The Houston Astros were, at one point, on pace to lose 112 games. Think of a 100-loss team. Now think of a team 12 games worse than that. Eleven games is what separates the Tigers and Royals, for example. The difference between the Tigers and Royals is about the same as the difference between a 100-loss team and what the Astros were on pace for.
Since then, though, the Astros have done a lot better, with a winning record (8-7) in September. They're stuck on 99 losses, but at least they aren't charging toward history. And they're enjoying this modest success with an interim manager, Tony DeFrancesco, who took over for Brad Mills in the middle of August.
Luhnow said experience as a major league manager "is a plus, but when you look at the ledger, there are a bunch of things that are pluses. It’s not a must-have. … We’re not going to shy away from taking an up-and-coming rising star just because he hasn’t managed."
So far, the Astros have interviewed the following candidates along with DeFrancesco:
- Former Padres and Phillies manager Larry Bowa
- Red Sox bench coach (and former Greeneville Astros manager) Tim Bogar
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez
- Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter
It's a wide swath of candidates, with the old-schoolery of Bowa matching up against the Maddon-mentored Martinez. And while the Astros are likely to be dreadful next year, too, don't forget the lesson of the 2003 Tigers. This could be the manager who's around for a potential turnaround, so this isn't just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.