The Houston Chronicle is reporting Craig Biggio has signed a one year deal for a little over $5 million–which most likely means $5 million plus incentives. A news conference is scheduled for today. According to Barry Axelrod, Biggio’s agent, a bonus for reaching the 3,000 hit mile stone was never discussed and the incentives in the contract are for plate appearances and RBIs.
Alyson Footer is also reporting on the team’s website that an overhaul is possible in 2007. According to Footer, the Astros discussed possible trade partners for ugrades at the catcher and shortstop positions as well as decisions that must be made at the corner outfield and 3rd base positions, specifically naming Ensberg, Lane and Scott.
A big bat to protect Berkman in the lineup remains a top priority, but veteran starting pitching and a second lefty for the bullpen are right on its heels. Even if Andy Pettitte signs a contract in the next 4-6 weeks, the Astros need to fill the gap left with Brandon Backe’s surgery and Clemens’ possible return in June. That void will most likely be partially filled with a veteran free agent like Woody Williams or Randy Wolf. However, the Astros would ideally like to have four veterans to start off the year and this year free agent pitchers are few and far between. Trading Ensberg or Lane along with a couple of the rookie pitchers for veteran pitching may be the only avenue left for the Astros.
In other news, the Astros interviewed former hitting coach Gary Gaetti for the Round Rock Express managerial job. Gaetti had previously managed the Astros AAA club before taking over as the hitting coach for the major league team in July 2004. He was fired at the 2006 All Star Break and replaced by ex-Astros player and roving hitting instructor Sean Berry.
Jim Hickey, the Astros pitching coach, fired at the end of 2006 season, has found new employment. Jerry Hunsicker, the Devil Rays Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations has hired him as the pitching coach for the AAA affiliate in Durham.