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NL Central: It's Time to Bench Biggio
Everyone's waiting. Prized outfield prospect Hunter Pence -- arguably the Astros' finest hitting prospect since Lance Berkman -- is waiting. So are second baseman-turned-outfielder Chris Burke, All-Star second baseman Mark Loretta and the entire city of Houston. Everyone's waiting for Craig Biggio to reach 3,000 hits. The march to the milestone has become an agonizing waddle.
Biggio is Houston's leadoff hitter and everyday second baseman, and he is hitting .237 with a .284 on-base percentage. This is not simply the case of a slow start; last year, the 41-year-old hit .264/.325/.468, and only .178/.253/.388 on the road. His speed is fading, and his defense is now subpar. The time has come: On the cusp of the 3,000 hits, Craig Biggio must sit. Biggio should no longer be an everyday player. The punchless Astros rank 22nd in the majors in runs scored and have scored two runs or fewer in five of their first 19 games, and Biggio isn't helping.
The Astros, however, look committed to playing their icon daily until he joins the 3K-hit club, and even more perplexing, Phil Garner is committed to having Biggio bat leadoff. Meanwhile, Pence, who hit .571 with eight extra base hits in 28 spring training at-bats last month, is slicing up pitchers at Triple-A Round Rock -- he doubled three times on Tuesday to raise his average to .342 -- and has scouts saying he's a young Dale Murphy ready to rake in The Show. (His fate is tied to the seven-time All-Star because Burke has been pushed to center field by Biggio.)
Meanwhile, Houston is fading fast in the NL Central -- not to mention in the Roger Clemens sweepstakes.
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Labels: NL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Houston does not have the pitching to contend this year even if they won the RC sweepstakes. So let Biggio get his 3K in peace. It will be the only accomplishment for the Stros this year.
If the Stros do bench Biggio, who will replace him? Chris Burke (.230), his heir apparent the last two seasons, is looking terrible both at the plate and in the field, and the Astros most valuable player so far might be Mike Lamb (.360/.484/.520), who only has 31 PAs. The Stros have no choice but to tough out this stretch and hope for the offence to pick up (Pence's callup should help and Berkman's return to form will make them almost average), Jason Jennings to return, and maybe this is greedy but Lidge to look somewhat like his old self.
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AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
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