NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Astros director of media relations Gene Dias whisked new manager Bo Porter around the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center on Tuesday afternoon, putting him in front of as many cameras and microphones as possible.
Everyone knows the Astros, who are rebuilding as they prepare to make a highly-anticipated move to the American League next year, have a long road ahead of them, but they believe they've found a manager in Porter who will one day guide the team into the playoffs.
For now, the Astros are taking baby steps, and Porter's message was the club is on the right track. Houston followed up a 106-loss campaign in 2011 with a franchise-record 107 losses last season, but the club is hinging its future on an increasingly improving Minor League system.
"You can't worry about the end result so much, you have to worry more about the portion that you can control, which is the process," Porter said. "We will spend the entire spring, the entire season, each and every game, [to] take stock of teachable moments because we have a young ballclub and we want them to understand that this is the Major Leagues and you're in the Major Leagues because we believe you are a Major League player."
Even if the Astros improve their club for next year -- general manager Jeff Luhnow hinted Tuesday the team could be close to acquiring a player -- the move to the rugged AL West could mean the results in the win-loss column aren't indicative of the strides made.
The Rangers, who won the AL pennant in 2010-11, have had their way with the Astros in Interleague Play the last few years. The A's made the playoffs last season, and the Angels -- who feature longtime Astros nemesis Albert Pujols -- are a perennial playoff contender. Even the Mariners are on the come.
"You look at the fact that, obviously, Texas, all the success which they've had over the last few years, and you look at the Oakland A's," Porter said. "Oakland has some very smart people over there, they made some good trades, they acquired the right players. Yes, they are young, but they also added the right veteran players to that young group, and that's something that we look at in Houston.
"We have a good group of core players that are young, we're trying to make sure we can add the right young pieces to go with our core."
Porter has dissected some of the Astros games from last season and believes the team is capable of playing better fundamentals. But it's hard to quantify what kind of difference that could make in the win-loss column.
"From a fundamental standpoint, whenever you allow the other team -- whether it's an extra base or an extra out -- that has a huge effect on the ballgame," Porter said.
Some of the Astros' top prospects are expected to begin making an impact at the Major League level this year, led by first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Jarred Cosart. They'll both be competing for spots in a camp that should be filled with competitions.
"Well, one of the good things about where we're at as an organization is the fact that you don't have established players all around the diamond," Porter said. "You create a camp where guys feel like, 'You know what, there is opportunity here,' and you want to see who's going to step forward and grab the bull by the horns and take the opportunity and run with it. Age is not something that will deter us from keeping a guy if he's going to help the ballclub win games."