Carlos Lee, Team Leader? Well, the Astros Have Had 25 Worse Ideas

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Believe it or not, this guy's not actually running the Houston Astros
Astros Manager Brad Mills traveled to Panama last week to meet with his left fielder/first baseman/slacker Carlos Lee.  The trip was billed as a bonding mission.  And while there's nothing wrong with a manager and player making better efforts to get along and communicate, there's something slightly strange about one of the stated purposes of the trip:  the purpose of increasing Lee's leadership presence in the clubhouse.

That's right, the Astros want Lee to be a team leader.  The guy who walks down the line on anything he doesn't hit out of the ballpark. The guy who jogs slowly toward the left field line after balls hit down the line while runners constantly take the extra base. 

Yeah.  It sounds like a bad idea.  But this is the Astros, and believe it or not, the Astros have done plenty of things worse than making the likes of Carlos Lee a team leader.

1.  For instance, the idea of even giving Carlos Lee, a no-field DH, a six-year, $100 million, no-trade contract to play left field is definitely a worse idea than making Lee a team leader.

2.  Or letting Lee slip away from spring training every year so he can go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

3.  Hiring Ed Wade.

4.  Then again, hiring Ed Wade was not quite as bad an idea as hiring Tim Purpura.

5.  And hiring Tim Purpura was nowhere near as bad as letting Gerry Hunsicker leave the Astros, which led to the hiring of Purpura, which led to the hiring of Wade.

6.  The choo-choo train over the left field wall is a pretty stupid idea.

7.  Then again, the whole design of Minute Maid Park is a bad idea, including the fact that just about every aspect of that ballpark was ripped off from some other ballpark.

8.  Do you know what's a worse idea than making Carlos Lee a team leader?  Making Miguel Tejada a team leader.  What can go wrong with making a HGH user and a liar a team leader?

9.  How about uniforms that look like pajamas?

10.  Or signing the injury-prone Kazuo Matsui to a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract to play second base.

11.  Or firing Gene Elston.

12.  Though as bad as firing Gene Elston was, it can, in no way, top the bad idea that was the hiring of Milo Hamilton.

13.  Dumping Alan Ashby the second time.  There was nothing wrong with dumping Ashby the catcher because that allowed for the possibility of Craig Biggio, catcher.

14.  Drafting Phil Nevin because he could be signed on the cheap because Derek Jeter, who the scouts recommended, wanted lots of money.  Well, that's a bad idea.

15.  Letting Nolan Ryan sign as a free agent with the Texas Rangers because ownership thought he was washed up.

16.  Letting Nolan Ryan leave the Astros to become president of the Texas Rangers because Astros ownership didn't want to give Ryan an actual management role with the Astros.

17.  Firing Bill Wood, the guy responsible for assembling a team including Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, Ken Caminiti, Darryl Kile and Shane Reynolds.

18.  Giving up way too soon on Curt Schilling.

19.  Hiring Jimy Williams to manage the team. 

20.  Though hiring Jimy Williams was not quite as bad as hiring Cecil Cooper.

21.  Trying to force the Chicago Cubs to travel to Houston while Hurricane Ike was on the way to Houston while turning down offers to move the games to neutral sites because Drayton McLane didn't want to give up the gate.  That's a bad idea, as is complaining when the games are played in Milwaukee because it ended up being too late to come up with alternatives.

22.  Retiring the jerseys of the likes of Jose Cruz and Mike Scott, while continuing to ignore the existence of the greatest pitcher in team history, J.R. Richard.

23.  Keeping Richard Hidalgo over Bobby Abreu. 

24.  Trading Kenny Lofton for Eddie Taubensee.

25.  But the worst idea of all, even worse than making Carlos Lee a team leader, was one John McMullen thought up after he purchased the team.  His idea was for a dance team known as Apple Pie that would come out on the field between innings and do dance and cheer routines.  An old friend who worked at the Dome at the time said they were "so wholesome you puked."  They weren't very well received by the fans, and they didn't last a season.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal