Cecil the Delusional

I’m not sure exactly what is going on with the Houston Astros and their skipper Cecil Cooper, but it has me particularly concerned for Astros fans everywhere. While writer Danny Knobler hung with Mr. Cooper, the Astros manager pulled his best Jimmy Rollins impression and predicted at least 90 victories for the team this season. Why, you ask, would he think that? Feast your eyes on this quotation:

“We have a terrific bullpen. We have one of the best closers in the game. We’ve got the ace in the National League. We’ve got three of the best offensive players at their position. We’ve got, if not the best, then one of the top catchers in baseball. I mean, c’mon. We’ve got what it takes. You’re telling me we’re not going to win that many games?”

Yes, Cecil, I’m telling you that you will not be winning that many games this year. Not with the current roster, at least, and not without significant visits from the luck fairy and career year wizard. I fully comprehend that the job of a manager involves motivating his players and putting them in the best possible position to succeed, but the above quote seems more like a comment a fanboy would make in one of Dave’s organizational rankings posts.

The Astro bullpen is quite capable of performing well but is in no way a lock to dominate the league. I have long been a fan of Geoff Geary but he is slightly above average at best. Doug Brocail is still a solid enough reliever albeit being interchangeable with a good number of other bullpen arms. Wesley Wright has shown signs of promise. And any of Tim Byrdak, Clay Hensley, and Chris Sampson is likely good for slightly above replacement level production. But do not tell me you fully expect Latroy Hawkins to pitch as well as he did down the stretch. Terrific bullpen? No. Solid? Maybe.

Jose Valverde is a good closer, no question about that, but I would not slot him in the top five in the entire game. Maybe in the senior circuit, but not in all of baseball. This take is at least defendable, however. Roy Oswalt has arguably been the most consistently great pitcher of the decade, but he is not the best in the entire league. Maybe top ten or top fifteen, but not the best. He happens to be an elite performer, but not the elite performer.

Cooper’s next point of contention is asinine at best, given that if a player was clearly the best offensively at his position, we would not be racking our brains trying to figure out who he is talking about.

Lance Berkman is a great player, but Berkman < Pujols. Carlos Lee can definitely rake, but Manny Ramirez and even Matt Holliday can stake claim as the best leftfielders with the stick. After that, who would even qualify as the best offensively at a position. Miguel Tejada? Pudge Rodriguez? Is he talking about Hunter Pence? I’m even willing to forgive this massive oversight because it is harmless when compared to his next statement.

I don’t know what year Cecil Cooper is living in, but Pudge Rodriguez as one of the, if not the, best catchers in the game? What is this, 1999? Rodriguez is, at best, a league average player nowadays based primarily on positional scarcity and defensive prowess. But one of the best in the game? Seriously?

Cooper and some of his players base their 90+ win logic on the fact that they won 86 games last year and have apparently improved. Astros, Pythagoras. Pythagoras, Astros. They are not going to win 90 or more games this year. End of story. Of course I don’t expect Cooper to come out and discuss the ineptitudes of the team, but he didn’t have to emphatically overestimate their talent.

Print This Post

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

19 Responses to “Cecil the Delusional”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Ender says:

    I keep seeing people pick the Astros as the 2nd place team in the NL and I find it baffling. This is a team that had sub .500 talent last year and just had one hot streak late in the year mostly driven by an insane hot streak by Wigginton who isn’t on the team. It has 2 real SP one of which has struggled on the road and with injuries and then a complete mess in the backend of the rotation.

    I think they are fighting with the Pirates for 5th, not fighting with Brewers/Reds/Cardinals for 2nd.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Matt B. says:

    Pudge the best catcher!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. pr says:

    A lot of people have been fooled by the Astros seemingly perennial contention and recognizable, although not necessarily good roster. At face value it’s easy to ignore that they’ll be handing at least 600 to the triumvirate of Bourne/Abercrombie/Erstad and that Russ Ortiz has a legitimate shot at making the rotation.
    Ironically the weakest link to the big league club could be Cooper himself. Imagine a less experienced, and less mature Ned Yost. The Astros will be occupying the bottom rungs of the NL for some time.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Snapper says:

      Cooper can’t be that bad.

      This team is planning on having Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz in the rotation. That’s about the weakest link you can find in MLB.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pr says:

      *600 ABs

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nathan says:

      I think I remember an indecent last year when he said it would have been better if a player hadn’t hit a home run because it cleared the bases and “took pressure off the pitcher.”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Eric J says:

    To be fair, I don’t think he was saying they had the best offensive player at three positions, just players who are among the best.

    He’s still totally wrong, but I don’t think he’s having vicarious delusions of grandeur through Berkman, at least.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Joe says:

    How much of this is just pre-season manager bluster? I agree with your assessment about the projections of the players. However, I would imagine that Cooper saying (particularly before opening day), “Well the pieces we have aren’t going to make us competitive this season” would illicit negative reactions with media, fans, and his current roster and ownership.

    But if he’s serious, yeah, he’s out of his mind.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      Ed Wade (thinks he) built this team to win now. Cooper can’t go contradicting his boss. If the Astro’s had any decent prospects left, I’m sure some smart GM would have scammed Wade into making a Bedard like trade. With TWO aces a great bullpen and the best catcher in the league, they would win 100 games! I think Cooper has to be talking about Tejada when he is talking about the best at their position. He has to say this about Tejada because Wade paid a king’s ransome for him just a year ago. Clearly, the numbers don’t back any of this up, but I have a hard time condemning Cooper. He may just be saying what his organization expects him to say.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eric Seidman says:

        There is a BIG difference between backing up your organization and spouting off about how awesome everyone is like a fanboy in one of Dave’s posts, which I wrote in the actual article. I’m not condemning him for backing up the team, but rather for going so ridiculously overboard.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Joe says:

        I guess my thinking is more in line with yours, but I think I’d replace Wade with Drayton McLane. When the guy with the checkbook is as involved as McLane is, particularly on personal issues, I think you have to tow the company line.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Jack Moore says:

    In reference to the catcher, he was clearly talking about J.R. Towles.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. ThundaPC says:

    I know all too well how low-end organizations who’s team comes off of a good year starts believing that last year’s team is actually true talent level and then starts trumpeting guaranteed contention for a playoff spot.

    Lord help them if they get off to a rough start.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Nathan says:

    Its great to be a ‘Stros fan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Andre says:

    Is that third position player he’s talking about Chris Biggio?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Alireza says:

    The third guy must be Pudge, but you have got to be kidding me with this. While Pudge may be one of the best catchers EVER, he is not one of the best catchers in baseball anymore. Besides the Martin/McCann/Mauer triumvirate, there are guys like Soto, Doumit, Navarro, Iannetta and even Chris Snyder ahead of Pudge.

    Still, it is nice to see a guy rooting for his team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Big Gandhi says:

    While this is just a preseason motivational ploy, I am on the outside saying that Pudge will produce a top 5 catcher line in the upcoming year. I will post a line of 286/345/460 with 18 hrs and 92 rbis for one of the few 1st ballot HOFs left on an active roster. Couple that with the fact that the starting staff could really be in for a 2 or 3 win improvement with his presence, and a bounce back year for Pence and/or Miggy (see contract year player) I’m ok with Cecil projecting 86 wins again. A more interesting story would be the fact the NL central will be the best MLB division this year sans the Pirates

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. i like your writing style :-)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Writing Info says:

    Would you kindly translate your website into Italian as I’m not so comfortable reading it in English? I’m getting tired of using Google Translate all the time, there is a little WordPress plugin called like global translator which will render all your articles automatically- this would make reading posts on your great blog even more pleasant. Cheers dude, Writing Info!

    Vote -1 Vote +1