Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Astros trade Mark Melancon, get a shortstop

Have a seat, Angel Sanchez. The Astros have a new shortstop, Jed Lowrie.

Jeff Luhnow has apparently pulled the trigger on a trade with the Red Sox sending 2011 closer Mark Melancon to Boston for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.

Jed Lowrie answers the question of "Who in the hell is going to play shortstop?" A definite upgrade over Angel Sanchez, Lowrie has hit .252/.324/.408 in parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. His breakout year was in an injury-shortened 2010, when he hit .287/.381/.526 in 55 games, with 25K:25BB.

In 88 games for Boston in 2011, he regressed, hitting .252/.303/.382. Fire Brand of the American League has a review of Lowrie's 2011, with this money-quote:
Certainly, if you think this is a good buy-low situation, then now is a good time to get in. Depending on who you talk to, in 2011 Lowrie is everything from a 4-win shortstop to an injury-riddled super-utility. If I were dealing for him, I would bet the latter.

I didn't watch the Red Sox in 2011, because they play in an inferior league, but I feel like Lowrie's promise is an upgrade over Angel Sanchez' existing skill set.

Kyle Weiland is a 25-year old 6'4" 195lb RHP from Albuquerque, and was the Red Sox' 3rd Round pick in 2008. He appared in seven games (five starts) for the Red Sox in 2011, pretty much getting beat up (7.66 ERA/1.66 WHIP), but in 90 minor-league appareances (85 starts), has a 3.51 ERA/1.22 WHIP, with a 2.49 K:BB ratio. In Triple-A in 2011, Weiland threw 128.1IP, allowing 108H/51ER, 126K:55BB.

Sox Prospects says:
90-95 MPH fastball that comes in two-seam and four-seam varieties. Two-seamer has excellent late life and arm-side run. Attacks the zone with solid-average command of his fastball. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes with it and uses both sides of the plate, but can leave it up on occasions. 78-81 MPH curveball has made strides since signing.

WEEI's Alex Speier has this excellent article on Weiland, where Red Sox pitcher Andrew Miller says:
“From what I understand, they always thought, ‘He was a closer in college and maybe he’ll be a reliever again.’ But what I’ve seen from him as a starter, he’s certainly got the ability and stuff to do it. It’s good that he’s getting the opportunity. He’s earned it – especially this year. At a certain point, if he’s able to have success in Triple-A as a starter, he’s able to hold his velocity, maybe you think, ‘Oh, maybe he’s a starter.’

The Astros of course are (reportedly) losing Mark Melancon, the 26-year old closer acquired from the Yankees in the 2010 Berkman trade, and 20 saves. With Brandon Lyon and his millions expected to be back (and healthy-ish), Melancon was expendable, and the 2012 Astros need a shortstop more than they needed Melancon. Jed Lowrie is under team control until 2015 (Arbitration-eligible this off-season), and Weiland is under team control until 2018.

Who does this affect most on the current roster? Brandon Lyon gets his job back (presumably). Jimmy Paredes stays at 3rd, and Jonathan Villar now has the luxury of having time to develop. It also may pave the way for a Wandy/Myers trade, as the Astros have Weiland waiting in the wings for the rotation.