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Options abound for Astros’ 2012 starting rotation

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by No Worries, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Options abound for Astros’ 2012 starting rotation

    Posted on December 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm by Zachary Levine

    General manager Jeff Luhnow’s acquisition of former Red Sox farmhand and major league dabbler Kyle Weiland as part of his first move has given the Astros 10 starting pitchers on their 40-man roster, and manager Brad Mills has said he’s going to give Weiland a chance in spring training.

    Last year’s race for the starting rotation was a little bit of a rigged affair, if you’ll remember, with the spots basically determined to the point where performance in spring training meant little.

    So don’t expect a fair fight, but do expect these 10 names at least to be given some starting pitchers’ innings in the spring. An assessment of where the 10 stand a week out from the trade and two months before Kissimmee:

    (Ages as of opening day, with 2011 stats)

    LHP Wandy Rodriguez

    Age 33

    30 G (30 GS) 11-11, 3.49 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

    Why? He should get the opening-day nod, which would be the first of his going-on-eight-year career.

    Why not? Of the Astros’ three highest-salaried players — Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee — Rodriguez is the easiest to move if Luhnow sees fit to accelerate the shedding of payroll and rebuilding of the farm system. After the last of the free-agent pitchers are out of the way, teams losing those sweepstakes could get desperate and offer up something good for Rodriguez’s remaining three years and $36 million in payroll obligations.

    RHP 
Bud Norris

    Age 27

    31 G (31 GS) 6-11, 3.77 ERA, 3.4 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

    Why? Norris has evolved into a steady starter in the midst of rotation chaos. Pay no attention to the 6-11 record, a true shame considering his other numbers.

    Why not? He quits the game to take his golfing habit professional? Seriously, he’ll be in the rotation unless the Astros are overwhelmed with an offer. There have been no indications he’s being shopped.

    RHP 
Kyle Weiland

    Age 25

    MLB: 7 G (5 GS) 0-3, 7.66 ERA, 4.4 BB/9, 4.7 K/9

    AAA: 24 G (24 GS), 8-10, 3.58 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

    Why? The minor league numbers are for real.

    Why not? The major league numbers are for real. Pretty simple. Mills said he will give Weiland a chance to start and hope that the big league time last year was just an adjustment period that goes away. But he is considered a starter, not a reliever, in the Astros organization.

    LHP 
J.A. Happ

    Age 29

    28 G (28 GS) 6-15, 5.35 ERA, 4.8 BB/9, 7.7 K/9

    Why? His return to the rotation after a strong trip to the minor leagues last year again provided some late-season hope. Happ finished the season with a 2.43 ERA in his final six starts. There’s also little chance of just giving up on him after the Astros tendered him a contract for his first arbitration-eligible year.

    Why not? The walk rate is not a fluke; it’s just something he was fortunate to survive early in his career. It finally caught up to him for most of the 2011 season and may just be who he is. Success is difficult to sustain at that level, as is pitching deep into games.

    RHP 
Henry Sosa

    Age 26

    MLB: 10 G (10 GS) 3-5, 5.23 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

    Minors: 29 G (10 GS) 10-3, 4.53 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

    Why? Brad Mills’ theory is that Sosa is betrayed by one bad inning per game, and if that can somehow be controlled either through mental improvements or stretch mechanics, etc., he could build on his time at the end of last year.

    Why not? The big league walk and strikeout rates will rarely produce success, and that makes it really hard to project great things for him going forward.

    RHP 
Brett Myers

    Age 31

    34 G (33 GS) 7-14, 4.46 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 6.7 K/9

    Why? Despite a down year in 2011, he’s still one of the closest things to a sure bet in a rotation that will consist of lots of guessing. If you’re a believer that home-run rate isn’t predictive year to year, you could be expecting better things from Myers in 2012, but his 1.3 per nine innings is exactly his career rate.

    Why not? He has a bulky contract given the production, but the Astros have engaged in trade talks, which never resulted in anything but could always be reignited as spring training nears. They would likely have to eat some of the money.

    RHP 
Jordan Lyles

    Age 21

    20 G (15 GS) 2-8, 5.36 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

    Why? There is little more to prove in the minor leagues.

    Why not? It’s not all about proving; it’s about big league readiness. Lyles is likely to be in the rotation, but he has options if he falters during spring training and makes the staff nervous (actually, he was good to great in 2011 spring training).

    RHP 
Aneury Rodriguez

    Age 24

    43 G (8 GS) 1-6, 5.27 ERA, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9

    Why? His only hope is a carryover from what has been a great winter. He has a 2.48 ERA in seven starts and one relief outing for Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League with five walks and 32 strikeouts in 322⁄3 innings.

    Why not? Frankly, because he doesn’t have to stay this year. Rodriguez was able to work through his struggles last year because the Astros had no choice as a condition of his Rule 5 draft status. He could not be sent to the minors. It would not be a surprise to see him get some Class AAA time this year.

    RHP 
Lucas Harrell

    Age 26

    MLB: 9 G (2 GS) 0-2, 4.50 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

    AAA: 22 G (21 GS) 12-5, 2.63 ERA, 3.6 BB/9, 6.7 K/9

    Why? The Astros loved the arm when they claimed him off waivers from the White Sox. He could get enough ground balls to be a successful major league starter.

    Why not? Low strikeout rate, low salary and some relief experience are three strikes against him when it comes to the chance to get lost in the starting shuffle.

    RHP 
Paul Clemens

    Age 24

    Minors: 26 G (26 GS), 8-7, 3.81 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

    Why? N/A, probably.

    Why not? It’s not his time yet. Expect Clemens to start the year in Class AAA after a strong five weeks in the Astros’ system following the Michael Bourn trade. He could be a candidate for later in the year if his progression continues.
     
  2. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Based on last year's rotation, these five are the favorites

    LHP Wandy Rodriguez
    RHP 
Bud Norris
    LHP 
J.A. Happ
    RHP 
Brett Myers
    RHP 
Jordan Lyles

    and these five are outside looking in

    RHP 
Kyle Weiland
    RHP 
Henry Sosa
    RHP 
Aneury Rodriguez
    RHP 
Lucas Harrell
    RHP 
Paul Clemens
     
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  3. YaosDirtyStache

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    How bad do you have to be, to be worse than Happ?
     
  4. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Trade Wandy, Myers, and Happ.

    Start the youngsters.
     
  5. bobrek

    bobrek Proud A$$hat Mofo
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    Happ was pretty good after his minor league stint.
     
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  6. moonsh0t

    moonsh0t Member

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    Good problem to have I guess. I'm really hoping Wandy and Myers get traded before the season starts.

    J.A. Happ was terrible last year, hopefully he can turn it around and gain some trade value.

    I would love to see a rotation of:

    Norris
    Sosa
    Lyles
    Weiland
    Clemens

    They would certainly take their share of lumps and some would need an innings cap. We're not expecting to contend though, might as well see what we have. I think Lyles could slot into that 3 spot for the next 15 years. None of the youngsters look to have #1 type upside to this point. One could surprise me though.
     
  7. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    It still pisses me off that J A Happ is basically what we got for Oswalt. F***ING WADE!!!
     
  8. moonsh0t

    moonsh0t Member

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    I think the trade was more about Villar, and swapping Gose for Wallace.

    Wallace's lack of production upsets me much more than Happ's struggles.
     
  9. xAliceInChains

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    I think Bud should get the opening day start. Don't care for and have never cared for Wandy, should have shipped him off ages ago.
     
  10. Scolalist

    Scolalist Member

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    Happ was actually pretty good in September and October it was his June and July that made his overall numbers for the year look bad.

    I think Wandy Rodriguez pitches somewhere else next season and if we can get anything for Brett Myers he will be gone as well.

    I like Happ, Norris and Lyles in the rotation for sure. I'd like too see a couple young guys round it out, at worst they take their lumps and learn from it similar to a few years back with that young Tigers rotation with Verlander, Robertson, etc.
     
  11. OremLK

    OremLK Member

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    I hate this sentiment from casual Astros fans. I don't know what it is--maybe racism?--but what more could Wandy do to prove himself to you? His average ERA since the beginning of 2008 is below 3.50 and he has been the picture of consistency year to year. If he were white, stood 6'3", and threw a couple miles per hour harder, people would call him an ace or a number two starter.

    With all of that said, I see little chance that both Wandy and Myers are still Astros opening day. It's possible they both will be gone via trade, even.
     
  12. bobrek

    bobrek Proud A$$hat Mofo
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    Actually, Wandy's year end splits may be consistent, but he is very inconsistent from month to month within a given season. I think that may be part of the problem. You go see him pitch one game and he goes 7 innings and gives up one run. You go the next game and he struggles through 5 innings and gives up 4 runs.

    I like Wandy and he gives a good effort each and every game but he is a hard guy to 'embrace' and I doubt very much (at least for the vast majority of Astros' fans) that it has anything to do with him being Dominican.
     
  13. PippenAintEZ

    PippenAintEZ Member

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    I agree whole-heartedly here. The dude has been very good for the past 4 seasons, and in my opinion, among the top lefties in the game. Yet for some reason he flies under the radar. I kind of expect him to be under-appreciated by the national media, but it surprises me that so many Astros fans don't care for him. The last few years Oswalt was here, I had more confidence in a Wandy start then an Oswalt start. I thought Wandy would get more national love a few years ago when the study came out that said he had the best curveball in baseball (can't remember the details, but I think his curveball yielded the most swings and misses).

    But nope, and then on top of that, I get to hear the Yankees and other big market teams complain that his salary is too high? That's jus ridiculous, but I guess it sums up the overall sentiment on the guy, so it looks like I am in the minority in this. We should not have to eat any salary in a trade, other teams are not doing us a favor by taking him off our hands. IMHO the dude is a legit #2 or #3, and given the circumstances that Oswalt was traded in, we should get more for Wandy.
     
  14. msn

    msn Member

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    He *has* been prone to bad stretches, and last year he had that horrible start to the season. That said, I've been a big fan of Wandy's, and have compared his early-career development to Hampton's--but the similarities have lessened.
     
  15. Major

    Major Member
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    That's the case with virtually every pitcher. Wandy had an ERA of 3.5 last year. For example, Cliff Lee had an ERA of 2.40 last year, but had two months with an ERA over 4 - same as Wandy did. What pitchers do you imagine as super consistent?

    And realistically, for a crappy team that doesn't score much, you WANT inconsistency. You'll likely win more games if Wandy gives up 0 runs half his games and 6 runs in the other half than you would if he gives up 3 runs every game.
     
  16. bobrek

    bobrek Proud A$$hat Mofo
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    My point is, Wandy doesn't seem 'embraceable' to the fan base because of his inconsistency and lack of pizzazz (for lack of a better word). There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but the casual fan just won't get excited about going to a game because Wandy is pitching.

    I am not knocking Wandy as a pitcher. Over the past 4 years, when looking at him in his entirety, he has been a solid #2-3 starter.
     
  17. Major

    Major Member
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    Sure - but I don't think he's any less consistent than other pitchers. I don't see why that would be a factor.
     
  18. Major Malcontent

    Major Malcontent Contributing Member

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    I saw every home pitch for several years (I was the Ques-Tec guy). Wandy is a really fine pitcher, not an ace but a guy who every rotation needs. I guess it's time to move on since by the time the Astros are good again he will be past his prime and he is no longer dirt cheap, but Wandy's body of work here was solid.

    (And I am not disagreeing with those who say he mixed in some shellings with his good to great outings, but thats true of almost all non aces.)
     
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  19. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    I am slightly concerned if the Astros do dump all of their veterans. Sometimes the really young teams never turn the corner before the team rebuilds again. I kinda think that Mills thinks the same. Mills imo started veteran Jason Michaels to show the youngsters what you need to do to be successful (or at least start) in this league.
     
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  20. bobrek

    bobrek Proud A$$hat Mofo
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    Why do you think the casual Astros' fan doesn't embrace Wandy?
     
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