Dec
20

Looking at some Astros pitchers

By

Late last week we heard that the Yankees had spoken to the Astros about infielder Jeff Keppinger, prompting Joe and I discussed the possibility of expanding a trade to include a starting pitcher in that day’s podcast. It was only natural with the Yankees in perpetual pursuit-of-pitching mode, and I figured it was worth exploring in greater detail.

Before we dive in, we have to eliminate some candidates. The Astros just signed Ryan Rowland-Smith so he’s not an option, not that he should be anyway. Houston also picked up Aneury Rodriguez and former Yankee farmhand Lance Pendleton in the Rule 5 Draft less than two weeks ago, so it’s unlikely either one of those guys will be available. J.A. Happ was one of the centerpieces of this summer’s Roy Oswalt trade, and Bud Norris is their version of Phil Hughes, so for all intents and purposes we can cross those two off the list as well. That leaves a pair of veterans, which is really what the Yankees need. An experienced arm that will give them some predicable innings. Let’s break ‘em down…

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Wandy Rodriguez

After missing close to six weeks with a groin strain early in the 2008 season, Wandy has been one of the games least-heralded great starters. He’s pitched to a 3.55 FIP in 538 innings since then, better than guys like Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Andy Pettitte, and John Danks, just to name a few. In fact, just a dozen pitchers with that many innings since 2008 can top that FIP.

Wandy’s a strikeout artist (8.40 K/9 over those last three years) that doesn’t walk many batters (2.93 BB/9) and gets a good amount of grounders (44.8%), so the basics are there. His big breaking curveball has been the second best yakker in baseball over the last two seasons at 23 runs above average, trailing only Adam Wainwright’s legendary curve (45.7 runs above average, absurd). He does have a platoon split, but it’s not out of control; 4.18 FIP vs. RHB in his career compared to 3.58 vs. LHB. Over the last three seasons, those numbers drop to 3.80 and 2.47, respectively.

The Astros only have Rodriguez under contract for one more season. He’ll earn something like $8M in 2011, his final season of arbitration-eligibility. He should easily top the two-year, $21.5M guarantee Jorge De La Rosa received as a free agent when he hits the market next winter, a price that might not jive with Houston’s budget during their rebuilding effort. Even if GM Ed Wade decides to hold onto Wandy for now, there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll become available at some point during the season.

Brett Myers

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Ever so quietly, Myers was the best free agent signing of the 2009-2010 offseason. After agreeing to a one-year deal that paid him just $3.1M in 2010, Myers pitched to a 3.56 FIP in 223.2 innings for the Astros, racking up 4.0 fWAR. Not only did he make 33 starts, his most since 2005, but Myers also went at least six innings in every single start except his very last one, when he only mustered 5.2 IP. After having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in 2009 and dealing with elbow trouble in 2007, this season was a brilliant rebound for the 30-year-old.

There’s really nothing that stands out about Myers. His fastball averages almost exactly 90 mph (I’m guessing he tired late in the year after being hurt in 2009), and he backs it up with a curveball and slider. He has almost no platoon split (3.54 FIP vs. LHB, 3.57 vs. RHB in 2010, 4.24 vs. 4.50 career), a good but not great strikeout rate (7.24 K/9 in 2010, 7.46 career), a good but not great walk rate (2.66 BB/9 in 2010, 3.04 career), and a very solid groundball rate (48.7% in 2010, 47.5% career). The one thing that stands out from last season is his homer rate, which dropped off quite a bit last season and should creep back up next year. That said, Myers is a rock solid starter, capable of 30 or more starts that should be no worse than league average.

Myers was sure to decline his part of an $8M mutual option for 2011 after the season he had, but Wade (who had Myers in Philadelphia) was proactive. He signed the righty to a two-year contract extension with a third year club option worth no less than $23M. Myers would make a lot of sense for the Yankees, but I just can’t imagine the Astros would be willing to trade him less than five months after giving him the extension.

* * *

I don’t like Myers because he is a wife-beater, so I’m happy that he’s the unlikely trade target. Rodriguez simply makes far more sense for the Yankees and their current needs. He’s left-handed, can strike people out, and is on a short-term commitment. The Javy Vazquez trade could be a good comp in terms of prospect package required since both guys were coming off strong seasons with just one year left on their deals, so that means an average or worse big leaguer, a lower level pitching prospect, and a fungible relief prospect. Feel free to fill in the blanks, but just know that it won’t take Jesus Montero or someone like Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances to land him. Wandy definitely makes some sense for the Yanks, so I hope they’ve at least brought up the idea of acquiring him during the Keppinger talks.

Categories : Hot Stove League

126 Comments»

  1. Jorge says:

    Yes to Wandy. No to Myers, no matter how funny he was in the Kyle Kendrick prank video a few years back.

  2. I brought Wandy Rodriguez up in a thread a few days ago after seeing it on MLBTR. I’m glad there is an article about him now. He seems like the perfect guy to trade for.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Yeah if the Yankees can get Wandy and Keppinger in a trade together of some mid level guys then that will solidify the Yanks rotation especially if Pettitte comes back. Also in all likelihood the Yankees would receive compensation whether it by Type A or B.

  3. A.D. says:

    Given that the Astros never seem to want to take a year or two to rebuild, is there reason to believe they’ll want to do that this year before their usual bad first half even starts?

  4. Agree. Rodriguez is exactly the kind of guy the Yankees should target. Good, not great and short term as to not block any prospects.

  5. Mattchu12 says:

    “I don’t like Myers because he is a wife-beater,”

    I love how blunt that was, haha. And I agree. I know it’s bad baseball sense to not want someone over a personal issue like that, but I don’t care. He’s an uber-douche and a jackass.

  6. Guest says:

    Totally agree on the not-liking Myers thing. I know none of us are perfect and I have made a lot of mistakes in my own life as well, but wife-beating is a real problem for me. Its despicable in all its incarnations, but how he did it was especially egregious (in public and dragging her through the street).

    I’m not saying that he shouldn’t have a right to earn a living and I’m not going to boycott the Yankees if they do trade for him, but I certainly hope they don’t because I do not want anyone like that on my team.

    Relatedly, why is it so hard for people to forgive Mike Vick yet it so much easier for fans to “let the past stay in the past” when it comes to athletes who abuse women?

    Just say no to Brett Myers.

    • nathan says:

      I think its a football vs baseball thing.

      Most baseball players dont get the pass that football players do (ofcourse both sets of players get the pass compared to average Joe).

      I was thinking the same fans who support Big Ben, Donte Stallwaorth, Mike Vick, Shaun Merriman, Ray lewis, Leonard for various personal issues and folks like Merriman, Rodney Harrison for PED have a problem with baseball players.

      I wonder is it because there are 162 games and we see them more often than we see football players or is baseball just pristine for us. Not sure.

      I still feel disgust when someone on TV goes gaga over Vick or Stallaworth or Ray Lewis.

      • Danimal says:

        I feel like the reason this happens is because we actually see the baseball players faces more often. Really a lot easier to relate to them, see them in action… etc.

        All athletes get some, but you are right, NFL players don’t catch as much flak.

        With that being said, your argument is reversed from what Guest was talking about.

        I think he’s trying to ask why people don’t treat crimes of similar natures with similar reactions. Why are certain things ok (wife beating (i.e. Jason Kidd, O.J. Simpson) while other things are just terrible (dog fighting, PED use). Did PED’s ever throw a woman down a stairwell or punch her in the face?

        I agree that there is a disconnect between what the real problems are for athletes (having to bring bodyguards to clubs and carrying guns everywhere, beating wives, getting milked by their agents with no pensions), and the garbage the media and fans seem to care about.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      I can’t cheer for either Vick or Myers. They’re both garbage.

    • Jerome S. says:

      I think it’s a skill level thing. Vick has been wowing people this year, where as Myers has been “meh” his whole career. Not that that’s actual redemption.

  7. pat says:

    Jose Ramirez, Ryan Pope and like Kevin Russo/Colin Curtis maybe?

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      I could definitely see the Astros wanting Nunez which would fine by me as well for a pitcher Wandy’s caliber.

      • Cashman has been reluctant to deal Nunez for some strange reason.

        • Chris says:

          I don’t know if that is completely accurate. He was reluctant to swap him out for Adams after a deal had been agreed to in principle, and then he was reluctant to deal Montero+Nunez for Greinke which could be because of any of the three players.

          • A.D. says:

            Agreed there doesn’t seem to be a ton of proof on not wanting to deal Nunez, the one example is the Mariners wanting Nunez added to a deal already agreed upon in principal (I thought it was a straight add and not a sub), and otherwise a rumored Grienke ask which almost certainly would have also included pitching.

        • nathan says:

          Says Sherman. Many times.

          I think by the time Jack Z was requesting a swap Cash$$ wised up to what was really going on: Stall tactic. It was just a way to give extra time for Daniels to react.

          But, if Lee had left in the offseason after we gave away Montero and change, would the media still not pound Cash$$?

          We got lucky, sometimes with the Yanks this is how players stick. Mo, Posada, Cano were all thrown in deals at some point. Montero wont be dangled again.

      • pat says:

        Same here, but I think Cash has mucho man love for him and wouldn’t put him in the deal. I’d do it though.

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          Yeah I don’t get the where the stock for a hitter with no patience or power or defense it is just sad. However, Nunez would have been pretty valuable in the 60s.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

      Take out Jose Ramirez and add JR Murphy. Murphy is starting to be redundent AND he’s good friends with Casey Kelly.

      • Thomas says:

        he’s good friends with Casey Kelly.

        This immediately makes him the Yankees best prospect.

        And by prospect I mean person in the Yankees organization history.

      • pat says:

        If they wanted Murphy I’d switch him with Ramirez no problemo. Maybe Kelly’s HOF-ness has rubbed off on him?

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

      I think it’ll be more. Maybe Jose, Nunez and Romine? I’d be down.

  8. Thomas says:

    Would people be willing to give up any of Betances, Brackman, or Banuelos for Rodriguez?

    I think I’d be willing to give up Betances or maybe Brackman for him.

  9. AJ says:

    Thank you for mentioning the Brett Myers domestic violence incident. I still feel that despite GMS’s death, the Yankees still represent class and are more than just baseball. I’m glad to see the team’s fans standing up against this kind of behavior and I’d be very disappointed if they traded for Myers.

  10. Chris says:

    that means an average or worse big leaguer, a lower level pitching prospect, and a fungible relief prospect.

    The fungible relief prospect was included for Javy, but the Yankees also got back a fungible relief prospect, so that’s basically a wash.

    As for an below average major leaguer, the best on I can think of is Cervelli, although I don’t think he fits a need for the Astros.

  11. Mark L says:

    Wandy would be a great addition. I know I’m probably alone on this but if acquiring him means taking back Carlos Lee and/or Matt Lindstrom, I still do it. Ideally the Astros would eat some of the remaining contract but they may be desperate enough to give us Wandy for a nominal prospect if we agree to take most of the Lee albatross.

    Lee is owed $38 million through the end of 2012 and he is a very poor defensive outfielder. While he was a disaster with the bat in 2010, there is reason to believe that he can still be productive in a limited role. He’s only 34 and as recently as 2008 but up an OPS+ of 144. DH him against LHSP and see what happens. If it blows up and we need to swallow $20 million — it would surely be embarrassing but not without precedent (see Igawa, Kei).

    Lindstrom is probably going to receive $3 million in arbitration next season. He is a very mediocre RHRP but his 100 mph fastball makes him a worthwhile enough reclamation project.

    Looking at Houston’s holes, doing talent for talent could end up looking like Wandy, Keppinger and possibly Lindstrom for Betances/Brackman, Cervelli/Romine and Nova/Nunez.

    In any case, Cashman needs to be working the phones on this one. Perhaps getting Melancon for 120 Berkman ABs will have created some goodwill.

    • Christian says:

      As an Astros fan: If you take Lee off our hands, you can have Wandy as a free bonus.

      More seriously, since I doubt Lee gets traded to anyone, how untouchable is Hector Noesi?

  12. NextYankeeDynasty says:

    I say go for both Wandy and Keppinger…..Maybe offer Brackman or Betances, DJ Mitchell, Gerald Laird and Melky Mesa.

    • Hughesus Christo says:

      That is way too much for these scrubs.

      • NextYankeeDynasty says:

        Wandy a scrub?…I suggest you look up his numbers….

        • Hughesus Christo says:

          I’m not trading B+ prospects for a 4th starter.

          • FIPster Doofus says:

            Except Wandy isn’t a fourth starter.

            • Hughesus Christo says:

              In NY he is.

              • FIPster Doofus says:

                How so?

                • Hughesus Christo says:

                  He’s throwing to a 3.40-3.60 in the NL Central. That’s not anything more than a 4th starter in the AL East.

                  • FIPster Doofus says:

                    To be fair, the Central had the first-, fourth- and sixth-ranked offenses in the NL last season based on runs scored. Granted, it also had the Pirates – who were dead last.

                    Anyway, I agree Rodriguez’s numbers would likely worsen somewhat transferring to the AL East, but we don’t know how much. If he came to the Yankees and threw 190 innings of 4-ERA ball with, say, a 3 WAR, he’d be a really good acquisition. I know quality starts aren’t a great way to measure performance, but he ended last season with 13 in a row. And only two were bare-minimum quality starts (meaning 6 IP, 3 ER). Anyone who can strike out around eight per nine while walking three or fewer has value.

                    • Hughesus Christo says:

                      But he’s not going to K 8 per 9 in the AL. I keep saying this. We need some kind of K/9-P and shitty PHs stat.

                    • FIPster Doofus says:

                      Well, HC, Rodriguez has K’d at least 8.22/9 in each of the last three seasons. Hence, he’s clearly a pretty gifted strikeout pitcher. I doubt his K/9 would plummet if he switched leagues. Just off the top of my head, the younger, pre-dead arm Javy Vazquez was consistently around eight K’s per nine in both the AL and NL.

                    • Thomas says:

                      Rodriguez had 178 Ks in 195 IP last year. He faced the #9 spot (likely the pitcher) in 79 PA allowing a .135 OBP and getting 30 Ks. Without this spot he only has 148 Ks. Removing the 9 spot we also must remove the roughly 68 out he obtained by facing this spot (22 2/3 IP). Thus he had 148 K in 172 1/3 IP without the 9th batter, giving Rodriguez a 7.73 K/9 for the non-9 spot hitters.

                    • FIPster Doofus says:

                      Thanks for the info, Thomas.

                    • Thomas says:

                      Additionally, a 7.79 K/9 would have been 12th in the AL last year and within 0.05 K/9 of Scott Baker and Cliff Lee.

                    • Hughesus Christo says:

                      And then how good is Wandy with an elevated BB rate, a deflated K/9, the additional pitches, etc. I don’t think there’s a good way our there to equate the leagues, but I know a mid range guy isn’t going to waltz over and match what he used to do.

                    • Mike Axisa says:

                      Except he’s clearly more than a mid-range guy. No one’s saying he’ll come over here and be an ace, but he’s better than what they have now.

              • CC, Phil, Wandy. AJ is #4. Pettite would only be #5 because of age/innings.

    • Mark L says:

      Gerald, eh? Trying to get the Cards involved? ;-)

    • Slugger27 says:

      i assume u meant brandon

  13. Nova, Betances, & Nunez for Wandy and Keppinger seems fair to me. Then if Andy retires (please NO) sign Jeff Francis. CC, Phil, AJ, Wandy, Andy/Francis with Mitre, Noesi, etc would be a fine rotation IMO.

  14. Rey22 says:

    Well, I’m sold on Wandy. Go Cashman.

  15. Poopy Pants says:

    OK. I’m trying to get these RAB rules straight…

    Gay jokes = bad
    Sexual assault jokes = bad
    Non-Yankee beats wife = bad
    Yankee beats wife and is celebrated as a hero and legend = ok
    Comments that are politically left leaning = ok
    Comments that are even somewhat politically right leaning = bad

  16. AJ says:

    Maybe we can pull Hunter Pence away while we’re at it.

  17. Cervelli, Adams, Nova, minor league pitcher?

    That seems fair to me…

  18. nycsportzfan says:

    i have been saying this for about 3wk’s now… Wandy is the perfect mid rotation guy, and maybe even a better additon then Andy would be at this point.. I liked him so much because i realize it won’t take so much to get em, and it would be a guy whos ERA has been extremely good for yrs now.. Hes a Quiet person, as far as media goes, which is always good, and he produces… People say he pitches in the Weak Divison, but come on, in todays MLB, u play just about everyone, including AL teams… Hes played enough teams outside of his divison to see he can pitch anywhere… I’d be on this in a blink if i were cashman.. I’d go and make a deal that would secure KEPPINGER and RODRIGUEZ.. I’d offer them Adam Warren, Austin Romine and Hector Noesi… Thats a deal that would be very hard for Houston to turn down..

  19. cano is the bro says:

    what are the chances that Wandy is a type A after next season if we trade for him?

    • Thomas says:

      Presently he is a type A based on Bajek’s formulation. His score is 77.558 and the cutoff for Type A status was about 74.

    • vin says:

      Since the FA type ranking is based on the player’s last 2 seasons, I would say the odds of him being a type A are about as good as Javy’s was.

    • Sam says:

      Pretty good but not great. These are the bottom 5 Type-A’s in the NL according to MLBTR.

      Chad Billingsley Los Angeles N A 77.888
      Wandy Rodriguez Houston A 77.558
      Derek Lowe Atlanta A 74.835
      Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles N A 74.340
      Jorge De La Rosa Colorado A 74.092

  20. J. Scott says:

    Since Myers’ domestic violence issue appears to have been a one-off going back to 2006, it wouldn’t take him off the board for me.

  21. OXXBOW says:

    Wandy Rodriguez would be a good addition, clearly. If Pettitte returns, he would fit comfortably into the 5 slot.

  22. Mike HC says:

    I like both Myers and Wandy for the Yanks at this point, if the price is right. Both are pretty clearly better than average pitchers at this point and neither should take a ton to get. Although I expect one of the Killer B’s would have to be added and I’m not sure if the Yanks are willing to do that depending on how the beginning of the season goes.

  23. Amol says:

    I’m not completely sold on Wandy being able to succeed outside of Houston. His home/road splits have been pretty extreme over the course of his career, well beyond Minute Maid Park’s normal effect. If I were the Yankees, I’d want some kind of explanation for this before trading prospects for a guy who, for all we know, needs air conditioning to thrive.

  24. Smallz_LOS says:

    I’d give up Nova, Adams, Nunez, another low level guy for Wandy and Keppinger.

  25. Danimal says:

    I am still on board for Cash money to trade for King Felix in favor of either of these moves.

    Just read Sherman’s NY Post article

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports.....3rR2NSliRO

    I agree. I think he’s worth Montero. We’re talking about one of the best young power pitchers in the game now… why not?

    • Amol says:

      Because there’s no way that the Mariners would trade him for Montero. As Sherman points out, even a package of Montero, Ivan Nova, David Adams, Eduardo Nunez and Dellin Betances wouldn’t be enough. There just isn’t a deal to be made.

  26. max says:

    Ultimately, I am all for Wandy.

    HOWEVER, no one seems to have considered his home/road splits.

    He is ridiculously better at home than he is on the road, which is pretty surprising considering the short porch in left over at Minute Maid (that’s where the Astros play, right?). It is perplexing, to say the least.

    Having said that, I’d prob give up a package that included Nova, Nunez, and a high-ceiling low level pitching prospect– or a package roughly equivalent to it.

    • Amol says:

      I made the same point up above. I mean it’s certainly possible that he’d do as well in New York as in Houston (maybe he just pitches better when he’s slept in his own bed), but it’s just as possible that he won’t.

  27. cheddar says:

    Nice read. I think Wandy is exactly the type of guy we should get, assuming the price is right. If we add him and the Hairstons, I’d say we are a better team than we were last opening day.

  28. Smallz_LOS says:

    I am totally sold on Wandy. King Felix? You better get ready to cough up Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes and Jesus Montero. I wouldnt give up Felix for anything less.

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