July 2007

Not enough

Capt6e7955a209094f439c2d3226f202ab9fpadrThe trading deadline has passed, and in a somewhat recurrent fashion, the Astros didn’t cause a stir at all.

This Saturday we learned about Ty Wigginton coming to Houston from Tampa Bay (the lines of communication with Gerry Hunsicker are still open, alive and well). In order to give a roster spot for Wigginton,  Morgan Ensberg was designated for assignment. Ensberg finally ended up with the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.

Tampa Bay got Dan Wheeler, a good setup man who has even played as a closer during those moments in which serious doubts about Brad Lidge were raised for the first time. The Astros do not have exactly what we might call "a congestion of talent" in the bullpen. That’s why giving up a piece such as Wheeler indicate an order of priorities the club has and that might seem like a puzzle when we look at it for the first time.

Wigginton became a fan favorite with his happy and hustling style of baseball; however he has shown defensive flaws at Third. He might become a good complement to guys such as Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta, and hopefully, if things go well as planned, he might help them alongside Chris Burke, platooning in an attempt to make the absence of Craig Biggio just a bit easier for us.

Ensberg cannot complain about a lack of opportunities. Indeed, he had plenty of those with the Astros. Sadly, his health didn’t help him and his slump was a bit too long after all. He’s a good man, a classy player with a huge human quality, now he has a change of pace and mood, in his native California and with a contending team. In the end, life and baseball give him a wonderful opportunity to vindicate himself, something that the Astros cannot afford to give him anymore.

However, this doesn’t solve the structural problem the Astros have. I don’t mean to diminish what Wigginton might represent, but we are left with this sour taste and feeling that they could have done a bit more. Just a bit more.

Thanks Craig

Capt832e6ed6cc0842d2b762dee16904b7fcastrI must confess you, it wasn’t easy at all for me to watch the press conference in which Craig Biggio announced his retirement. It wasn’t because of the fact itself, fairly predictable. I guess it was a general thought that the second baseman would call it quits as soon as he reached 3.000 hits.

The hard part was because of the huge amount of sentiments found in this event. Looking at the Great Biggio with tears in his eyes, finding it very hard to express his words, alongside his sons thanking the organization and its fans for so many years of great memories.

The sentiments expressed by Drayton McLane and Tim Purpura were sincere and totally honest. I have no doubts about that at all. McLane and Purpura might have their virtues and flaws, but no one can accuse them of not loving their team.

When we wrote a piece for astrosdehouston.com on Biggio and his 3.000 hits, we tried to sum up his career; and beyond his numbers, and trust me, there are plenty of them, and quite remarkable, we find the intangibles, those things which made Biggio unique. His class on and off the field, his dedication to worthy causes, the respect he always showed for everyone.

I remember the first time I had to interview him, 3 years ago. I must tell you, I think I showed myself as professional as I can be, but it was extremely difficult for me to calm my nerves and making questions for someone who at a time I found unreachable for me, I won’t be embarrassed and tell you he was a childhood hero to me. Despite the fact I had to rephrase my questions several times, it was a pleasure for me, and he was always a gentleman and understood the fact I was a rookie reporter.

Craig Biggio will always be remembered as a baseball gentleman, and alongside that other great example named Jeff Bagwell, gave the Astros the unique identity they have today.

Now there will be a day in 2008 in which we won’t find Biggio and Bagwell on the field anymore. A fact of life, inevitable as it can be, but no less sad.

BIGGIO ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT, EFFECTIVE AT END OF 2007 SEASON

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to post this earlier, since we had some server issues here at MLBlogs, but here it is:

Franchise icon is in his 20th season with the Astros

HOUSTON, TX ? In a press conference held this afternoon at Minute Maid Park, longtime Houston Astro Craig Biggio announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2007 season.

The 2007 season is Biggio?s franchise-record 20th with the club, as he made his Major League debut on June 26, 1988.  In 2,798 career games, all with the Astros, Biggio has hit .282 (3,014×10,699) with 286 home runs and 1,156 runs batted in.  The career franchise leader in hits, he reached the 3,000-hit plateau with a 5-for-6 performance on June 28 of this year vs. the Colorado Rockies.  He ranks 24th all-time with 3,014 career hits.

The 41-year-old Biggio is also the Houston franchise career leader in games played, at-bats, runs scored, doubles, extra-base hits, and total bases.  On July 2, Craig Biggio became the 27th player all-time to reach the 1,000-extra-base hit plateau with a first-inning double.  Biggio is also the 13th player all-time with at least 3,000 hits and 1,000 extra-base hits and one of only two middle infielders on that list (Cal Ripken, Jr).

Biggio also ranks sixth on the Major League career list with 661 career doubles.   His 661 doubles are the most for any right-handed hitter in history, and Biggio is also the only player in MLB history to reach all of the following milestones: 600 doubles (661), 250 home runs (286), 2,700 hits (3,014), and 400 stolen bases (413).

Biggio was in the Opening Day lineup for a franchise-record 19 consecutive years from 1989-2007, and his seven selections to the NL All-Star squad are the most in Astros team history.  In 1992, he became the first player to make the All-Star team at both catcher (1991) and second base (1992).  Biggio received five NL Silver Slugger Awards (catcher ? 1989; second base-1994-95, 1997-98) and earned Rawlings Gold Glove Awards in four consecutive seasons from 1994-97.

Biggio has also spent the majority of his career taking an active role in the Sunshine Kids Organization, raising almost $2.5 million for the organization through the Sunshine Kids Celebrity Golf Classic.  He was the winner of the 1997 Branch Rickey Award, presented annually by the Rotary Club of Denver and the MLB Players Alumni to the player, manager, or executive who unselfishly contributes to the community.  Biggio also received the 2005 Hutch Award, given annually by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  The award is presented in honor of the late ballplayer Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer at the age of 45, to a Major League Baseball player who ?best exemplifies Hutch?s fighting spirit and competitive desire.?

In 1998,  Biggio helped lead the club to the second of three consecutive NL Central titles, hitting a career-best .325 with 51 doubles, 20 home runs, 88 RBI, and 50 stolen bases, joining Hall of Famer Tris Speaker as the only players in the 20th century to collect 50 doubles and 50 steals in the same season.  Biggio followed that campaign with 56 doubles in 1999, becoming the sixth player in Major League history with consecutive 50-double seasons.  Additionally, Biggio holds the modern record (since 1900) for times hit by a pitch with 285.

The Astros have made six postseason appearances during Biggio?s career, including NL Central Division Championships four times (1997-98-99-2001) and consecutive NL Wild Card berths in 2004 and 2005.  The 2005 Astros won the franchise?s first NL Championship and advanced to the World Series, where Biggio became the player with the most career games (2,564) before appearing in his first Fall Classic.  During that 2005 postseason, Biggio led all players with 18 hits and 11 runs scored while hitting .295 (18×61).

Additionally, Biggio holds the National League record with 51 career leadoff home runs and ranks second all-time in the category, trailing only Rickey Henderson (81).

The end is near…

Apbbnastros092998It’s the end of an era. Today, at  3 PM Central Time, Astros legend Craig Biggio will announce his retirement. Here’s the press release from Astros media.

MEDIA ALERT

ASTROS INFIELDER CRAIG BIGGIO TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE AT 3 PM TODAY (TUESDAY, JULY 24) AT MINUTE MAID PARK

WHO:                   Craig Biggio, Houston Astros

                              

WHAT:                Press Conference ? Major Announcement

WHEN:                TODAY

                                Tuesday, July 24, 2007             

                                3:00 p.m.

WHERE:             MINUTE MAID PARK

                                Press Conference Room

                                **Media should enter through the South Home Plate gate on Texas Ave.

(Media Entrance)

We’ll give you all our thoughts and perspective right after the conference.

Zambrano. Again.

Capt64ca9026dbb248ac98747260255cf31ecubsIf there’s something that can be said about the Astros in this recently concluded first half is that they have been inconsistent, in every level and aspect of the game. Hitting, pitching, defense, you name it…

In this sea of uncertainty, there’s always something consistent. And in this case, I’m saddened to say it’s Carlos Zambrano.

You might remember that last year, if there’s something the Venezuelan hurler did quite well, is dominating the Astros. He did it at Minute Maid, in a brilliant game… for him. For the Astros, and for us, never hiding where our heart is, it became a sleep-inducing ordeal.

Today was more of the same. Two key errors, and Zambrano goes for 6.2 innings in which he disposed the Astros at ease, allowing 3 hits and going for the partial shutout, striking out 7.

Zambrano makes a bold case for a NL Cy Young award. In the meantime, what else can we talk about, when a man dominates a ballclub in such a consistent way…