When winter comes to an end and players begin their spring regimens, Tim Byrdak will be flying north to his new home in New York. Fortunately that concludes how far I’ll stretch that terrible play on words. The Mets have signed the Astros best lefty of 2010 to a one year deal. This certainly raises the question why Byrdak was outrighted while Gustavo Chacin and Fernando Abad were brought back to Houston.
Chacin: Simply put, he’s just not that good. 2010 was the former starter’s first year in Houston and first as a reliever. In fact, he hadn’t pitched in the majors at all since 2007, so his 4.70 ERA over 38.1 innings wasn’t terrible. But it certainly shows the state of the 2010 Astros bullpen. Chacin allowed left handed hitters to put up a .323/.403/.387 line against him. He’s entering his age 30 season so the chances of him improving much are slim. Why Houston avoided arbitration with him and didn’t resign Byrdak is a mystery.
Abad: Extremely talented but coming off a shoulder surgery and only pitched 46 innings in 2010. Although, they were very good innings with 42 K’s and just 8 BB’s. If he’s healthy and ready for a full load in 2011, he could be the best lefty in their bullpen.
Wright: The scariest thing about Byrdak not an Astro is the destinct possibility Wesley Wright will be counted on to get tough outs. This is the same guy with a career ERA of 5.33, ERA+ of 77, and has yet to finish a big league season with an ERA on the right side of 5. On the bright side, he did hold leftys to a .206 average over a measly 34 at-bats, but he’s also too erratic to pitch consistently. His raw stuff and his feeble contract make him worth keeping around for 2011 but he doesn’t belong on a major league pitching staff.
Byrdak: Was by far the best lefty in the Astros’ bullpen last season. Byrdak held left-handed hitters to a .213/.271/.373 line in 2010. He also has a 3.46 ERA over the past four seasons while averaging 60 appearances per year. The 36 year old is easily the most expensive of all the other options as he made $1.6 million in 2010 but if you can’t spend that on a consistent player who fills a need perfectly, why pay anyone?
So hold on, because the 2011 Houston bullpen could be a wild ride. (I defeated temptation to use the word ‘flight’ there)