Astros GM Purpura”s Precarious Dilemma

By Joe Booker
Updated: March 25, 2006

TEXAS—Tim Pupura, the second year general manager of the Houston Astros is put in a precarious dilemma. Purpura was the general manager when the Astros failed to sign center fielder Carlos Beltran. He is now dealing with the Jeff Bagwell situation. For Purpura, it was the “best of times” and it was the “worst of times.” The best of times for Purpura was being the general manager who guided the club to its first World Series in franchise history. It is the worst of times—dealing with the Bagwell dilemma.

Purpura’s timing to become the general manager of the Houston Astros could not have come at a worst time. Well, not altogether. Under his leadership the Astros played in its first World Series in franchise history.

The buck stops with team owner Drayton McLane. “The boss is never wrong.” Regardless how deals fall through, it is the general manager that fans usually blame when things go wrong.

Purpura is one of the finest front office executives in professional sports and should not be allowed to be the scapegoat for anything that happens in the Jeff Bagwell dilemma.

It was Purpura’s patience when the team went on a big tail spin that allowed the team to bounce back and go to their first World Series in club history. He had faith that the team could bounce back, even though some media had declared them dead. Most GM’s would have panic and made hasty decisions that would have been detrimental to the club.

Bagwell has been one of the best all around first basemen to ever play the game. He could run, hit, field and he could do them all well. He is a proud man. With odds against him returning to the Astros, he goes about his business in the same manner that made him one of t he games’ best players for over 10 years. He has put up some good numbers—449 home runs, 529 runs batted in during a 14-year career. It has taken a lot just for him to throw the ball across the diamond to another base. The last five seasons he has played with pain, but that has not allowed him to give up.


I gained a lot of respect for Bagwell when he was the only Astros player that Volunteered to play in a benefit basketball game at Texas Southern. Enos Cabell was the athletic director at Texas Southern and had asked several athletes to participate in the basketball fund-raiser. Bagwell did not hesitate when asked to play. He has always been cooperative when I asked for in interview.

The Astros should not be the bad guy for taking out an insurance policy on Bagwell. Baseball is a business and Drayton McLane is a businessman. He did not become a billionaire by making bad financial decisions. This should not be a personal attack on Bagwell. Regardless if Bagwell plays another inning of professional baseball, he will get his $17 million plus deferred money. So, don’t cry any tears for Bagwelll. He will go to the bank smiling.

The Astros have been very good to Bagwell. They allowed him to play in the World Series, despite been warned that it could hurt their chances to collect on the insurance claim. The Astros never complained when his arthritic right shoulder prevented him from having a productive season.