How Bo Porter’s new gig will impact the Nationals (updated with Rizzo statement)

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals’ players and the bulk of their coaching staff will spend the morning and early afternoon resting up from last night’s exciting 8-4 win over the Phillies and gearing up for tonight’s series finale.

One guy will have a slightly busier day on his hands.

Nats third base coach Bo Porter will be named the new Astros manager in a press conference late this morning. Porter will be likely (or should I say, likely already has been) flown out to Houston to meet with the media, then will come back to Philadelphia for tonight’s game.

What does the Porter news mean for the Nationals, you ask?

This season, not much at all. Porter is expected to be in the third base coach’s box at Citizens Bank Park tonight and will remain in his current role through the rest of the season. He wouldn’t have taken the Astros’ job now unless it was OK with their ownership that he play things out the rest of this season with the Nats.

It might be a little strange that the Nationals will have a coach in on their intricate playoff planning who they know will be with another team by early November at the latest, but they’ll live with that.

In the bigger picture, this eliminates one future candidate to replace Davey Johnson once he eventually steps aside as Nationals manager.

GM Mike Rizzo has said that he hopes to have Johnson remain as the Nats’ manager next season, and Johnson is clearly open to the idea. He’s having a blast being back at the helm of a major league team and loving the group of players he has currently, and he has been a big factor in both managing the personalities in the clubhouse and getting younger guys to play to their potential.

Johnson won’t yet discuss in definite terms whether he’ll be back next season, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him return.

Is it possible that information led Porter to pursue the Astros’ job instead of waiting around at least another year to see if the Nationals’ managerial job did open up? It’s possible, but unlikely. Porter has never previously managed at the big league level, and it’s hard to see him turning down that opportunity just for a chance at a job which might not even be vacant in a year.

Once Johnson does step aside, the Nats hope to replace him with an in-house option. Porter was considered one of the names towards the top of the list, but now that list contains the names of bench coach Randy Knorr, first base coach Trent Jewett and Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, among others.

The timing of Porter’s hire is a bit strange given that he’ll be solely focused on his duties with the Nationals - coaching third base, managing the baserunning and instructing the outfielders - until their postseason run ends. Then he’ll turn his attention to rebuilding an Astros team, which his current team beat up on pretty good this season.

Update: So apparently Porter isn’t in Houston for today’s press conference. The Astros have announced him as their manager ... but Porter is still in Philadelphia.

Which begs the question: Why even bother making the announcement at all at this point? What good is a news conference announcing a new manager if the new manager isn’t there to answer questions and tell the fans what they can expect to see in the future?

Weird stuff.

Update II: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has issued a statement on the Astros hiring of Porter:

“Bo Porter joined our staff in 2011 to instruct and coach our young players in how to play the game right, and in how to win. He has been invaluable to us and our drive toward our first postseason. Despite his obvious value, we allowed and encouraged Bo to meet with his hometown Houston Astros to pursue his dream to manage in the major leagues. He is smart, talented, and as fiery a competitor as there is in the game today. Bo will always be a member of the Nationals family, and we wish him every success with the Astros.”

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