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Chronicle: Dierker wants to return, awaits verdict

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by countingcrow, Oct 13, 2001.

  1. countingcrow

    countingcrow Contributing Member

    May 7, 2000
    Likes Received:

    Skipper wants to return in '02

    Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle

    ATLANTA -- In the wake of another dismal Astros playoff performance, team owner Drayton McLane Jr. said Friday it might be a few days before a decision is made regarding Larry Dierker's future as manager.

    McLane said he would be evaluating the Astros "from the owner on down," but his first and most important decision involves a manager who has won four division championships in five seasons but gone 2-12 in the playoffs.
    Dierker apparently long ago lost the support of some key players in his clubhouse, but the Astros have still averaged 90 victories a season in his five years.

    McLane said he needed some time to get input from his top executives and also to allow the emotions of a season that ended with the Atlanta Braves sweeping a National League Division Series from the Astros to settle.

    "I learned a long time ago not to make hasty decisions," McLane said in a quiet clubhouse after Friday's 6-2 season-ending loss to the Atlanta Braves. "You don't make decisions when there's a lot of emotion, and we've had that the last week or so. It'll be several days."

    For his part, Dierker made it clear he would like to return and that while he's frustrated by the postseason failures, he's proud of how his teams have performed overall.

    "I really want to come back and give this another shot," Dierker said. "But if it doesn't work out, I have some peace of mind about my stewardship and the way things went."

    Dierker, who has a contract for next season, appealed for a quick decision on behalf of his coaches, who are unsigned. General manager Gerry Hunsicker also said it was important to make a decision quickly enough to allow the coaches to find work with other organizations if a managerial change is made.
    However, he added: "That's Drayton's call."

    It was McLane who came up with the idea of luring Dierker out of the broadcast booth to be the manager, and the things that appealed to the owner then -- the intelligence, personality and popularity -- are still Dierker's strong points.

    The difference is the four postseason failures. Besides losing 12 of 14 games, the Astros haven't even been competitive in a lot of them and have scored one or no runs eight times.

    Against the Braves, they hit .200 as a team, and three of the biggest stars -- Craig Biggio, Moises Alou and Lance Berkman -- hit a collective .167.

    Players privately complain that Dierker is not as prepared as he should be and that he doesn't run a game as well as a Joe Torre or a Tony La Russa. However, it's difficult to argue that his managerial style has kept the club from winning.

    "We'll consider what has been accomplished," McLane said, "and try to determine how to keep moving forward. It's not only the manager we'll look at. It's the owner and the players and everyone. The one thing we're not going to do is panic and make a hasty decision."

    Meanwhile, several of Dierker's players refused to take a public stand on the matter. One who did, outfielder Moises Alou, said: "I blame the players. We didn't perform. The players make the manager look good, and we didn't make the manager look good."

    If Friday's loss was Dierker's last game as manager, he went out with the plain-spoken style that has made him popular with fans and has frequently irritated his players.

    Asked about Braves starter John Burkett, who held the Astros to two runs in 6 1/3 innings, Dierker said: "I felt like we should have been able to hit Burkett, but I wasn't standing in the batter's box seeing where those pitchers were."

    The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when catcher Paul Bako turned a mistake by Astros starter Shane Reynolds into a two-run homer.

    The Braves had a runner on second base and two outs at the time. With Burkett on deck and a 1-2 count on Bako, Dierker said he was surprised Reynolds threw him a belt-high fastball on the inside portion of the plate.

    Dierker refused to alibi for Reynolds.

    "With all the experience Shane has and the kind of control he's got, I'm just dumbfounded that he made a pitch the guy could hit out of the park in that situation, particularly with two strikes in the count," Dierker said. "If I were to say a turning point in this game, I would say that was it. We don't allow those two runs, and we're right in it tight all the way.

    "That was certainly, in my mind, a breakdown for us. It's very unusual to see Shane make that kind of mistake."

    In retrospect, Dierker said Game 1 was the one in the series that angered him. The Astros took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning, but the Braves scored four runs off the Houston bullpen and won 7-4.

    Tom Glavine threw eight shutout innings for the Braves in Game 2, and by the time the Astros arrived in Atlanta, they sensed their season was almost over.

    "Getting so close and not doing it in the first game was the point at which I was really the most upset," Dierker said. "Not being able to win a game here, it's still sort of embarrassing, but it doesn't really enrage me in any way.

    "Honestly, I felt like we had a better team than the Braves. I felt we caught them at a good time, but the guys are pros, and they're used to winning.

    "We won 93 games. I talked to the guys after the game, and I told them that I was really proud of them. To be able to win 93 games with the injuries we had and some of the players we played, I couldn't be happier about the way we played in the regular season."

    Dierker brought up the possibility that he might be fired before he was asked about it during a postgame news conference. He said several times that while he'd like to return, he's comfortable that he has performed as well as he could.

    "Whether I'm here or not, I'm a lifer when it comes to the Astros," he said, "and I see good times ahead. It's really tough to play this long and then go out in three games.

    "I think that the record of our club since I've been manager has been good. I think we deserve another chance. Not only me, but the staff as well. The only thing I really feel sensitive to is the coaches. I've got another year, and I'm not in as vulnerable a position as some of the other guys.

    "I'm also very well-satisfied with the performance of the club in the last five years. Even though we haven't made it past the first round of the playoffs, I think that we have, as an organization, risen to a position where we are thought of as one of the top organizations of baseball. I certainly don't take credit for that, because I didn't sign the guys or develop them. But I think that once we've signed them and developed them and got them here, we've done a pretty good job with them when they got here as well."
  2. gr8-1

    gr8-1 Contributing Member

    Oct 5, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Screw Dierker. About Reynold's mistake, shi!t happens. If I were in Shane's shoes, I would challenge Bako also.

    Dierker is way too quick to criticize his players. Good bye Larry, although 4 out of 5 central titles are great, I don't know why we have been so bad in the playoffs. Also, we get shutout at Enron way too often.
  3. Baqui99

    Baqui99 Contributing Member

    Jul 11, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Shoot. With the kind of talent Hunsicker's assembled, we should win a helluva lot more than just 4 division titles. Gerry built the Astros into a team with the most feared lineup in baseball.
  4. francis 4 prez

    francis 4 prez Contributing Member

    Aug 15, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Are you saying we should win more in the future or are you saying Dierker should have led us to more than 4.

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