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Sean Berry Out, Jeff Bagwell In, Drayton McLane Still In Charge

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How Sean Berry held on to his job as Astros hitting coach was something that I was wondering about several months ago. The Astros, after all, rank near the bottom in just about every major offensive category that there is in major league baseball.

And in the four seasons that Berry has been the team's hitting coach, the team's output in all of those categories has steadily declined from year to year though, for the most part, the important parts of the roster have remained intact.

So the dismissal yesterday of Berry yesterday made justifiable sense, and it's something with which I have no problem. However, the hiring of Astros icon Jeff Bagwell to take over from Berry just tells me one thing: Drayton McLane thinks the fans are idiots.

I like Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell is one of my all time favorite Astros, and he might be the greatest player in team history.

But besides serving in a special advisor category with the club, Bagwell has never given an indication that he wants to coach or be involved in an in-depth fashion with the team. He's made it clear in the past that he didn't want to commit to fulltime club positions because he wanted to spend time with his young daughters.

But if anything, this just speaks of another of Drayton' PR moves.

When the Astros dumped Cecil Cooper last year, they made it known that the coaching positions were up for grabs, as well. Yet somehow, despite his ineffectiveness, and the ineffectiveness of the batters for most of his tenure, Berry kept his job.

And this was despite the fact that Rudy Jaramillo, acknowledged as one of the game's great hitting coaches -- and the guy who was instrumental in making Jeff Bagwell into Jeff Bagwell -- was looking for another job after he and the Texas Rangers couldn't come to an agreement.

The Astros stuck with Berry, and only people who work for Drayton or don't really follow baseball thought that, coming into this season, the Astros were going to be able to do anything offensively.

But with Bagwell having the job, Drayton gets to provide a link to the great days of the franchise, and most importantly, it makes it look as if Drayton's actually doing something to improve the club. It's a PR move that hopefully pays off if Bagwell can get Hunter Pence to start laying off of the slider, or if can find someway to return Carlos Lee to hitting relevance.

But the Bagwell hiring is only a superficial PR move, and it gets nowhere to addressing the problems with the Astros. The main problem being that the Astros are an awful team with a horribly constructed roster. And until Drayton dumps Ed Wade and brings in someone with the hint of a clue to run the club, nothing is going to change.

Sean Berry wasn't the one, after all, responsible for the addition of the aging, injury-prone, light-hitting Kazuo Matsui. Berry wasn't responsible for the addition of the aging Pedro Feliz, a guy who had trouble hitting in the hitter's paradise of Citizens Bank Ballpark when better, cheaper alternatives like Orlando Hudson were available.

Sean Berry wasn't the one who paid $15 million over three years to a relief pitcher to fill a spot that didn't need to be filled -- overpaying for a set-up guy when the starting pitching sucks has to be a sure sign of insanity, right?

Ultimately the season will end, and the Astros will still suck. Maybe Bagwell will have gotten through to Pence and Jason Castro and some of the youngsters, but no matter what, attendance will still be dropping and there will still be no hope for next year.

So Drayton will probably make another cosmetic, PR move, maybe a new manager, maybe adding a free agent, but as long as he keeps Ed Wade as GM, it's going to be clear that Drayton would rather play the fans as idiots than actually put a good baseball guy in as GM.

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