When Jeff Luhnow was hired as GM of the Astros, it was clear a new approach to baseball would be implemented. Today it was reaffirmed as the Astros acquired SS Jed Lowrie and SP prospect Kyle Weiland from Boston. They give up Mark Melancon who served as the Astros closer last season. Melancon will be the Red Sox’ 8th inning setup man. This is a classic sell high/buy low move by Jeff Luhnow, the closer’s market has exploded over the winter and he capitalized. The Astros are banking on Lowrie filling their SS gap and possibly tapping a potential that due to injuries has not been seen. Also acquiring a possible back of the rotation starter to compete for a spot this spring training adding quality depth.
Lowrie’s main issue is health, if he can stay healthy he should provide the lineup with pop. Losing Clint Barmes would have been a blow as that would mean using Angel Sanchez, Brian Bixler or Marwin Gonzalez in that spot. Now the Astros can pencil the 27 year old SS into his spot and with a healthy campaign could match Barmes numbers offensively. Defensively, he is still a work in progress but could improve with more playing time at a steady position.
Weiland has interesting stuff that tops out at mid 90s velocity. He projects as possibly a bullpen arm but the Astros see him as a back of the rotation starter with his variety of pitches. He will surely get a chance to win a spot in spring training and could be a favorite for the 4 or 5 spots. He saw action with the Red Sox late last season and got hit around a bit but admittedly got put into a tough spot and probably was not yet ready for that type of environment.
This was the first of a few deals by Jeff Luhnow but you can already see his fingerprints all over the new philosophy the Astros have taken. This is a very proactive move unlike the reactive ones we’ve become accustomed to seeing during Ed Wade’s time in Houston.