H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

H-Town's Mr. 3,000

The Chronicle is abuzz (Ha! Get it?) today about the 3,000 lb. elephant in the Astros clubhouse these days. No, it's not whether Brad Lidge should be institutionalized for his own good every time a Pujols highlight rolls on SportsCenter. The question is, should the 'Stros keep playing Craig Biggio as he closes in on 3,000 hits despite his faltering production? And here's another less schmaltzy article from Lopez on the quandary facing the Astros.

I think this is an open-and-shut case. Craig Biggio has meant more to this franchise than anyone in Astros history. Yes, even more than Jeff Bagwell. Bidge has repeatedly taken less money to stay in Houston when he's been eligible for free agency; hell, he'll take less to stay here again. The man, a total pillar of the community and its baseball team, is a mere eighty-four (84) hits away from one of the most celebrated achievements in all of sport. He's been loyal to the organization when he didn't have to be, and it's time to return the favor.

Yes, I know Chris Burke should be playing every day. And I know he's probably the best second baseman on the roster. I'm also aware that Biggio has hit below the Mendoza Line on the road this season (.174 with a .246 OBP). I don't care. The Astros have a moral obligation to re-sign Craig Biggio and to give him enough opportunities to get to 3,000. You won't see me mention "moral" and "sports" in the same breath many times, but this is the exception to that rule. If getting Bidge to 3,000 means you platoon him, so be it. If that means he gets the nod at Minute Maid and sits out most of the road tilts, that's fine too. But it would be a complete disgrace for the organization to turn its back on someone who has never conducted himself with anything but class and dignity while embodying all that is right about baseball for nineteen (19!) seasons.

Professional sports are little more than an auction 99% of the time. Players generally go to the highest bidder, and that's their right. We here in the real world are no different. If a better job or more money exists elsewhere, the vast majority of us Joe Six-Pack types would go after it without giving it a second thought. It's one of the few parallels between professional athletes and the rest of the population. So when someone makes the conscious decision to chase the intangibles of happiness, family, and community over the benjamins, it should be celebrated. Craig Biggio did that. And now it's time for the Houston Astros to hold up their end of the bargain. I can tell you this, though--wherever Craig Biggio is when he's closing in on 3,000, I'm going to do my damndest to be in stands cheering him on. Regardless of the uniform he's wearing.


Blogger Scott said...

My gag reflex is overwhelmed. Spare me from the 'sacrifices' that Craig Biggio has made. Our military families make sacrifices. Firefighters and police officers make sacrifices. Craig Biggio is worshipped by (literally) millions of fans and has banked tens of millions of dollars playing a kids' game. I'm sure his mindful of his hand in life and appreciates it sincerely. But Bidge has become a sacred cow on this baseball team, and it is time for Houston to decide whether it wants to revel in its nostalgic past or try to make history in the immediate future by winning baseball games.

It's not just a home/road deal, either. Since the ASB, Bidge is hitting .190 overall. He hit .193 in August and is hitting .103 in September. He sank like an anchor last season as well (.288 pre-ASB, .237 post-ASB; .300 May, .276 June, .263 July, .245 August, .231 September). With RISP this season, he's hitting .217 and slugging .311. Leading off his OBP is .312, and hitting 2nd it is .318. Craig Biggio is no longer an everyday major leaguer. He is already a lock for the HOF, regardless of how many more hits he needs to reach the stupid 3,000 benchmark.

If Biggio will come back for $2M as a starter two days a week, then bring him back. That would give him about 50 starts and 100 pinch-hit ops, which should give him about 300 ABs in 2007. If he hits .250 in this reduced role, then he will hit the 3,000 mark. If he truly thinks he deserves more than that and is willing to snub his nose at the fans who made him the icon and the multi-millionaire that he is today and change jerseys for a chance at more ABs, then let him walk. No single player is larger than the franchise, and it is unquestionably time for the Astros to take that stand. If there was a void of talent at 2B, then maybe the Astros could make a straight-faced (but still losing) case for running Biggio out there five times a week in '07, but one of their most talented prospects is rotting away. You want more Biggio? Buy some videos. You want your team to succeed? Play Burke everyday.

Wed Sep 13, 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

"Sacrifice" is a relative term, and I'll be the first to admit that those who serve in the military, fire department, police department, or myriad other public service embody the definition of true sacrifice. Although rather tangential to the issue at hand, I'll thank you for the rip, Mr. Limbaugh.

I don't dispute that Bidge is likely no longer an everyday player. The numbers certainly seem to bear that out. But he should be given ample opportunity to achieve 3,000 hits. I'm not good with numbers, but I believe your proposal of him hitting .250 in 300 ABs would leave him nine (9) hits shy of the magic figure. I expect more accuracy from someone who salivates at the mere mention of "Bill" and "James" in the same sentence.

Wed Sep 13, 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

1. "Tangential", I agree, of course. But 99% of the Bidge-lovers believe as you wrote, that Bidge is somehow owed something for playing for the Astros his whole career. It's been a mutually beneficial relationship, and the Astros paid and treated Bidge awfully damn well for 20 years. There's no need for guilt on the organization's part.

2. We seem to agree, but I guess we'll quibble over what's meant by "ample opportunity". Something tells me, especially considering the fact that Bidge and Johnny Aggie co-wrote that cover story in the Chronicle today, that Bidge is not going to consider a promise of 300 ABs as "ample". If he does, then he absolutely deserves it and probably will prove to be an excellent role player. If he does not, then sayanora.

3. I love that you did the math on my estimate. I intentionally award Craig nine more hits for this season, which is where the difference lies. However, I realize now that doing so was probably a little too optimistic. I'll give him five hits in September, leaving him 79 short. Let him start 30% of the 162 in '07 (48 games) and average 4 ABs per night, plus PH opps in 100 of the remaining 114 games, and he's got 292 ABs. So he's going to need to hit .270...no one said 3,000 hits was going to be easy!

Wed Sep 13, 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I haven't seen flip-flopping like this since the 2004 presidential race. Welcome to the Bidgewagon, Scott.

Wed Sep 13, 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

WHAT?!?! Not a single J. F. Kerry on my side. I said in my first comment that Bidge should be welcomed back as a bit player, and I believe that. I bet that if he played part-time, his averages would be significantly better. My prediction: Bidge signs a 1 year, $3.5M deal, starts 120 games, hits .240 with 15 homers and 30 doubles and Burke rides the pine. Oh, and Wandy's in the opening day rotation.

Wed Sep 13, 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...


Well, Craig's cheap PR ploy worked! Now he's got Drayton slobbering in the paper about how desperately the Astros love Craiggy Poo and need him back next year. Mission Accomplished, Bidge! If you're walking to our car in the offseason and get clobbered in the knees by a kid in a Go Vols hat and a #2 Astros jersey, I won't be surprised. Now the only question is how much he's going to get in ransom payments.

Wed Sep 13, 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I shudder at the depths Scott would plunge to if Ben Zobrist was still an Astro and Bidge the incumbent SS.

Wed Sep 13, 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

When I said "our" car, I meant "your" car. I doubt Bidge will be walking to "our" car anytime soon. Zobrist stinks. He's hitting like .240.

Wed Sep 13, 03:30:00 PM  
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