Hey, at least SI tried to leave a voicemail, which is more than I have done:
Cooper did not answer calls to his cell phone and his voicemail was full.
And Ted Keith's article doesn't give Coop's replacement much of a chance, either. Regard:
Cooper's dismissal is not surprising but it is instructive, just another example of the hot-coal walk that is managing in the big leagues. Even if you make it across to the other side, you're bound to get burned, and Cooper was. Burned by a poorly constructed team that never had a real chance to compete in its division. Burned by financial limitations that kept the Astros from being a player in the free-agent market. And burned, most significantly, by a clubhouse that included several players, it's been reported, who either didn't respect him or his decisions as a manger.
Note: We'll assume that Keith meant "manager," and not the structure in which our Lord and Savior was born. Please continue.
If Cooper was not necessarily a great fit, neither was this team. The Astros are old and it shows. They have only two position players younger than 29, and when veterans like Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman stopped producing as they did in their prime, their offense was rendered largely punchless. The pitching staff is in a similar spot. Wandy Rodriguez has turned in a fine season, but aside from him and Roy Oswalt, the Astros don't have a single starter with either a winning record, an ERA below 4.80 or even 100 strikeouts. Their payroll is north of $100 million, but they don't have much to show for it...
...Both Oswalt and Berkman have started talking openly about retirement and Jose Valverde, their quality closer, will be a free agent at year's end and may not return. That means the burden for next season and beyond rests more with the front office, and whether or not they can restock the team with quality players, than it does with the field manager, whoever it may be.
This year's manager couldn't get a team this ill-fitting to win in 2009. It's doubtful anybody will be able to any time soon, either.
Sure hope Drayton is reading...