The Houston Astros have been saying all off season that they would make changes to the roster. Like most people, I didn’t really expect much. The Astros started off by signing Peter Moylan to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. That was the type of move I was expecting the Astros to make. However, two days ago, the Astros shocked me, as well as many others, when they traded for the Colorado Rockies’ center fielder, Dexter Fowler.
The Astros traded starting pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes for Colorado’s Dexter Fowler and a PTBNL. As far as this trade goes, my initial reaction was excitement. The Astros fleeced the Rockies, at least in my mind. As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Jordan Lyles. I have thought that he could turn it around in Houston. I still feel he can turn it around, but I’m not sure Houston was the place. Not sure how well Colorado will treat him either.
I waited a few days before I wrote this article, mainly because had I wrote it three days ago when this trade went down, there would have been a lot of excitement and loud noises. I’m pumped for this trade. You should be too. Dexter Fowler is a very nice asset for the Astros. Over the course of 162 games, Fowler will give you a slash line of about .270/.365/.423. He’ll average around 15 home runs per year, as well as 20 stolen bases. A lot has been made of Fowler’s defensive “woes.” I’m not exactly sure why. As far as fielding percentage goes, Fowler has a fielding percentage of .986 over his six year career. While we watched Brandon Barnes make spectacular diving catches in center field, for what seemed like all season long, his fielding percentage wasn’t much better than Fowler at .989.
Many people have had their very on reaction to this trade. Since the smoke has cleared, Richard and I have discussed this trade, and will give you our reactions to this trade not that our excitement level has gone down a bit.
First off, what was your initial reaction to the trade?
Richard Perez (RP): As with any trade where one of the most likable players are involved, I was extremely disappointed to know that two of our very likable players were gone. I was more upset that Brandon Barnes was out, but with acquisition of Fowler, it was a little easier to take. As far as receiving Dexter Fowler, I was also surprised that Colorado would be willing to give up somebody like that. In my opinion, Fowler is one of the better lead off hitters in the game, on of my favorites along with Shin-Soo Choo.
Lee White (Me): As mentioned earlier, I’m disappointed in the fact that the Astros no longer have Jordan Lyles. At age 23, he still has a ton of time to grow. He has solid stuff, but couldn’t figure it out. Due to the fact that he was rushed, I think his mindset may have changed. Houston just wasn’t right for him, but I’m not sure Colorado is either. As far as acquiring Fowler, I was pumped. Still am. The Astros traded a fourth outfielder and an under-performing starting pitcher for Fowler and a PTBNL. My favorite part of this trade is the fact that the Astros finally have their true lead off bat.
Realistically, what expectations do you have for the Astros’ new center fielder?
RP: Speed. Lots of it. I know Barnes was very well versed out in center, I just hope Fowler can learn how to play the unusual center field of Minute Maid Park. In my mind, I thought back to when Willy Tavares was Houston’s speedy center fielder. I expect good things to come of Fowler.
Me: Realistically? I expect him to get on base, and once he is on there, the Astros will send him in motion. Fowler is the type of player, in my mind, who will be pretty balanced. He isn’t going to hit for an extremely high average, isn’t going to crush long balls all day everyday, but he will certainly hit for an average around .260-.265, probably 10-15 home runs, and 20 stolen bases. He could possibly rack up more stolen bases, just depends on if the Astros put him in motion as much as I would.
In terms of statistical numbers, do you think his home run numbers were inflated by the high altitude of Coors Field?
RP: Everybody says numbers are inflated in Coors Field, but I tend to not believe that, especially in this case. If you look at his home run numbers of the last three years, he only had 30 total home runs. However, his extra base hits are his best statistic. I’d say his speed is more to thank than the thin air in Denver.
Me: Saying his numbers may have been inflated by high altitude in Colorado bugs me. They weren’t. Not to mention, Minute Maid Park can be a bit of a boom box too. As Richard says, it’s not as if he was hitting 30 home runs a year. If he were, it might be a different story, but I expect Fowler to hit around 15 home runs in the upcoming season.
If you had to guess, what would be the next move that the Astros make, and will it be a free agent signing or another trade?
RP: Given the circumstances, I’d say the Astros trade one of their outfielders, possibly JD Martinez if he doesn’t get taken in the Rule 5 Draft. I’m not sure where he would get shipped, but I’d say that a trade is more likely than a free agent signing, and it could happen before the Winter Meetings on the 12th.
Me: With the signing of Scott Feldman today, and the Dexter Fowler trade three days ago, I think the Astros sign their next player. Preferably a relief pitcher. Maybe a return of The V, Jose Veras, in Houston? There are also a couple players he weren’t tendered contracts that the Astros could make a run, and those include Andrew Bailey and John Axford. Either of those would be nice in Houston.
As for the Scott Feldman signing, we’ll have another post on that up sometime later today. Another special thanks to Ryan Dunsmore of The Crawfish Boxes for his awesome photoshop skills.