HOUSTON – The Houston Astros fired manager Cecil Cooper on Monday with 13 games left in another disappointing season. Third-base coach Dave Clark was named interim manager. The Astros were 70-79 headed into Monday's home against St. Louis.
General manager Ed Wade said the change couldn't wait until the end of the season. He added that more changes could be coming for a franchise just four years removed from its only World Series appearance.
"We're tasked with evaluating all aspects of our situation," Wade said. "At the end of the day, we're going to try to address those off-field issues that exist. We're not walking away from it. The issue we had to address here, in the short term, was the managerial issue and that's why we moved forward today."
The 59-year-old Cooper was hired on Aug. 27, 2007, to replace Phil Garner. Houston went 171-170 under Cooper, who was the bench coach under Garner between 2005-07.
Cooper became the fourth manager to get fired this season, all of them in the National League. Arizona dismissed Bob Melvin on May 7, Colorado replaced Clint Hurdle on May 29 and Washington fired Manny Acta on July 13.
Wade, owner Drayton McLane and president of baseball operations Tal Smith met with Cooper in his office on Monday afternoon to give him the news.
While Cooper took the blame, he could not be blamed for all the Astros' shortcomings in 2009.
A number of offseason moves fizzled and All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman and pitching ace Roy Oswalt have had subpar seasons.
"It stinks when you know that your performance, that you're responsible for somebody else's job security," Berkman said. "Say what you want, we didn't get it done on the field. The players have to take the full responsibility. Coop never threw a pitch or batted with runners in scoring position."
Cooper's initial contract ran through the 2009 season and the Astros picked up his option for 2010. Houston won 86 games in 2008, a 13-game turnaround from 2007. But this season, the Astros are almost guaranteed their second losing record in three seasons and only the third since 1991.
Cooper was a first-time major league manager and the first Black manager in Astros history. He played 11 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers and his hiring as Houston's manager got the personal blessing of commissioner Bud Selig, who owned the Brewers from 1977-87.
AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan contributed to this report.
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