Monday, August 24, 2009

Justice brings the pain again

Richard Justice has been accused more than once of being a flip-flopper on the Astros, swaying which ever way the wind blows. He brought the pain last Wednesday. And has decided to bring it again.

Tough not to flip-flop on a team that has had stretches of 19-29, 31-17, 6-15 and now 5-1. At times, the Astros look like they've had a special something, veteran leadership, etc., that would overcome their weaknesses.

What hasn't changed is that they've been a bad offensive team, a really stupid baserunning team, a team that's poorly managed and a team that has had stretches of very good pitching.

There's no one area of this team that has been really good. If you're going to have a $108-million payroll, if you're going to build around old guys, you'd better make the playoffs because you're certainly not building anything for the future.

The biggest problem with the Astros seems to be an inability to critically evaluate themselves, or at least an inability to handle the truth. That inability begins with you-know-who.

Here's something else. Let's say they miss the playoffs by, oh, six games. There are players convinced that the manager cost them six games. Even Coop's most loyal defenders would admit that he runs a game without any consistency and sometimes without any reasonable explanation for his moves.

That said, he does seem to have worked harder at his relationship with players. I've seen him have lengthy conversations with Pudge Rodriguez, Mike Hampton and Miguel Tejada the last few weeks.

I've come to like the guy. I think he's a decent man. I just think he wasn't cut out to manage a major league baseball team....

...Drayton, Tal and Ed were aware of the disconnect between the players and manager, and I don't know why they allowed the problem to worsen. There have been times when I've been convinced Coop was on the verge of being fired based on conversation with people in management.

I'm not sure if he was or not, or if I simply was reading the tea leaves incorrectly. Regardless, about the time it seemed something would happen, the Astros would take off again, and management wasn't going to fire Coop with the club playing well.

Listening to players privately complain about his every move has gotten old. Why did the Astros allow it to go on?

Did they notice the ``Really?'' t-shirts some players are wearing. ``Really?'' as in, ``Really? Did that just happen? Really?''

At this point, either the players or the manager has to go. One could argue that if the Astros believe Cecil Cooper is the right guy to manage the team today, then he's the right guy to manage the team in 2010.

If these guys fire him now, they'll be admitting they gave up on the 2009 season because they didn't have the guts to confront a problem. That's leadership? Really?

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