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News Roundup: Sanchez's Debut, Bucs Deal MacFarland, Astros Make Moves

After having lunch with Pat in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon, checking out Big Ass Manatee in Morgantown Saturday night, and watching the Steelers at Heinz Field last night, I'm now back in California, where I should be able to return to posting at least a couple times a day.

Some notes:

-P- Jim Tracy brought in Romulo Sanchez with a 4-3 lead in the seventh yesterday, because that's exactly the right time for a very marginal reliever to make his major league debut. Luckily for Tracy, Sanchez didn't go all Marty McLeary out there - he walked Chris Burke and got Hunter Pence to ground into a double play before Tracy replaced Sanchez with Damaso Marte. If yesterday was any indication, Sanchez has superb stuff but no idea where it's going. His fastball comes in at 95 with good movement and he has a good slider, but he can't place it at all.

-P- The Pirates sent pitcher Steve MacFarland to the Giants to complete the Matt Morris deal. The PTBNL in that deal was reportedly supposed to come from the Bucs' 40-man roster, but MacFarland, a 2006 draftee, wasn't on it. MacFarland has had serious control problems in the low minors and doesn't, to my knowledge, have great stuff, so for now I'll say he isn't a prospect. It wouldn't shock me if the Giants saw some obvious mechanical flaw or something that turned him into one, though. That'd be just like the Pirates to miss something like that and get burned for it.

-P- The Astros have canned GM Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner. Team president Tal Smith will be Houston's interim GM and former bench coach Cecil Cooper will be its interim manager. I don't know much about Garner, but I do feel for Purpura, who has had to deal with an impossible situation. The team he inherited after taking over as GM in the 2004-2005 offseason was talented but filled with all kinds of veterans: overpaid veterans, perpetually injured veterans, fading veterans, veterans with a stranglehold on the hearts and minds of the fans and ownership, and so on.

Purpura has had to deal with an enormous Jeff Bagwell contract that seemed like it would never end, a Craig Biggio who just wouldn't retire already, a Roger Clemens who waited until May of each year before deciding whether or not to play, an enigma of a third baseman in Morgan Ensberg, and a minor league system that didn't have a whole lot in it when he took over. Purpura has done some dumb things - like hanging on to Brad Ausmus and signing Woody Williams - but the Astros' implosion was just a matter of time.