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Friday's Three Astros Things

Talking about Lance Berkman, defensive shifts and the Biogenesis whistleblower...

Some things to talk about while we start a Fan Action Committee to woo free agents this winter...

1) Lance Berkman retiring?

Look, I was completely on board with Houston going after Lance Berkman last winter. He made a lot of sense and would have made this season a lot more fun, just with his presence alone. Except his performance for the Rangers suggests even spending money on Big Puma wouldn't have staved off disaster this season.

How bad has it been for Berkman? He's considering retirement. Like right now.

"I’ve definitely thought about it," Berkman said of shutting down for the remainder of the season. "But I haven’t reached any final decisions on it. Hopefully I’ll do the best that I can and help the team. It could also depend on what the team’s needs are. This is an uncertain time of the year for everybody."

It's a shame that Berkman's borderline Hall of Fame career is ending like this. He was part of plenty of memorable games in Houston over the past decade and it would have been nice to see him in the limelight one last time.

Still, Berkman is a perfect example of how free agency won't automatically fix your roster, with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton on the other side. Please, now, let's all get worked up in the comments again over why Houston failed by not spending $20 million more last winter.

2) Shifty business

Over at Bill James Online, John Dewan has an update on how shifty teams are this year. Would it surprise you to learn that Houston isn't in the Top 5 most shifty teams in the game right now? Those would be:

Team Number of Shifts Shift Runs Saved
Orioles 344 10
Pirates 335 7
Yankees 302 0
Rays 299 9
Red Sox 291 8

Notice also that those are five of the most successful teams in the majors. Are you reading this, Lucas Harrell?*

*Please don't point out that the Dodgers and Cardinals are in the bottom five of the league. It kills my point.

To me, that list isn't as fascinating as the one here on the rise of shifts overall in the league over the past three years.

2013 Projected
2,465 2,358 4,577 7,586

Those are the number of plays when a ball was put into play and a shift was deployed. That's a pretty steady dose of the shift, but there's been an explosion in the past two years. Look that the numbers projected for this year.

Is the shift a new craze, or are there more smart teams that realize what Houston does, that it pays to shift not just on the most extreme cases, but whenever your data suggests a tendency is present?

3) More on Biogenesis

T.J. Quinn over at ESPN has a profile up on Porter Fisher, the man responsible for turning over the Biogenesis materials in the first place. It's a pretty grim read, as his role as whistleblower has resulted in some unfortunate consequences for his personal life:

"I don't have any friends anymore," Fischer said. "The people that I thought were my friends ended up abandoning me or they side with the things they've seen in the media and read that because I've tried to stay quiet.

"I don't go to the same locations I used to go to. My blinds are closed all the time. I have a concealed weapons permit, but now I continually carry a weapon. It's not what I expected. It's not what I got involved for."

What's also fascinating is that Fisher claims all four sports have athletes who are connected to the clinic in Florida that started this whole mess, but at this point, the NBA and NFL have not shown interest in collecting names from the material.