Now that I’ve had 24 hours to let it sink in, I think it’s time to discuss the ramifications of Brett Myers’ new role with the team. My first thought was, why? Why would you make such a move with a guy who will almost certainly provide over 200 innings pitched on a young, inexperienced staff? Only four N.L. pitchers have accumulated more innings than Myers over the last two seasons. A move of this type would surely have a negative effect on the starting rotation. But the Astros bullpen could in fact be in worse shape than the rotation. Adding Myers to the ‘pen makes sense in that respect.
Jeff Luhnow obviously thinks the bullpen needs more help than the rotation. Luhnow came up with this seemingly crazy idea and ran it by Brad Mills. The skipper passed the idea along to Myers, who said he needed some time to think about it. After letting the idea bounce around the vast wilderness of his mind for a little while, Myers agreed to play along. I’m sure our Decision Scientist had some input along the way as well.
I will say the timing of the move is right. As Myers explained, he now has the entire spring to get accustomed to the role. It is definitely a risky move but the Astros have very little to lose. But if Myers fails it will take some time for him to get back into starting shape. This had better work! Myers is a fierce competitor and has been quoted as saying he prefers the role of closer. The only thing that worries me is his susceptibility to the homerun ball. Myers has a lifetime homerun/flyball percentage of 14.2%. As a closer he will need to pare that number down to something approaching his career best 8.5% figure established in 2010.
Another interesting aspect of the move is the possibility that Myers’ trade value could increase. The market for starters has been nearly non-existent but a successful closer could be a hot commodity when the trade deadline rolls around. This means the long term outlook of the franchise could possibly get a boost should Myers succeed in his new role.
Let’s take a closer look at both the long and short term effects on the bullpen and the rotation. As for the bullpen, I think both will be positive. In the long term guys like David Carpenter and Juan Abreu will be given more time to develop. Both youngsters had been mentioned as possible closer candidates before the job was given to Myers. Now they will get a chance to learn from Myers or acquire more closing experience in the minors since one less reliever will break camp with the big club. In the short term Myers adds depth to a previously questionable bullpen. The added depth could make it easier to keep Rule 5 pick Rhiner Cruz on the roster, which could prove to be a positive in both the short and long term.
Myers will be missed in the rotation and the short term effect will be negative. With Wandy and Bud now at the top of the rotation Livan Hernandez will probably inherit the #3 spot. J.A. Happ should follow Hernandez and the number five spot is now up for grabs. More than likely one of the youngsters will claim that spot and the growing pains that come with it (especially on a losing team.) As for the long term I’m leaning toward positive. The Astros will most likely throw a young starter into the rotation and that can be good or bad. Sometimes I wonder if the pain of losing outweighs the benefits of experience. Jordan Lyles was rushed to the big leagues last year and may ultimately reach Free Agency sooner because of it. Putting another prospect in the rotation would be dumb, for that reason. I like Lucas Harrell and think he would be the logical choice if he has a good spring.
So I guess the good outweighs the bad here in the overall big picture. I’ve already jumped on the Luhnow bandwagon and I have to believe he’s got this all figured out.