For as good as the stable of starting pitchers the Houston Astros have is, they are still missing one thing; experience. The Astros do have the one thing that is highly coveted across baseball, lots of young talented arms with upside. But they are not all ready yet.
One of the things Luhnow must be careful of is not overpaying in such a manner that it will hamper the Astros in the future. In my opinion, the issue is more in years and not dollars.
I had mixed emotions with regards to the two most recent free agent signings; Dan Haren to the Dodgers for one year and $10 million and Ricky Nolasco to the Twins for four years and $49 million. Both are credible veterans with a track record, but their contracts are very different.
Haren is a proven pitcher with a track record of success. However the last few years have not been as kind to the starter. The 33-year old was 10-14 for the Nationals last season with a 4.67 ERA. For his career, Haren is 129-111 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Yes he has battled injury and ineffectiveness in the recent past, but he is still a very solid hurler with something to prove. The contract the Dodgers signed him to, was in my opinion perfect, and a move the Astros should have seriously considered. However, the one problem though, is that the Astros are not ready for playoff contention while the Dodgers were in the NLCS last season.
Nolasco on the other hand, even though he got compensated at the market rate, I think was was overpaid. While he is certainly talented, he is also inconsistent and frustrating at times. The 30-year old sports a 4.37 career ERA to go along with a 89-75 record. At this time, I’m not sure this would have been a prudent investment for the Astros, but it is a good indication of where the market is.