August 27, 2007

Astros Fire Manager, GM

Holy crap, did you guys know that the Astros fired their manager and GM today? Thanks to Lambo for the tip.

And BTW, while I was digging up the press release, I saw that Houston has already retired Jeff Bagwell's number. Jeepers, the Reds just got around to Concepción!

Anyway, here's the scoop. Not sure I'm seeing the point with a month to go in the season, but whatever:

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros announced today that the club has replaced manager Phil Garner and General Manager Tim Purpura, effective immediately. Astros bench coach Cecil Cooper will serve as interim manager and Astros President of Baseball Operations Tal Smith will serve as interim general manager for the remainder of the 2007 season. The announcements were made by Astros Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Drayton McLane.

The manager position will be evaluated at the end of the season, while a search for a new general manager will begin immediately. Both Garner and Purpura's contracts, each of which run through the 2008 season, will be honored fully.

“I feel it was time for the Houston Astros to embark upon a new direction,” said McLane. “The bar and standards have been raised in Houston, and our great city is now a baseball town. With that status comes high expectations from our fans, and I felt a change was necessary to get our organization back on track toward our mission, which is to be a World Series champion.”

The 57-year-old Cooper is in his third season as the Astros bench coach, and he is the 16th manager in Astros history (including Salty Parker, who was 1-0 as interim manager in 1972). During his career in baseball, Cooper has been an All-Star player as well as a minor league manager, coach, player development director, and player agent. He previously served as the bench coach for Milwaukee in 2002 and spent both 2003 and 2004 as the manager of the Triple A Indianapolis club in the Brewers organization.

Cooper was named to five All-Star teams as a player and hit .298 (2192×7349) with 241 home runs and 1125 RBI in 1896 career Major League games with Boston (1971-76) and Milwaukee (1977-87). He earned two Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at first base (1979, 80) and helped lead two clubs to the World Series (1975 Boston, 1982 Milwaukee).

The 2007 season is Smith's 50th in the game of baseball. He started his baseball career in the Cincinnati Reds farm department in 1958 and came to Houston in 1960 when he was named assistant to general manager Gabe Paul for the new National League expansion franchise that would become the Colt .45's. He was named farm director for the Colt .45's in 1961, assistant to the president of the Houston Sports Association in 1963, and vice president and director of player personnel for the Astros in 1965, a position he held for eight seasons.

In 1973, Smith left the Astros to become the executive vice president of the New York Yankees, serving in that capacity until his return to Houston as general manager of the Astros in August 1975. He was named president of the club in 1976, serving in that capacity until 1980. The primary architect of the 1980 NL West

Division Champion, the first division title-winning team in franchise history, Smith returned to the organization on Nov. 22, 1994, when he was named president of the team once again. Since 1981, he has also been the owner and operator of Tal Smith Enterprises, a firm which has provided consulting services to 26 of the 30 Major League clubs, with particular emphasis on the preparation of arbitration cases, and operational reviews.

In 1999, Smith was chosen by Baseball America as one of 25 panelists to provide an overview of baseball in the 20th century, and the publication also recognized him for his career of achievements and innovations in December of 2005 with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Garner, 57, led the club to a 277-252-1 (.524) record as the Astros manager from July 16, 2004 through August 26, 2007. In 15 seasons as a Major League manager, Garner owns a 985-1,054 record (.483). His teams advanced to the postseason twice during his tenure as Astros manager, including an NLCS appearance in 2004 and the first World Series team in franchise history in 2005. Garner also played in the Majors for 16 seasons, including seven with Houston from 1981-87.

Purpura was the 10th general manager in franchise history and spent 14 years with the Astros organization. He joined the team in 1994 as assistant director of minor league operations and director of player relations. From Oct. 24, 1997 until being named general manager on Nov. 1, 2004, Purpura was the assistant general manager and the director of player development, directing the operation of the club's player development system and its six minor league affiliates.

12 comments to “Astros Fire Manager, GM”

  1. BubbaFan says:

    I think it’s the humiliation of looking up at the Pirates. 😉

    The scary thing is that someone over at RR is talking about hiring them.

  2. KC2HMZ says:


    Somebody better tell the guys over at RR that Tim Purpura did not put together the Astros team that went to the World Series. Gerry Hunsicker should get the credit for that. He was the guy who built the minor league system that produced Berkman, Hidalgo, Bobby Abreu, Oswalt, Lidge, and Wade Miller and traded for or signed Jeff Kent, Moises Alou, Carl Everett, Jose Lima, Carlos Beltran and Clemens. What Purpura did, he mostly did with what he found in the trunk when he bought the car.

  3. Red Hot Mama says:

    And we’re getting the humiliation of losing to the Pirates. By later tonight, the Reds might not be looking down very far at all on the Buccos.

    Your talk about building a minor league system, HMZ, makes me think of O’Brien. If the rumors are true, and Kriv-dawg really is thinking of using Cantu over Votto at first next season, I wonder whether the O’Brien factor has something to do with that.

  4. BubbaFan says:

    Speaking of Votto…he was chosen IL Rookie of the Year. Even though they actually left his name off the ballot accidentally, he still won.

    Ditto Aaron Herr. His name was left off, too, and he won Utility Player of the Year.

  5. Red Hot Mama says:

    “accidentally” left their names off the ballot? Seems kind of fishy. Still, congrats to the winners! Being write-in winners ought to get you an extra big trophy.

  6. BubbaFan says:

    They get to be on the IL post-season All-Star team.

    Only two other teams have more than one player on it.

  7. Red Hot Mama says:

    I should probably be embarrassed that it took me so long to figure out that “IL” didn’t mean “Illinois”

  8. BubbaFan says:

    LOL. It’s the International League. As opposed to the PCL.

    The Bats are fresh out of outfielders. Their outfield tonight is made up of all infielders: Votto, Machado, and Bannon. The rest are with the Reds or on the DL.

  9. Red Hot Mama says:

    That’s awesome. I remember when the Reds tried to get Machado to try the outfield and he didn’t want to. Makes me with that Olmedo were still with the organization; he was eager to try out the big grass.

  10. KC2HMZ says:

    That outfield full of infielders makes sending Jay Bruce back to Chattanooga look like a real bright idea, doesn’t it?

  11. BubbaFan says:

    They didn’t send Bruce back to Chattanooga, did they? I think they just decided to give him a day off. Rick Sweet is really careful to do that with all his players.

    Dickerson started the game, but left really early with “rib cage pain.”

  12. KC2HMZ says:

    BF – You’re right. It was Johnny Cueto they sent to Chattanooga. My bad.

    I guess maybe the sight of three infielders in the Bats’ outfield turned out to be too much for somebody in the Reds’ organization. The Reds obtained OF Buck Coats from the Cubs yesterday for a PTBNL and optioned him to Louisville. Coats had been playing AAA ball for Iowa (.309, 11 HR, 59 RBI), but he does have one major league home run – last September when he was up with the Cubbies, he hit one off Harang.

    The other news nugget I see from yesterday is that Dumatrait will start Saturday against the Cardinals.

    RHM – I was rereading the comments in this thread just now and I think I’ve just put a Big Red (Machine) mark (maybe even a Wishbone C) across my forehead when I smacked it with the palm of my hand a minute ago after rereading your comment on Dan O’Brien.

    It didn’t dawn on me the day you posted it, but “upon further review” just now I remembered that O’Brien was the Astros’ scouting director before he left to become an assistant GM with the Rangers.

    I was when O’Brien departed that the Astros hired Paul Lakey as their scouting director. The very first thing Lakey did was to sign Oswalt, who under O’Brien had been nothing more than a DFE leftover from the 23rd round of O’Brien’s last draft. Lakey also ran the drafts that produced Berman, Lidge, and Ensberg for the Astros.

    But the main thing is that [i]the Astros mysteriously began to do things right just after O’Brien chose to leave[/i].

    And, as we all know, O’Brien recently left the Reds, too, the result of impetus provided by Mr. Castellini’s foot. Your observation concerning DanO may well be spot on.