Going into the 2013 season, the Astros had six veterans they decided to take chances on. Rick Ankiel, Erik Bedard, Carlos Pena, Philip Humber, Jose Veras, and Ronny Cedeno were the six Astros veterans that made the squad out of spring training. Out of the six, the Astros waived three of them, traded one of them, and kept the other two. Is that the result the Astros wanted? Let’s take a look at each player’s season.
Rick Ankiel – Ankiel wasn’t a favorite to make the opening day roster but he did enough to earn his spot. Ankiel was batting .415 with 3 HR, 1 3B, and 4 2B in the 19 spring training games before he earned his spot. Those numbers were enough for Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter to justify his spot on the opening day roster but it wasn’t long before they realized it was a mistake. Ankiel’s stint with the Astros lasted just 25 games as he batted .194 with 5 HR, 11 RBI, and 35 K in 62 at-bats. Ankiel would later go on to play 20 games for the Mets and remarkably did even worse in New York.
Erik Bedard - Bedard lasted the whole season, throwing for over 150 innings for the first time since 2007. Bedard started 26 of the 32 games he appeared in and had a 4.59 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a .260 BAA. Bedard had a 4-12 record and recorded one save. The Astros likely hoped Bedard would pitch well enough to be dealt at the trade deadline. However, the Astros never found an offer (or got an offer) they liked. The Astros would have been better off letting go of Bedard and allowing one of their other young pitchers to take his spot in the rotation. Bedard is not expected back in 2014.
Carlos Pena – The Astros decided that Pena’s leadership and experience was valuable enough to keep him on the roster. The Astros chose Pena over Nate Freiman and that now seems like a mistake. Pena batted .209 (.324 OBP) with 8 HR and 25 RBI in his 277 at-bats with the Astros. Pena played a good first base but his bat did not justify his spot on the team. The Astros couldn’t find any trade partner for Pena and DFA’d him in mid-July. Pena later resurfaced with the Kansas City Royals playing in just four games for them in 2013.
Philip Humber – Likely the biggest failure from this past offseason, Humber pitched terribly for the Astros. In 7 starts and 10 relief appearances, Humber recorded a 7.90 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, and a .322 BAA in 54.2 innings pitched. Humber was sent down to the minors for three months before finishing the season with the Astros major league club. The Astros declined his $3 million option for 2014 and Humber will look have to look elsewhere for a new gig.
Jose Veras – Veras pitched very well when given the chances in Houston. Veras had a 2.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a .192 BAA in 43 inning pitched in Houston. Veras was 19/22 in save chances and did well enough to “earn” a trade to another team. The Astros traded Veras to the Detroit Tigers just before the deadline and acquired Detroit’s #4 prospect Danry Vasquez in the deal. The Astros also acquired Danny Paulino as the PTBNL in the deal. Vasquez is a young OF prospect and Paulino is considered a lottery ticket. Veras is still pitching with the Tigers in the ALCS and the trade is considered a win-win trade for both squads.
Ronny Cedeno – I never liked Ronny Cedeno and I let all my twitter followers know that as the season went on (@YoniPollak). Even when Cedeno was playing decently well I still put out a post stating he was “Not Wanted.” In mid-July I finally got my wish when the Astros sent Cedeno packing. In his 141 at-bats (51 games) with the Astros, Cedeno hit .220 with 1 HR, 6 2B, and 12 RBI. Cedeno didn’t provide much help defensively either racking up 11 errors in his short time here. I don’t think I ever publicly displayed my displeasure with an Astros player more than I did with Cedeno.
Overall the Astros did okay with their veterans. I’m sure Luhnow preferred to trade them all for prospects by the deadline but there was a reason all these guys were available. Only being able to trade one out of six isn’t so terrible considering they could have been stuck with all six. My only question was why the Astros didn’t cut their losses with either Bedard or Humber? The Astros weren’t able to deal Bedard at the July deadline but probably felt a team may be willing to claim the veteran lefty. When no one claimed him entering September the Astros likely decided to just keep him as an extra pitcher since the rosters expand anyway. Humber was an extra pitcher in the minors and also should have been let go but they decided to keep him in the minors until late in the season. Both Bedard and Humber would have likely been gone by mid-season had pitchers such as Alex White and John Ely been healthy. Instead the Astros decided to keep the two veterans and were not able to flip them for future pieces.
How do you feel Jeff Luhnow did with his veteran selections? Should he have cut his losses earlier or not have brought them on at all? Sound off in the comments below.