In 2005 skipper Phil Garner and general manager Tim Purpuru guided the Astros to their first World Series appearance in team history. Two years later both men are without a job after disgruntled owner Drayton McLane fired them Monday afternoon, citing dissatisfaction with the clubs performance on the field.
At 58-73 the Astros are nine games back of the NL Central leading Cubs and losers of their last five out of seven games. In a baseball town where fans value winning at a premium and the owner is extremely sensitive ''in terms of public perception'', back-to-back losing seasons is unacceptable.
Injuries, age, poor pitching and inept hitting have all contributed to the teams failure on the field this season. Prized off season acquisition Jason Jennings has been hampered by injuries all year long and that has certainly contributed to his dreadful performance on the field. He's currently 2-9 with a 6.45 E.R.A. in eighteen starts.
Future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio is retiring after twenty stellar seasons in an Astros uniform and 38-year old Bard Ausmus is nearing the end of his career. When you look around the horn it's clear that only first and third base are occupied by players with good enough talent to make a significant impact on the team for years to come. Outside of All-Star Lance Berkman and newly acquired Ty Wiggington Houston has many holes to fill.
Patrolling the vacuous confines of Minute Maid Park is one of the premier sluggers in baseball, Carlos Lee, and one of the most talented rookies in Hunter Pence. Right field is still a question mark for the Astros as they are not sold on either Chris Burke or Luke Scott.
With only two consistent starting pitchers in ace Roy Oswalt and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, Houston seems to be in a long term rebuilding mode and that is something die hard Astros fans do not want to hear.