So long, Brandon Backe
Brandon Backe, one of the most popular players wear to an Astros uniform in the past 10 years, appears to be done in Houston.
The hometown favorite was designated for assignment following Friday night’s game, meaning the Astros have 10 days to trade him or release him. Backe has the right to demand his release, and based on his comments late Friday it appears that will be what he’s going to do.
The departure of Backe leaves the Astros with only three remaining players from their 2005 World Series team — Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.
Backe was acquired from Tampa Bay in exchange for Geoff Blum on Dec. 14, 2003 and quickly became a fan favorite with his big-game performances and outward passion for the game.
He went 5-3 for the Astros in 2004 in mostly a relief role, before going 10-8 in the rotation in 2005. He struggled with injuries in 2006 before having Tommy John surgery, which cost him almost all of the 2007 season.
He came back healthy in 2008, but didn’t pitch well. He made 31 starts and was 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA, leading the league in earned runs (112) and home runs (36). Surprisingly, the Astros signed him to a $1.55 million contract for 2009, but he strained an intercostal muscle in spring and missed two months. By the time he returned, the Astros really had no use for him anymore with Felipe Paulino showing promise and Russ Ortiz pitching so well.
Backe was a hometown kid from Galveston who possessed great fire on the mound, but more than anything Astros fans will remember him for coming up huge in the playoffs.
In Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS, Backe held St. Louis to one hit over eight scoreless innings in a game the Astros eventually won on Jeff Kent‘s homer in the ninth. He held St. Louis to two hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the 2005 NLCS and delivered in the World Series that year, throwing seven scoreless innings agains tthe White Sox in Game 4.
Backe was understandably frustrated and disappointed over not getting a chance to rejoin the rotation this year after making six Minor League rehab starts. But the Astros have given Backe more than enough chances, including 31 starts last year, to prove he’s a capable Major League starter.
Thus, the Brandon Backe era appears to be over. Here’s hoping another team gives him a shot.