre-Season Top 100. They recoup a draft pick for not signing Aiken, so this year's mistake could be next year's big success. If Dayton Moore is given eight years to try and bring a beleaguered franchise from the depths of pernicious mediocrity to the doorstep of a possible playoff berth, Luhnow can at least be afforded a modest amount of time to see if the programs and policies he is implementing will result in on-field talent.
In terms of this franchise moving forward, there really is only one decision to make, and with all due respect to Bo Porter, who by all accounts has a tremendous personality and is a great clubhouse guy, it isn't him. If Houston wants to keep tracking towards the dawn of a new era, it isn't going to be Porter that gets them there.