What a surprise. But JJO breaks it off strong with his lead paragraph:
Cecil Cooper was fired Monday as Astros manager, falling victim to an underachieving, injury-plagued team with a bloated payroll and one of the worst starting rotations in baseball.
“We haven’t been to the playoffs in four years. It seems like we’ve been on sort of a gradual downward spiral since we made it to the World Series (in 2005). And I think you can’t just point to one thing. There are several factors involved in that. If there was ever an environment for sweeping reform or change this would be it...
...I don’t know what the organization plans on doing, where they plan on going from here. Certainly the way we’re playing now and the things that have gone on here over the last three or four years are not getting it done. I think, again, players have to take ownership for that because we haven’t performed on the field like we’re supposed to. Ultimately I think managers get too much credit for the success of the ballclub and too much blame when it goes in the other direction. I think it boils down to our performance between the lines, and it hasn’t been good.”
“Coop is a very solid baseball guy and gave his heart and soul for this organization. Unfortunately, I got to a point where it was appropriate to make this change and make it now. It gives us a couple of weeks to go ahead and evaluate some other facets of our operation at the field level and hopefully use that time to try to make the right decisions going forward.”
“If you'll look, this is the most expensive baseball team the Houston Astros have ever had. It's a huge investment we've had here. It's over $100 million. And we invested it in players that we thought could be championship players. Some of our key players, because of injuries or difficulties, haven't had great seasons. You can't predict all of that. But it was the judgment we had when the team was put together in December and January and we were willing to invest financially to have by far the most expensive team we've ever had...
..."You've heard me say many times everyone's evaluating, including myself. The evaluators can't predict the injuries, the difficulties, the problems that we've had this season, or why some of them haven't been able to perform at the level that they have in the past. The injuries and circumstances were different. We'd like to all go back and start from the beginning last year, but this is why we made the decision today so some real decisions can be made. Everyone will be evaluated.”
“I’ll tell you, you just got to have a good balance and a competitive team. If you see the team across the hall right here, the St. Louis Cardinals, they find a way to do it. They’re not a big-market team. They don’t spend that much money. I guess just find a way to do it. That’s what we got to do, just find a way to do it.”
JJO puts forth some candidates, and some of Ken Rosenthal's candidates:
Clark, former Phillies, White Sox, Blue Jays and Angels manager Jim Fergosi, former Nationals manager Manny Acta and former Diamondbacks interim manager Al Pedrique, who was promoted to be Clark’s third-base coach from field coordinator, are some potential candidates to replace Cooper. Brad Ausmus, who is currently playing for the Dodgers, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, are former Astros who could be candidates if the Astros go for box-office appeal.