Posted: Wednesday September 27, 2006 12:50PM; Updated: Wednesday September 27, 2006 5:27PM
True fish story
Craig Biggio likely will get his 3,000th hit and finish his career with the Astros.
Sources say Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria actually fired Joe Girardi -- for a little while, anyway -- right after Girardi forcefully told Loria to stop screaming at home plate umpire Larry Vanover. And that Loria had to be talked into letting Girardi manage out the year by a couple of coaches and front-office people.
Loria also wanted a public apology from Girardi at the time, to which Girardi responded, "I'm not going to do that." Girardi's refusal to do so may have helped trigger the smear campaign launched against him (as detailed Monday in this space), not to mention sealing his fate to be fired after doing a terrific job at everything but sucking up to the bosses.
Since it was Loria who handpicked Girardi when general manager Larry Beinfest preferred Braves third base coach Fredi Gonzalez, Girardi is down to no front-office supporters with power. It appears only a matter of time before Gonzalez gets Girardi's job.
Around the majors
Craig Biggio probably will re-sign with the Astros shortly after the season ends, if not before. Biggio seeks a raise from the $4 million he's making, and increased revenues, expiring contracts (between Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Jeff Bagwell, the Astros may have an extra $40 million to spend) and owner Drayton McLane's interest in having Biggio get his 3,000th hit as an Astro gives him leverage after Biggio has cost himself over the years with his overt loyalty, continually saying he wouldn't want to play elsewhere. Biggio has 2,926 hits, and from here it looks like he also has a spot reserved in Cooperstown.
No matter what happens now, the Cardinals don't really deserve to be in the playoffs. They're the 2005 Padres.
The 2006 Pads are much improved, thanks to some terrific acquisitions. Kevin Towers isn't the numbers-loving bookish sort Padres president Sandy Alderson is believed to prefer, but Towers has made so many productive moves this year -- acquiring Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Cameron, Cla Meredith, Josh Bard, Mike Piazza for $2 million -- that he is sure to have improved his status in the Padres' crowded hierarchy. Speaking of Meredith, one scout, noting how he "tied by [Albert] Pujols so bad" in Monday night's game, views him as a star in the making.
Towers recently asserted in an interview that he isn't uncomfortable with the new top-heavy front-office setup. Yet it's understandable that Towers, Randy Smith and manager Bruce Bochy have for the first time pondered futures elsewhere. (Towers interviewed for the Diamondbacks' GM job, Smith was considered for the Royals' GM job and Bochy has questioned aloud whether San Diego is the right place for him.)
My assertion that the Marlins annually rip off the Cubs in trades came with a short memory. Several e-mailers pointed out that the Cubs got Derrek Lee from Florida for Hee Seop Choi.
The argument that Pujols should be MVP and not Ryan Howard because the Cardinals are a playoff team and the Phillies aren't could turn completely on its head in the next five days.
My take: They're both in the race, so they're both under serious consideration. My pick: Howard.
Looks like A's GM Billy Beane was right to wait and watch his guys get healthy. Rich Harden looked plenty healthy in the clincher at Seattle.
I often wonder what umpire Bob Davidson is looking at and, more to the point, who let him back in after he was part of the failed umpire walkout. His "swing'' call on Miguel Tejada on Tuesday night was wrong enough that even Yankees announcer Ken Singleton didn't think much of it. On the plus side, most of the umpires -- especially guys like Randy Marsh, Jim Joyce, Tim Tschida and Tim McClelland -- are excellent.