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Cecil Cooper Might Be Here to Stay, But He Needs to Remember Craig Biggio Is Going Away

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Richard Justice has made up his mind about Cecil Cooper. So have I. And unlike Justice who thinks he should be hired as the manager for next season, I’ve decided that the guy doesn’t deserve the job.

And it’s just not that he refuses to play his best lineup, as even Justice has criticized him for. It’s that he continues to let Craig Biggio dictate his lineup.

Craig Biggio has announced his retirement. Come October 1, Craig Biggio is no longer a member of the Houston Astros. This means the Astros have to find a second baseman to replace him. There is a guy on the roster who’s kind of supposed to be his replacement, Chris Burke. Problem is, no one really knows if Burke can play.

He’s been bounced from the bench last season, to Opening Day starter in center field this season, to Round Rock, to back to the bench. But he’s not gotten much time at second. And with all of his being moved around, it’s not really known if he can hit given the chance to do so every day.

But Cecil Cooper’s decided to give him a chance. He’s going to let Burke prove that he can play in the majors. And I’ve got no problem with that. My problem is this: Burke’s going to play right field in place of Luke Scott when Craig Biggio wants to play. And if Craig Biggio doesn’t want to play, then Burke might play second. And even then, Burke might not play. He might be the guy coming off the bench to pinch hit.

So, Cooper’s going to make Burke prove that he can play in the majors by not really giving him a chance to prove he can play in the majors, and he can’t let Burke play everyday because he’s letting Craig Biggio dictate the lineup.

Cecil, Biggio’s not going to be here next season. And since this season is lost, it’s time to find out what condition this team is in for next season. If Chris Burke can actually play second base, and hit, then that’s one less thing to worry about. Letting Burke play in right field because Biggio wants to play isn’t helping the team to decide what Burke can do at second base.

Frankly, I don’t think Burke can play in the majors on an everyday basis. But if the Astros are determined to give him a chance to prove that he can do it, they can’t undermine this chance by letting Craig Biggio dictate the lineup. And because Cecil Cooper is letting Craig Biggio do this, then Cooper’s showing that’s he just as big a pawn of Biggio and McLane as Phil Garner.

And a pawn of McLane and Biggio isn’t what this team needs as a manager next season. Which mean that the manager of the Houston Astros next season will be Cecil Cooper.

Now, before I get to the update of the Astros over the weekend, I’ve got another of my endless complaints about the Chron. This time, I want to know why not only am I just now learning that the Astros denied Gerry Hunsicker tickets to the 2005 World Series, but also why I am once again learning this from the Rocky Mountain News? Shouldn’t the Astros denying 2005 World Series tickets to the former Astros GM who put the 2005 Astros World Series team together be something that should be reported in the Houston media? Just how much further up Drayton’s butt are you guys going to shove your nose? Don’t you have any pride? I though Jesus Ortiz’s cheap shot article at Hunsicker on behalf of McLane was going too far, but ignoring an actual news story that makes Drayton look bad is really just too much. Especially since Drayton’s ongoing treatment of Hunsicker is affecting the Astros ability to hire quality personnel.

I also want to know why it is that, if I want to get actual news and facts about the Astros, it always appears to be that I have to get it from the Rocky Mountain News? Just what is it that Justice and Ortiz do everyday? (Well, Justice is too busy being a radio and TV star. I don’t know what Ortiz’s excuse is.)

Now, on with the Astros summary.

I’m confused. Bill Brown is telling me that Cecil Cooper is managing with the utmost integrity to the pennant race, and that this can be proven by how Cooper is using his bullpen. But I’m not buying it. And I’m not buying it because it’s Monday afternoon, it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, the Astros are up 9-7, and Cecil Cooper has Trever Miller pitching to Prince Fielder.

I know that Cooper screwed things up by going to Lidge in the eighth inning. And I know that Qualls has been beat up on a bit recently, but is it really managing with the utmost integrity to the pennant race by having Trever Miller of all people pitching at a crucial time to the team’s best hitter? I know that Miller did get the out. And I know that Astros did get the win, but no one can convince me that pitching Trever Miller in the ninth inning of a close game is the best course of action.

I guess we can just label that as another reason why I don’t think Cecil Cooper should be managing the Astros in 2008 – though with the reputation that the Astros are acquiring throughout the majors (which I have to find out about from out-of-town media) it’s doubtful that anyone of competence would take this job. (I swear, I don’t even think the D-Rays or the Royals have as bad a rep around MLB as the Astros).

Another reason why Cooper shouldn’t get the job is that Chris Sampson, fresh off the DL due to arm problems, has been moved to the bullpen. I’m one of those who wants to see what Troy Patton can do in the starting rotation for the rest of the season, but does management really think the best way to evaluate a possible rotation for next season is to keep one of the young starters in the bullpen while running Woody Williams out to make every start? We know what Williams can do – he sucks. Let’s see how Sampson recovers from the injury. (Look, the rotation is going to suck next season no matter what happens. At the moment, the only starter capable of being in most major league rotations is Roy Oswalt.)

It should be noted that the Astros actually finished the month of August by beating the Chicago Cubs, and that this victory on Friday gave the Astros a 15-14 record for the month. This should be noted because August, month number five of the season, was the first time this season that the Astros finished a month with a record better than five hundred.

Yes, the Astros have been so bad that I’m celebrating the Astros finishing a month with a winning record. The Astros ended up losing two of the three weekend games to the Cubs. Sunday’s loss can be attributed to Woody Williams failing to hold a lead, and Chad Qualls doing his best Brad Lidge impersonation.

And let’s hear it for my man crush, Hunter Pence, who now has the Astros record for most extra base hits by a rookie.

The Astros have two more games in Milwaukee before heading off to Shea Stadium for a three-game series with the Mets. Brandon Backe gets his first start of the season tonight (he’s been on the DL since early last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery). The team’s record is 62-76, and there are 24 games left in the season. I bet a lunch with a friend with the Astros that this team wouldn’t win 75 games this season. This team’s going to have win 13 of those remaining games for him to collect.

I don’t think it will happen, but at least I have a reason to keep watching. What’s your excuse? – John Royal

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