On December 14, 2011, in his first trade as General Manger of the Astros, Jeff Luhnow traded 2011 closer, Mark Melancon to the Boston Red Sox for SS Jed Lowrie and SP Kyle Weiland. The move filled two immediate needs as it plugged Lowrie, a once top heralded prospect, in at shortstop and added another young arm in Weiland to the battle for the 4th/5th spots in our rotation. A spot he would eventually win. Let’s take a look at how each player involved in the trade did during the 2012 season after the jump.
After losing closer, Jonathan Papelbon, in free agency to the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston GM Ben Cherrington went out and acquired Mark Melancon from the Astros. Melancon finished the 2011 season with 20 saves in 25 opportunities along with a 2.78 ERA. His 2012 season was a far cry from his 2011 campaign. Melancon got off to a very rocky start as he was inserted as the eighth in setup man and was eventually demoted to AAA Pawtucket. Melancon was eventually brought back up to the big leagues with the Red Sox and finished the season with a 6.44 ERA with one save in two opportunities. He will be hoping to rediscover his 2011 form when he heads to Spring Training in 2013 with the Sox.
As mentioned above, the Astros received Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland in return for Mark Melancon. Lowrie immediately became the starting shortstop, a position left vacated by Clint Barmes when he signed a two year deal with the Pirates earlier in the offseason. Lowrie, a supplemental first round pick of the Red Sox in the 2005 MLB Draft, had been hampered by various illnesses and injuries during his brief career. The injury bug struck again for Lowrie in July when he injured his lower leg and knee in San Francisco in a game against the Giants. He would miss roughly two months due to this injury. However, before and after the injury, Lowrie played very well. He currently sports a .247 BA with 16 HR’s and 42 RBI and has proven to be a power bat the Astros desperately needed this season.
Some think, myself included, that had Lowrie not been injured, he would likely have been included in a trade as he was having a breakout year, hitting for power and drawing walks. That combination is something playoff teams would love to have. He still may very well be traded this offseason as the Astros still have Marwin Gonzalez, Tyler Greene and Matt Downs capable of playing the position until one of our top prospects is ready to take over. For now, he will enter the 2013 season as the starting shortstop for the Houston Astros.
Finally, there’s Kyle Weiland. Weiland was a relative unknown as he was not a top prospect of the Red Sox and in the limited time he was up at the big league level in Boston, he was hit hard by the opposition. He pitched well in Spring Training and was penciled in as the fourth starter for the Astros going into the season. His season would be cut very short as he was diagnosed with a right shoulder infection that ended up requiring surgery, effectively ending his season. He made only three starts, losing each of them and finished his brief first season with the Astros with a 6.62 ERA. He will enter Spring Training with a chance to make the 2013 club as either a starter or a bullpen arm.
This trade was a slam dunk win for the Astros. The only player Boston received was shuffled up and down between AAA and the big leagues and pitched terribly for the most part. Yes, Weiland was gone for the season after only a handful of starts and Lowrie’s injury history crept back up, but when healthy, Lowrie is a middle of the order bat that can hit twenty plus home runs and play a premier position with above average defense at shortstop.