Some things to talk about while we check on Lance Berkman's biggest hits...
1) On Brett Wallace and the front office
Most of my "meh" opinion on Houston designating Brett Wallace for assignment was expressed in Thursday's post. But, I wanted to hit on a couple more points. First up, though I didn't say it explicitly, Wallace could stick around for a while. Amador might get most of the first base time in OKC this year, but Wallace could fill in from the bench at third, first, short, wherever.
Second, I have to take issue with a fellow TCB writer/podcaster extraordinaire. If you listen to the podcast (not that one Tim does with Astros County that he seems to love more than us losers on the "original" one now), you know Sean and I don't always see eye to eye. Which is good, as always agreeing makes for boring radio/podcasting.
Here's what Sean said last night that I disagree with:
Last year we kept Wallace and let Freiman go, but a year later we DFA Wallace? We really need to a better job of evaluating our own talent.— Sean Feist (@native_astro) February 6, 2014
The point is, how is Wallace so much worse than he was a year ago? My answer is twofold. Obviously, the situation isn't that simple. Last season, Wallace still had a slight bit of upside while Freiman was good but untested. Though Freiman performed pretty well in 204 plate appearances for the A's, Wallace put together another 285 terrible PAs with the Astros.
He still needs about 400 PAs to get to 1,500 in his career, when we have a much clearer picture of the kind of pro he could be. But, we have a very good idea of who Brett Wallace is as a player, and he's not very good. He has upside, sure, but that's so small right now, it's nearly invisible.
More than just having more data to evaluate guys by, we shouldn't be holding the front office accountable for this move as being glad they did it themselves. How many times have we talked about Wally's links to Luhnow from St. Louis? How many times have we speculated on those links getting him second and third chances?
Heck, we were all pretty surprised when he wasn't dumped before the Rule 5 protection deadline. That he's gone now suggests Houston isn't going to fall in love with a player. Anyone can be evaluated and shipped off it it benefits the team.
In short, the Astros adjusted their expectations and evaluation of Wallace and made a move to help the team. It's not a big deal, but isn't it a good thing? It's a sign that they're doing the job of evaluating their own talent, not the opposite.
2) On the first base competition and Bo Porter
Now that we have rehashed the Wallace stuff again, let's focus on why the Astros might have moved on to a different first baseman. At the panel for Astros bloggers at FanFest, Bo Porter was asked about platoons. Here's his answer:
I asked Bo about platoons. He would prefer to put 9 everyday players out on the field as much as possible, but will platoon to put the best bats in the lineup.
Pretty succinct. He prefers not to platoon. So, getting rid of Wallace gives Houston another roster spot when Porter might not use it for a strict platoon after all. Either Guzman gets to play more every day or someone like Marc Krauss or Japhet Amador steals the show.
Oh, and of course Jon Singleton will play eventually. Houston could still add players to the mix, but at this point, is there anyone out there who'd be an improvement over this motley group? No thanks, Justin Smoak. Looking at you, Ike Davis.
One of the biggest things to remember about this front office and management structure is that sabermetric robots don't run the show. The Astros are not going to be locked into one strategy and one alone. They listen to everyone. If Porter suggested he didn't love the idea of a first base platoon long-term, Houston then moves Wallace to the bottom of its roster.
3) On Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit game
File this under, "Who outside of Colorado knew?" but apparently Ryan Spilborghs is a bit of a dual threat. He's been blogging off and on about his time in professional baseball for a while for the Denver Post and recently decided to retire. His post is very good, as Spilborghs is a good writer. This section caught my eye:
I will never forget the day Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit in Houston. He ended up with five hits and we got walked off again in the midst of terrible road trip. It wasn't the fact that I always liked him as a player that I even remember this moment. It was that when everyone was cheering him in the middle of the diamond, he shrugged off the praise and simply gestured to his wife and kids, like the maestro of the orchestra that turns toward the audience and points toward his band as if to say don't cheer for me, these are the ones who made the music. I've cried several times at the baseball field, usually when service men and women surprise their children or family on the field after a tour of duty.
Biggio's gesture was another tearful moment for me. It was the "eureka!" realization for me, especially as a young man, that I have to thank people for their support of helping me chase this dream, that I did not do this alone. The simple fabric of these moments all were cut out of the same cloth. It ultimately comes down to family. A person cannot do what he loves without the support of his peers and family.
In all the HOF hullabaloo, we might lose sight of how classy both Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio were as stars of the franchise. Things may have gotten dicey for Bags in his personal life, but it rarely went public. Biggio, though, can inspire players on other teams.
That's pretty cool.
- Astros Boxes Podcast: Alyson Footer, Social Media and Lance Berkman
- Jerome Williams signing: Astros make it official, designate Brett Wallace for assignment
- The Freddie Freeman extension and how it impacts the Astros
- The Many GIFs of Dexter Fowler
- Astros Minor Leagues: Five underrated prospects not to ignore