Now Cecil Cooper is publicly calling out Roy Oswalt, and the wheels have pretty much come off. There were errors on Monday and baserunning mistakes on Tuesday. In between, Cooper called a team meeting that did absolutely nothing.
His players seem to have little respect for him, and whatever he says is irrelevant. I don't know if it's his oddball strategic decisions or how he uses the bullpen or his personality.
There was a team meeting last year in which some veteran players believe Cooper wasn't honest. He laid down a new policy about players staying out of the clubhouse during batting practice, and when challenged, he said it was GM Ed Wade's idea. It wasn't.
I thought what Coop said about Roy was on odd quote. I really did. But I didn't want to make too much of it.
But let's read it again, in the context through which Mr. Justice sends it:
When a manager calls out a star the way Cooper did Tuesday, players take note. They begin to think the manager supports them only as long as they're doing great. When things go south, the manager won't be there.
"You have to ask Roy." Cooper said. "I have no idea. Ask Roy."
Then Cooper refers to the lost leads and says: "... we let two leads slip away there. We just need him to step up to be who he's supposed to be."
Is he telling the truth? Sure he is.
Is he doing himself any favors in the clubhouse or with Oswalt? No, he's not.
And he doesn't seem to be in favor of retaining Cooper:
There may be some tweaking from the minor leagues, but not a single guy at that level is really pushing for a place in the big leagues. There's so much wrong with the Astros that the only thing Wade can do is sit on his hands and hope that his spring decisions end up being better than they look at the moment.
However, the last couple of days seem to have made a growing problem worse. Mental mistakes, baserunning mistakes and errors are inexcusable. Fixing those things is a must, and if it takes a new manager to refocus the clubhouse, so be it.
It's gut-wrenching to advocate firing someone, especially when it's obvious that many others are way more responsible for creating this mess. Will changing managers suddenly fix the bullpen, get Berkman and Oswalt straightened out and make the Astros respectable? Of course not. But it's at least worth discussing.
Look, a Reds fan told me the same thing we discussed here - if Cooper gets fired six weeks after getting an extension - no one is going to want to manage here, unless we're talking about another first-time manager.