The Astros held a press conference at 2 PM at Minute Maid Park to announce the firing of General Manager Tim Purpura and Manager Phil Garner.
Owner Drayton McLane cited a need for change as one of the reasons for the firings. “I just felt it was time for a change,” McLane said. “Our goal and objective is to be a champion, and I just feel we needed a fresh start.”
Failing to advance to the post season in 2006 and 2007 is another reason. “We have not done what we would have done in the last two years, and I felt we needed to put more invigoration and enthusiasm into the organization”
The move to replace Tim Purpura might have been precipitated by the loud boos he got from the fans at Minute Maid Park as he was introduced yesterday for Bagwell’s jersey retirement ceremony. Purpura had also been booed 2 weeks ago at Biggio’s 3000 hits appreciation day.
Although Tim Purpura was the GM of the NL Pennant winning team in 2005, it is generally accepted that the team that went to the World Series was largely built by previous GM Gerry Hunsicker. Among the bad moves Purpura made in his tenure as GM are the trades for Jason Jennings (giving up 2 young starting pitchers and the club’s starting CF’er), and Aubrey Huff (who left via free agency after 3 months as an Astro), failure to sign Andy Pettitte and therefore Roger Clemens, which led to the disastrous trade for Jennings, signing an aging Woody Williams for 2 years, signing bench player Orlando Palmeiro for 2 years, not signing the top 2 draft picks of 2007. Hanging on to non-performers like Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg added to the Astros woes. It will be interesting to see what the new GM does with Adam Everett and Chris Burke in the off season.
Phil Garner who took over for the fired Jimy Williams at the 2004 All Star Break and managed the team to its first ever NLCS in 04 and World Series in 05 may have been a victim of Purpura’s blunders as GM. Although Phil did make some moves that had many scratching their heads, he was mostly trying to squeeze juice out of plastic oranges.
Tal Smith, the club’s president will be the interim GM and bench coach Cecil Cooper will take over for Phil Garner for the rest of the season. Depending on how he does for the next 31 games, Cecil Cooper will have a chance to be the new manager in 2008.
Smith and McLane will start interviewing candidates for GM as soon as possible and have said they will be asking other clubs for permission to talk to possible candidates.