Pretty startling blog from sunshine-and-rainbows Richard Justice today, joining JJO in the "uh-oh" category of covering the Astros. An excerpt:
I hadn't been around the club since the beginning of the season and was stunned by the toxic atmosphere when I returned this week. Some of it surely stems from losing. Winning cures almost everything. However, some of it stems from a general lack of confidence in Cecil Cooper. There's a general feeling that he's not very good at what he does and that he's too stubborn to lean on his coaches for advice.
He's once more doing a really good imitation of the angriest man in America. I'm not sure where this anger comes from. I didn't know him before he became manager, so maybe he has been angry his entire life. I just don't know.
I do think the players have legitimate reasons to complain. He's not a great communicator or strategist.
Which leads me to wonder: If that's true, that Cooper isn't so much with the "communication" and "strategy," then that's obviously a problem. However, and Justice does say this, the boss is an easy target. Scott Rolen hated Tony LaRussa so much that they had someone in between them to relay messages. I don't know what kind of communicator LaRussa is, but the strategy aspect is indisputable. He bats the pitcher 8th - sometimes. He's responsible - for better or worse - for the situational reliever.
Is Coop to blame for the 09 Astros? Not solely, but if there's a patchwork plan going on until Bobby Heck and Ed Wade get the farm system in order, then something will have to be done to restore some faith in the direction of the team - this year and the next.