Being a sportswriter is not the glamorous job you might think it is. It is not always easy to balance objectivity with a passion for sports. A great sportswriter must remain balanced and not let people know how he feels, especially when writing about how his favorite team in all of sports, the Astros, is an absolute train wreck. With a 65-86 record, the Astros are tied with Florida for the worst record in the National League. It will not be an easy task, but I must remain focused and concentrate on the job at hand. After all, that is what a general manger would do.
It actually works out very well for me to be the Astros’ GM for a day, especially since they axed former GM Tim Purpura, along with manager Phil Garner. I would hire myself as a permanent replacement, but hey, I’m a college student.
Obviously, my first task then will be to hire the new GM. After the way the team has been run the last two seasons, I could hire Donald (Duck, not Trump) and he would do a better job than Purpura did. Even with all of his bumbling, Donald Duck would have more sense than to make some of the moves Purpura has made, like signing over-the-hill pitcher Woody Williams and the disastrous trade in which the Astros acquired Jason Jennings and gave up three talented, young players. However, Donald Duck would probably command too high of a salary and Uncle Drayton (McLane) loves to pinch pennies.
As I already mentioned, I need to find a replacement for Phil Garner. I actually was a fan of Garner and I was sad to see him get canned. That’s just the nature of the beast; when a team struggles badly, the coach has to go. Garner did make questionable in-game decisions once in a while, but if I had to point out something that got him fired, it would be July 29th against the Padres. In that game, Jennings got rocked for eleven runs and was pulled after two outs in the first inning. I would have pulled Jennings at four or five runs if I were the manager, but that is another article.
My managerial search would concentrate on just two people. My first choice would be Joe Torre, the current manager of the New York Yankees. He has not won a championship since 2000, and there have been rumblings in the Bronx the last couple of years about him getting fired. If the Yankees fizzle out in the playoffs, and Torre finds himself unemployed, I would try and scoop him up. However, I would be leery about taking anything out of New York after the way Clemens and Pettitte bailed on the Astros to go back to the Yankees.
My other candidate would be current Astros catcher Brad Ausmus. The 38-year-old former Gold Glove winner, well past the age catchers turn into pumpkins, has said that he would play one more season in a backup roll. Ausmus is highly regarded around baseball as a player who has all the qualities to be a great manager. This is a real shot in the dark, but if the Astros could bring him back as a player/manager, he could run the team and tutor catcher J.R. Towles.
There is an old baseball adage that says, “get as much pitching as you can, and just when you think you have enough, go out and find more.” Pitching has been a big problem for the Astros this season. The Astros have a team ERA of 4.72 this season. In 2005, when they went to the World Series, they had a 3.51 ERA. The team’s big off-season acquisitions of Jennings and Williams backfired. The bullpen has been a disaster. The only consistencies this year have been inconsistency and that sinking feeling in the bottom of fans’ stomachs when the bullpen comes in.
The bad news here is there is no quick fix in the pitching department. The free agency class this winter will be filled with mediocre pitchers who will probably get overpaid. The best fix here is going to be for the kids to pitch well. The Astros will need Brandon Backe to rebound into form after Tommy John surgery and Troy Patton and Juan Gutierrez will need to pitch well. Bullpens can be remodeled fairly quickly, so that is not as big of an issue as starting pitching.
The sad reality is that there is not much that I actually can do as GM of the Astros. The minor league system is depleted from bad trades, so it is unlikely that the Astros are going to pull any big off-season trades. McLane will try to do something to make the team better, but any move he makes will probably be a stretch and it will end up costing the team even more.
The young guys on the team are going to have to step up and show what they are made of, and judging from this season; I think we might be in for a few rough years. All I can say is, I seriously hope that I am wrong.