The Astros are reportedly interested in signing Bill Hall. Ed Wade mentioned Hall’s name when discussing an upgrade at second base as an offseason wish. Jeff Keppinger is the incumbent second baseman on Houston’s roster. Keppinger led the Astros in OBP in 2010 and had a total line of .288/.351/.393.
Bill Hall was fantastic in 2005 and 2006. The key? Those were a long time ago. In fact, he’s compiled 1,698 plate appearances since and has been, well, let’s say ‘less than fantastic’. Over that span, he’s hit .233/.296/.405. The .405 almost redeems him as Hall has still shown good pop. Not the pop that led to 35 homeruns in 06 but he’s still averaged 14 a season since in just 123 games per season.
The power is no question an improvement but can the Astros afford to lose 50 points in average and OBP? The answer is no. One place Bill Hall makes sense for a major league team is the bench; in a utility role. However, Houston’s bench is actually one of their bigger strengths. With Barmes and Keppinger starting, the Astros have Tommy Manzella, Angel Sanchez, and Edwin Maysonet who can all play above average defense in the infield, and Brian Bogusevic, Jason Michaels, and possibly Jason Bourgeois in the outfield. Bill Hall absolutely does not fit the Astros needs and I haven’t even gotten to the fact of his age and contract.
Last season, as a 30 year old, Hall made $8.525 million. Now, he certainly won’t make that in 2011 but even half of that figure would be way too much for a utility/bench guy on the wrong side of 30.
Adding power to a lineup with very limited punch a year ago is a good idea. In fact, not exploring options to do so would be irresponsible. But Bill Hall isn’t the guy. What about Jack Cust? Cust has more power than Hall, has a career OBP of .378, and is cheaper. Cust would be a left-handed bat in a right-hand dominated lineup. Cust can play left and Carlos Lee can play first while Brett Wallace gets some more seasoning in the minors.
Ed Wade, if you’re reading this (and I can only assume you are), please don’t sign Bill Hall.