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AA-Statesman article on Chris Burke

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by TheFreak, May 28, 2007.

  1. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    Sucks about this guy. Didn't realize he was originally a leadoff man. Hey, at least Biggio's about to get 3000 hits.

    http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/other/05/27/0527bohls.html

    COMMENTARY: KIRK BOHLS

    Burke flustered by up-and-down career with Astros Back in Round Rock, Burke seeking express trip back to Astros
    After suffering in silence over a slow-starting career, promising prospect expresses doubts about future

    AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


    Sunday, May 27, 2007


    ROUND ROCK — No one would fault Chris Burke if he were looking for the blight at the end of the tunnel.

    Baseball has dealt him a bad hand, relatively speaking. OK, two pair. Any player who signed for an initial $2 million bonus, has a pretty wife, is expecting his first child in four months and has a job anywhere should count his blessings as much as he does his base hits.


    Burke does. And he's all about leaving the past in the past, even if he is revisiting it in a return trip to Round Rock.

    By now, the former first-round draft pick figured he'd be an established regular with the Astros. But all he's established is a tortured career in which he wonders if he's a 27-year-old, washed-up major-leaguer before he's barely made it through the rinse cycle. After all, he's played in a scant two-plus major-league seasons, counting 28 games this spring, and has played four times as often in the outfield as he has the middle infield, for which he was drafted. He's not even arbitration-eligible yet.

    He's played a position occupied by ironman Craig Biggio. When Astros second baseman Jeff Kent left for the Dodgers to raise Burke's hopes, Biggio moved from center back to second. After he was named the starting center fielder, Burke was bumped again after just a month when the sagging club needed offense and the savior (Hunter Pence) happened to play center field.

    Burke isn't bitter. Irritated, definitely. But bitter is for has-beens, never-weres and Jose Cansecos.

    "Everybody sees life from their own two eyes," Burke said. "The organization doesn't revolve around me."

    Revolve? At this stage, he wonders if it even includes him.

    And he told that to Astros general manager Tim Purpura and manager Phil Garner in a 30-minute rant two weeks ago, when he was told of his demotion to Triple-A. The thing he remembers most from that vent session?

    "Their silence," he said.

    It wasn't just because he did most of the talking.

    In a span of six weeks, Burke went from a job as the Astros' starting center fielder to the team's bench to the minor leagues. His head's still spinning.

    One day, he was playing for a Houston team that had won five straight games and was in first place. Six days — and six losses — later, he was mired in a 3-for-21 skid and was told Pence would take his place. The following Friday, he was sent down to Round Rock.

    "Inside, I'm boiling," he recalled. "I was hitting only .219 after 72 at-bats, but you can come up with an All-Star team with guys hitting .219 after 72 at-bats."

    His situation remains murky at best. While Pence has burst upon the scene as a Rookie of the Year candidate after only a month of Triple-A experience, Burke returns to the place where he was the team's MVP in 2003.

    As Garner said, Burke was the victim of some "rotten circumstances." The club understands his frustration. Purpura said Burke still figures in their plans as a second baseman or a corner outfielder and thinks he could play either in the bigs.

    Burke ought to do so now. Today. The Astros owe him some of the loyalty they've bestowed on the struggling Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane and Adam Everett. The club is hitting so poorly — 25th in the majors with a .247 average and no production from five positions — that Burke should return to the majors now to spell a slumping Biggio or break up the ineffective Lane-Luke Scott platoon in right field.

    "I felt like I was a little blindsided," Burke said before an Express game, munching on a banana-and-jelly sandwich. "I guess I overestimated my importance to the team. It's unfortunate the way things unraveled."

    He was drafted six years ago as a prized shortstop out of Tennessee. But the organization questions his arm strength and range. So he was groomed as the eventual replacement for Biggio.

    Problem is, Biggio hasn't wanted to be replaced. He continues his Hall of Fame career, just 29 hits shy of 3,000.

    But the Astros insist they would consider sitting Biggio, a fan favorite whose average hovers around .240, even before he gets his historic hit.

    "I wouldn't rule out any possibility," Purpura said. "I think there is a chance of that. We are trying to win."

    That would be welcome news to Burke, but he'll have to produce more than his current .176 average in Round Rock. Until then, he'll wonder what-if because the glut of second basemen in the majors probably preclude a trade to a better situation.

    "I was drafted as a middle infielder and leadoff hitter," he said. "The great majority of my career, I've played the outfield and hit at the bottom of the order.

    "If I had it to do it over, maybe I would have made a stink about a playing opportunity at shortstop or been more of a jerk, and they'd run me out of town. I'm more concerned with where I go from here. But my hope is I'm playing for the Astros for a long time."
     
  2. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    I wish they would waive Lane and bring him up. And I hope he gets a significant number of starts when Biggio gets 3,000.
     
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball Contributing Member

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    [QUOTE}
    Burke ought to do so now. Today. The Astros owe him some of the loyalty they've bestowed on the struggling Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane and Adam Everett. The club is hitting so poorly — 25th in the majors with a .247 average and no production from five positions — that Burke should return to the majors now to spell a slumping Biggio or break up the ineffective Lane-Luke Scott platoon in right field. [/QUOTE]

    So the solution is to replace crappy hitters with a crappy hitter? Genius! Although I can agree with the point about how Lane's been shown more loyalty, especially when he barely hit .200 last year and is even worse this year.

    The problem for Burke is that Loretta is better and would get the time at 2nd if they start sitting Biggio. If he gets back this year, it's likely to be in a RF rotation.
     
  4. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

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    Lane should be gone and soon. Get what you can for him at this point. He's doing nothing but taking up a roster spot.

    I understand Burke's point. I don't disagree with the move to bring Pence up. He's clearly proven his case and is a much better defensive outfielder. Burke definitely deserves his shot at an everyday position somewhere that he can succeed. CF wasn't it. A corner OF spot, maybe. Biggio is already beginning to slow and it's going to take even longer to get him to 3,000. It's time to bring Burke back and let him prove it good or bad. Loretta is there in case it's bad, plus he's getting plenty of playing time at 3rd and SS.

    On another note, while I am one of AE's biggest fans, it's time to make a decision on him. His average continues to drop like an anvil. He's finally gotten to the point where his defense simply does not out weigh his offense. This is probably where Loretta should be getting a majority of his time. AE continues to wow me with his glove and make me cry with his bat. With Ausmus and Biggio in the same lineup, you've got 4/9 that is pretty much an automatic out. With Berkman still struggling, it's just too much to overcome. Lee & Pence cannot carry this team, especially with the pitching failing as it has lately.
     
  5. Kerfeld

    Kerfeld Contributing Member

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    There is absolutely no reason why Jason Lane deserves to be on this team. He has had only one good half seaso (2005) and has done nothing since. There is a good a chance that Lane would clear waivers and the Astros could send him back to Round Rock.

    At the very least, they should have Burke playing 2b or SS at Round Rock. Burke deserves his shot. A legitimate shot.
     
  6. bigboymumu

    bigboymumu Member

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    Cut Lane! Bring back Burke.
     
  7. JunkyardDwg

    JunkyardDwg Contributing Member

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    Well this team needs to know if Chris Burke can be the everday first basemen..why not put him at 2nd when Biggio reaches 3,000 then keep rotating Loretta around the infield. If he pans out, there you go, if he doesn't then re-sign Loretta in the offseason and trade Burke away.
     
  8. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    great read...I think of the guys that should have gone down, it would have been Lane...That guy is a worse liability than anyone else...ONce Biggio gets his 3000th, put him on the bench...
     
  9. Buck Turgidson

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    Burke cannot play with regularity any position outside of 2B & LF. Eric Bruntlett has a essentially identical career OPS. Methinks Chris holds himself in too high regard, and that is not a new issue.
     
  10. Phil

    Phil Contributing Member

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    It's a sad story as it stands right now... and Burke isn't helping his case much the way he's hitting. THEN AGAIN, it's not a big drop off from what the current team has to show for itself. 9 straight losses...I think we just need to have half of our lineup replaced by some Express players - can't get any worse. It really can't.
     
  11. BigTex

    BigTex Member

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    if they dont want to cut lane they should at least cut palmeiro
     

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