Today the Astros fired their GM Tim Purpura and their manager, Phil Garner. It’s always surprising to see a team clean house only two years after a World Series appearance. But then again, the ‘Stros are one of the worst teams in baseball. No doubt ownership felt the need to take action.
But was this the right decision? Let’s look first at Garner, then at Purpura.
The Astros this year are 58-73. That’s not good, but based on the number of runs they’ve scored and the number of runs they’ve given up, their expected win total is one fewer than their actual total. So by that measure, Garner has actually done a decent job.
Add to that the fact that Garner was hamstrung by Roger Clemens’ holdout and eventual decision to sign with the Yankees; by Craig Biggio’s crawl to 3,000 hits, which essentially forced Garner to play the declining 2B over younger, more talented options; by Brad Lidge’s erosion of confidence; and by Andy Petitte’s decision to move to follow his best friend Clemens to New York.
Consider all of what Garner had to deal with this season, outside of the usual DL stints and bad luck, and it’s easy to understand why his team is in last place.
Which brings us to Purpura, who didn’t exactly give Garner the greatest pieces to work with. Sure, he signed Carlos Lee, who has had a pretty good year, with 26 HR, 103 RBI and a .362 OBP. But he also sent Willie Taveras and promising pitching prospects Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz to Colorado for Jason Jennings, who was 2-9 before he was placed on the disabled list with a bad elbow on Aug. 21. And he held onto Morgan Ensberg one season too long. And he signed Woody Williams to WAY too much money — $6 million in 2007.
It’s not hard to understand why Purpura got the ax. But Garner…well, that one’s a little tougher to swallow.