Well you can go ahead and completely ignore the portion of my article Tuesday in which I declared Felipe Paulino the front runner for Houston’s 5th rotation spot. Paulino has been traded to the Colorado Rockies for 2B/SS Clint Barmes.
With the move, Houston’s offense gets MUCH better. I’ve already mentioned multiple times how futile the SS position was for the Astros in 2010. It’s still unclear if Barmes will play short and Keppinger will stick at 2B, vice versa, or someone else will be brought in but in any case, it’s a big improvement while the pitching will basically go unchanged. Paulino had a little more upside and strikeout potential than most 5th starters in the NL but his career 5.83 ERA is not irreplaceable, to put it softly.
Barmes had a career year in 2009 hitting .245 with 23 homeruns and 78 RBI. Those numbers would have ranked 3rd in homeruns and RBI on the 2010 Astros squad. He entered 2010 without an everyday role resulting in fewer plate appearances and suppressed numbers. However, in 387 at-bats he still managed 8 homeruns and 50 RBI. Over the last three seasons, Barmes has averaged 131 games played with 14 homeruns and 9 stolen bases while hitting .256/.305/.423. This pop will be a huge asset for Houston. Ed Wade certainly took a huge step towards producing a competent and competitive everyday lineup for 2011.
Barmes will make $3.3 million in 2011 with arbitration after the offseason. Paulino will make $415,000. The increased payroll only makes it more imperative Wade signs a cost-effective consistent performer for the final rotation spot.