The (Alleged) Tragedy Of How The Astros Are Treating Jose Cruz
So Jose Cruz is no longer the first-base coach of the Houston Astros. Now can someone please tell me why everybody is so upset? Seriously, what's the big deal?
The guy was the first-base coach. His job consisted of patting Lance Berkman on the ass and showing the pitchers where second base was located on those rare occasions when they reached first base. Even the bullpen coach serves a more useful function than Cruz, and I don't hear anybody bitching about Mark Bailey losing his job in the bullpen.
Sure, I know, Cruz is a franchise icon. But so frigging what? Larry Dierker was a franchise icon. He was fired as manager and he was fired as a broadcaster. Nolan Ryan was a franchise icon, and he was allowed to depart the team twice.
And it's not even like Cruz is actually out of a job. The Astros have even offered him another position. So what makes Cruz so much more special than players who were far better than him?
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As much as I dislike Drayton McLane, I wonder, do the people bitching about this think that McLane was obligated to let Cruz keep jogging out to the first-base coaching box until he croaked over and died? If the New York Yankees can fire Yogi Berra, which they have done, then why can't McLane move Cruz into another position?
I happen to be of the belief that a new manager should get to choose his coaching staff, and it's always bugged me that most Astros managers have had their staffs chosen and in place by the time they were hired. So I like that McLane dismissed most of the staff, because now, for the most part, the new guy can pick his own staff. But it really bugs me that the new guy is getting stuck with Sean Berry and Dave Clark. The new guy should be able to pick some competent people for those jobs, like for instance, Rudy Jaramillo. (For what it's worth, I'm not much of a fan of Ed Wade, but Drayton screwed him around by first hiring Cecil Cooper and then forcing Wade to take Cooper as his manager).
So until someone can give me a legit reason why Cruz being transferred to another job where he will be overpaid to do nothing is a bad thing, don't expect me to join in on the fan bitching party. However, there is some good from this. And that good is that someone in the media is finally acknowledging that Drayton McLane had nothing to do with the Astros becoming a good baseball team.
That person, surprisingly, is the Chronicle's Astros beat writer, Jose de Jesus Ortiz. In the midst of writing about how Cruz has been badly disrespected, Ortiz goes off on a rant -- well-deserved -- against team president Tal Smith. And as part of the rant against Smith, Ortiz reminds the readers of a very basic fact: the players who made the Astros great under Drayton's ownership were brought into the organization under the ownership of one John McMullen, the guy who had fired Tal Smith. The same Tal Smith who has become the primary number-one advisor of Drayton McLane.
So frankly, I see nothing wrong with what has happened to Jose Cruz. The guy still has a job. And if it's a job that is good enough for Jimmy Wynn and Larry Dierker, guys who were far superior players, then the job should be good enough for Cruz as well. And instead of the fans bitching about the so-called disrespect showed to Cruz, perhaps they should get upset about that travesty of a list of a managerial candidates.
Really, Phil Garner gets a chance again? Remember how much he sucked when he was last here and had no pitching and had to depend on Carlos Lee? And Ned Yost got fired only weeks before his team was about to advance to the playoffs. Bob Melvin choked away a playoff spot in 2008. And they're the best of the candidates.
One would hope that for once Drayton might consider hiring someone with a backbone who has had success elsewhere. But as always, that's just not happening. So I guess you guys can bitch about the non-issue that is Jose Cruz all that you want, but maybe you should be paying more attention to the continued destruction of the team being caused by Drayton and Tal Smith.