Posted on: September 21, 2009 4:08 pm
Cecil Cooper predicted that the Astros would win 90 games. They won't win 80.
If you're looking for a simple answer for why the Astros fired their manager today, there it is.
His expectations, and the team's, were high. Ridiculously high, if you asked most people in baseball.
But the questions on Cooper went farther than absurd predictions and unreasonable expectations, and the disconnect went farther than seeing a 75-win team as one that "should win 90 games, without question."
As pleasant as he could be to deal with, and as easy as he could be to quote, Cooper never seemed to earn the respect of his players. Even last year, when the Astros won 86 games and stayed on the fringes of the wild-card race until the final week of the season, the talk out of Houston was that the players would have preferred a change.
The Astros stuck with Cooper, and he said exactly what out-of-touch owner Drayton McLane loved to hear.
Like the 90-win prediction, delivered during a spring in which the Astros were losing game after game and looking like a team more likely to lose 110 than to win 90.
"I mean, c'mon, we've got what it takes," Cooper said, when the look on my face said I didn't believe they could win 90. "You're telling me we're not going to win that many games?"
They weren't going to win 90. They aren't going to win 90. They're 70-79 with 13 games left on the schedule, and third-base Dave Clark is going to manage those 13 games in Cooper's place.
Posted on: March 23, 2009 10:20 am
Edited on: March 23, 2009 1:38 pm
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros have been one of the least impressive teams in Florida this spring. They haven't won (4-16-3, even after three straight wins), and they haven't looked good, either.
You wouldn't know it by talking to manager Cecil Cooper.
"We should win 90 games, without question," Cooper said this morning. "We have a terrific bullpen. We have one of the best closers in the game. We've got the ace in the National League. We've got three of the best offensive players at their position. We've got, if not the best, then one of the top catchers in baseball.
"I mean, c'mon. We've got what it takes. You're telling me we're not going to win that many games?"
The Astros do have a top closer in Jose Valverde. They have Roy Oswalt atop their rotation. They have Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. Miguel Tejada can still hit, even if he's starting to look slow at shortstop. The Pudge Rodriguez signing can't hurt.
But 90 wins?
"He's not looking at the same pitching staff I am," said one scout who has followed the Astros this spring.
No one outside the Astros clubhouse is predicting 90 wins for this team. More people are predicting 90 losses.
"I've heard," Cooper said. "I don't care what they say. I've been with them everyday. I believe in what we have here. I do believe we'll win 90-plus."
Cooper's players agree with him.
"At least 90 games," first baseman Lance Berkman said. "We know what kind of team we have. I mean, why shouldn't we [win 90]? We won 86 last year, and we have a better team. This is the Houston Astros. We play better than we look on paper."
Posted on: August 5, 2008 3:06 pm
Baseball shouldn't take a chance with lightning. Period.
I was at Wrigley Field Monday night. I saw, heard and felt the lightning strike that ended the Cubs-Astros game. It scared me. It scared everyone.
"I understand that players don't want to be out there (at that point)," umpire crew chief Wally Bell said this morning. "I don't want to be out there."
I don't blame Bell for what happened. I'm not sure I blame the Cubs, either, even though I take issue with general manager Jim Hendry's explanation that "No one was hurt, so in this one, they made the right call."
No, it wasn't the right call, because someone easily could have been hurt.
Baseball has no lightning policy. Now would be a fine time to write one. When there's lightning in the area, when there's a tornado sighted 15 miles from the ballpark, stop the game. End the game.
"Think about it," Astros first baseman Lance Berkman said. "People get killed by lightning strikes all the time. It's not likely, but it's a heck of a lot more likely if you're standing outside in a lightning storm."
Berkman heard ex-teammate Craig Biggio talk many times about being on the field when a friend was killed by lightning. Maybe that's why Berkman had the most sensible reaction to what happened Monday.
"You've got to keep some perspective here," he said. "This is a baseball game and these games are important because teams are trying to make the playoffs and everybody understands that. But at the same time don't lose your mind. You got tornado sirens going off and severe weather all over the place. There's no reason for it. There's no reason to put fans at risk. There's no reason to put players at risk. You put umpires in a bad spot because everybody's like, 'Well, it's on them. They got to make the call.' "
Berkman's right. The key is to figure out a way to keep this from happening again -- and more important, to keep something worse from happening.
"Everybody was at risk," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "Everybody."
And it's not a good enough answer to say that no one got hurt.