This is your lot, Cecil Cooper. Your two best players, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, showed signs of getting older – missing time and underperforming. Your shortstop is older than people were told and no longer is a force at the plate, and your starting catcher had played in more games than anyone in baseball history – then he was sent packing. The rotation is patchwork at best, featuring one guy who may hold the record for DL trips (Mike Hampton) and a third starter who barely reaches 80 with his fastball and is only marginally tolerable (Brian Moehler). Your fifth starter is 2 – 11 (Felipe Paulino – not to be confused with Fausto Carmona, but they have similar stats). There are a couple of guys who aren’t half bad – Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee – but the bench slots are filled with people who probably can’t hit as well as you, Cecil. Guys like Darin Erstad. And Cooper hasn’t played in more than 20 years.
Through August, however, your team has hovered at the fringe of the race – sometimes a little above .500, sometimes a little below. This isn’t a disappointment – like the Cubs – but probably a pleasant surprise. I know lots of people who thought that, after spring training, Houston would finish with 100 losses and finish below Pittsburgh.
And now, Cecil Cooper has been fired. Well, it wasn’t entirely your fault your team has no depth, no prospects, and gave away the catcher who, while he can’t hit, was keeping the pitching staff in games. I mean, Wandy Rodriguez came into his own this year. But you can’t take credit for that anymore either. Reading the articles, the owner and GM felt that a team with a $103 million payroll should be better. And, some of the players, like Berkman, felt responsible for Cooper’s firing. And, to read it in Houston, the players no longer respected Cooper – not liking his style, and thinking that he didn’t handle game situations well. Some writers in Houston think that his firing was inevitable, that he had no chance, but he deserved to be fired. I think Ed Wade needs to be fired, too – he put this team together. Cooper held it together, until too many pieces fell apart – and there weren’t players on the farm who could step up and contribute. I mean, Russ Ortiz as a starter? He hasn’t been good since 2004. Maybe Dave Clark, the interim manager, will get a shot. Not that Dave Clark had any more experience as a MLB manager than Cooper. Either that, or Willie Randolph can get a shot at redemption.
Whomever gets the job next year is going to be lucky to win 70 games. Cooper had done that. [ESPN/SI/MLB/Houston Chronicle]
Well – there’s no manager’s union for things like this. However, when a player is a problem, thank God the MLB Players Association can step in and defend him. Word is out that the MLBPA will file a grievance on behalf of Milton Bradley. Guys – this is money well spent.
The Twins won last night, cutting the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central to just 2-1/2 games, but they will likely play a few games without outfielder Denard Span, who was beaned in the head last night. Span felt soreness and a bit of dizziness, and is day-to-day.
Now, if the Twins catch the Tigers and the season ends in a tie, the challenge might be finding a place to play. The Vikings hosts Green Bay in a Monday Night game, which is when the Twins would host the Tigers in a one-game playoff. There may be nothing to worry about, but you never know. MLB and NFL representatives will have to work out the details. [ESPN]
Sometimes a slump is fixed based on who you play – and last night Kevin Millwood easily handled Oakland to get a win and lock up his contract for next season. Of course, Oakland’s cleanup hitter is Kurt Suzuki and Bobby Crosby plays first base – so facing the A’s didn’t hurt… [MLB]
Giants infielder Freddy Sanchez twisted his knee – the same knee that was bothering him when San Francisco acquired Sanchez from Pittsburgh. He’s out for now, but may be available by the end of the week.
Hurry Back! Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa (left groin strain) went on the 60-day DL.
Welcome Back! Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson returns from the DL.
Afterthoughts… Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban defector, has established residency in Andorra, and hopes to sign a contract that will allow him to play for somebody in 2010. Chapman chose a non-US location so as not to be part of the MLB Draft, which would make him a free agent and available to the highest bidder. (Boston? New York? Los Angeles? I find it hard to believe he’d be a Marlin, but there are tons of former Cubans there…) Chapman throws 100+, which is why he’s trying to be a free agent. And, Andorra is kind of a playground for the rich families of Europe – and his agent hopes that Chapman may one day join them… [ESPN]