Quote of the Day: Firing Cooper 'not in the cards'

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Astros owner Drayton McLane, on speculation that manager Cecil Cooper is on the verge of being fired:

Firing the manager is not in the cards. He’s only been the manager
for a year and a half. I think that’s somewhat premature. When you’re
real good that doesn’t last forever. When you’re playing real bad that
doesn’t last forever. That’s not in the cards. We’ve got to work
through this.

McLane’s comments are particularly interesting because earlier this
week general manager Ed Wade refused to “play the vote of confidence
game” when asked if Cooper’s job status was in question. Here’s exactly
what Wade said at the time:

I’ve been a GM now for 10 years. I don’t get into votes of
confidence. I don’t think there’s any value to it. In 10 years as GM, I
never asked for votes of confidence, and I’ve never given votes of
confidence. It’s just media speak and doesn’t lend anything to the

Wade is right that a “vote of confidence” is basically meaningless,
except the fact that it’s even an issue tends to signal that a manager
is very close to being fired. Obviously the owner of a team saying that
“firing the manager is not in the cards” is a pretty strong indication
that Cooper’s job is safe in the short term, but the Astros are in last
place at 18-27 and the clubhouse appears to be unraveling.

According to Jose Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle,
Cooper “has lost a great portion of his clubhouse’s support and with
some players even their respect.” Ortiz reports that earlier this week
one Astros player told him: “It’s going to be Coop or me soon. Just watch.”

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.