“Houston We Have A Problem”

Steve O Speak

The Houston Astros yesterday decided to ax their manager Cecil Cooper with 13 games remaining. This seems like a bizarre move to make considering the timing, and speaks to a bigger issue of the state of the Astros organization. I don’t understand the objective of firing a manager with 13 games remaining when, you’ve already been eliminated from the playoffs. Its not as if thats enough time to showcase some coach in your organization to take the reins next year. Now third base coach Dave Clark takes over, and now has 13 12 games to prove himself (lost 7-3 in his debut) worthy of a managing position.

Look I am not going to try to argue that Cooper was some amazing manager, and will lead some other team to a pennant. The Astros were bad this year, and needed to move on to another manager in the offseason. Firing him now is just petty, and disrespectful to him and the team. Should the Astros organization really be throwing Cooper under the bus for his 70-79 record this year? Did anyone outside of Houston really think the Astros were going to contend this year? I mean they had five good hitters, a good closer, and Roy Oswalt as their staff ace. The rest of their pitching staff was in shambles, Wandy Rodriguez was good number two (and the only reason they have 70 wins this year), but the back of the rotation was awful. There is no reason to expect to contend when you give Brian Moehler, Mike Hampton, and Russ Ortiz a combined 60+ starts in a season. That is over a third of the season you are putting in the hands of three guys, who would be lucky to make it as most teams’ 5th starter.

There is no reason to fire a guy with only two weeks to go in the season, unless you are still in the playoff race or there was some off the field incident. What kind of message does that even send to a team? If there was an issue the Astros shouldn’t have picked up Cooper’s option for 2010 back in the spring. If they wanted to get this team on the right track they should have made the move in late July/early August when the team was “theoretically” still in the playoff race, but falling fast. Also the Owner talking about how there is a $100 million dollar payroll with nothing to show for it. That is a ridiculous assertion, by Drayton McLane. Mr. McLane you got exactly what you paid for, your highest paid players were by an large your best players, the fact that you overpaid them, or structured their contract poorly isn’t Cooper’s fault. You also have ignored spending money on the draft in recent years, leaving you with the worst farm system in the Majors. The Astros organization should have tried rebuilding two years ago, but instead they made bad trades, and ill advised signings. Now they have an expensive, veteran team that is under performing and they have no minor league depth to supplement them/replace them.  Houston needs to wake up to the reality that we are in 2009 not 2005. They are not the same team that challenged for the fall classic in the early part of the decade. They need to blow up this team, otherwise they will be left in the cellar as the Pirates and Reds leap frog them in the standings. Before they rebuild the team, they should work on their image, and not throw their manager to the wolves for a bad season that the front office and ownership is to blame.

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