Why on earth is Craig Biggio above steroid suspicion?

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Here we have Bill Madden’s latest gem of a column, which contains enough strawmen to fill up Citi Field. In it, he promotes Jack Morris and Craig Biggio for the Hall of Fame, and while he doesn’t unequivocally state that they are the only two players he is voting for, the column certainly suggests it.

I’ve tackled Morris before and will again tomorrow, but let’s concentrate on Biggio for a moment. Biggio is being promoted by Madden and others as this year’s clean candidate, whereas his longtime Astros teammate, Jeff Bagwell, has had his candidacy tainted by steroids.

What I don’t get is why one if not the other?

The case against Bagwell is that he showed little power as a youngster, befriended noted steroids user Ken Caminti, got a lot stronger in the majors and then turned into one of the game’s best players.

And that differs from Biggio how? Biggio hit four homers in 555 at-bats at age 24, four homers in 546 at-bats at age 25 and six homers in 613 at-bats at age 26 before turning in the first of seven 20-homer campaigns at age 27.  His career high of 26 homers came at age 39.

Furthermore, Bagwell and Biggio were good friends who spent 15 years as teammates. I have my doubts that the training methods of one were a secret to the other. If Bagwell was on something, one would think there’s a more than slight chance that Biggio was on it, too.

So why does Biggio get trumped up as clean? Because he was a middle infielder? Because he hit 20 homers per year rather than 40? I’ll give you that Biggio wasn’t quite as stacked as Bagwell in his prime, but the guy had some muscles.

Personally, I’m very much in favor of putting Biggio into the Hall, just as I’m in favor of Bagwell’s candidacy. Part of Biggio’s power spike can be attributed to him leaving the Astrodome for Enron Field/Minute Maid Park. Towards the end of his career, once he realized he could no longer cover the entire plate, he made a conscious decision to become more of a pull hitter and take aim at the shallow left field porch at Enron.

Biggio was a favorite of mine, and I’d like to think he spent his entire career steroid-free. My point here isn’t to label Biggio a cheater. It’s simply to say that we don’t know, and that anyone that would go to lengths to promote him as the clean candidate is either naive or stupid.

U.S Defeats World in a power-packed Futures Game

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They played the Futures Game yesterday, pitting the top prospects from the United States against the top prospects from the rest of the world. You most likely missed it because, for reasons that have still yet to be adequately explained to me, the game takes place on Sunday afternoon, when literally all 30 major league teams are in action. Oh well.

If you did happen to see it, however, you saw a lot of bombast, as the two teams combined for eight home runs, with Team USA prevailing, 10-6. It was the United States’ eighth win in the past nine Futures Games.

Yusniel Diaz of the Dodgers system hit two homers — he was the first one to do that in a Futures Game since Alfonso Soriano did it back in 1999 — but Taylor Trammell of the Reds system was the game MVP following his 2-for-2 (HR, 3B) performance. Other highlights involved Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, who threw 19 fastballs among his 27 pitches, each and every one of them hitting triple digits, with one registering at 103.1 m.p.h. Not that velocity is everything: a 102.3 m.p.h. pitch he threw ended up being deposited over the fence for a two-run homer by Luis Alexander Basabe of the White Sox system.

Also of note was a homer from Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pirates system. Notable for it breaking a tie and putting the U.S. up by two, but also notable because Ke’Bryan is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes. Feel old yet?

There was a lot of back and forth, and certainly a lot of bombast, but the U.S. took its final lead on a wild pitch. Here are some highlights:

Here’s hoping, in the future, the Futures Game is moved to Sunday evening or even Monday where people will have a better chance of seeing it.