Disgracing Duct Tape
added 3/14/2002 by Raymond Desadier
Number 28 can still be seen in Astros camp, but it’s on a gangly string bean. Adam Everett meant nothing but respect when he chose to don the number of the recently retired Bill Spiers, but he would probably be the first to tell you that he, nor anyone in that camp could or would replace Mr. Utility.
I feel that the best representation of what a contribution Bill Spiers made to this team was what he did in a game during the forgettable 2000 campaign. He came to the plate with the sacks full, and had already hit a home run earlier in the game. Not known for his power no one would have guessed that he would have sent a pitch into the right field seats and the Astros to victory. But he did.
Spiers just did things. He played third, short, second, first and even patrolled the outfield. He gave a drunken fan a piggyback ride one time, despite a bad back. Best of all, he would almost always come through for Houston in a pinch.
So, when the Astros brought in a lifetime .254 hitter who hit .236 last year and had the nerve to say he could replace the Great Bill Spiers, I was appalled. Nothing against Geoff Blum mind you, who is valuable since he is a switch hitter who can play multiple positions, but to say he could replace someone like Spiers is insanity.
If there is anyone in the major leagues who could even think about filling such shoes, it would be Joe McEwing of the New York Mets. Hopefully when the Mets’ attempt at a pitching staff flounders through the first two months, Gerry Hunsicker will call his former employer to inquire about this scrappy sparkplug. How about Dave Mlicki for McEwing? If need be, throw in the overrated Wilfredo Rodriguez.
One thing is certain – Bill Spiers has left a void that will be nearly impossible to fill.
Earlier this spring I wrote about the intrigue of the battle for the opening(s) in the Astros relief corps. As advertised, it has been the best show to watch since Chris Truby and Morgan Ensberg came stumbling out of the blocks and Adam Everett went uncontested for the first several games due to an injury to Julio Lugo.
The front-runners are C.J. Nitkowski (southpaw), Ricky Stone (4 scoreless innings) and Brad Lidge (4 scoreless), followed by Brandon Puffer (3 scoreless), Jim Mann (5 IP, 1 ER), Scott Linebrink (5 IP, 2 ER) and Pete Munro (3 1/3, 0 ER). Mann, Linebrink and Munro have an edge of experience on Lidge and Puffer.
I was glad to see no more time was wasted on Chuck McElroy, and would like to see the same fate for T.J. Mathews who has fooled no one but the Astros management (7 innings, 8 ER). Sure it is still early, but there is no way to sugar coat Mathews stats – he has been that bad.
If Hipolito Pichardo can ever get healthy, and stay that way, he too has a good shot at making the team (2 scoreless innings).