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.
First round draft pick and Astros number one overall prospect Carlos Correa in an intersquad match up rips a triple off of Jordan Lyles. Watch as he shows off his wheels and legs out a stand up triple.
Hat tip to Tri-City Valley Cats YouTube channel for the video.
To say Jordan Lyles can’t pitch would be flat dumb and ignorant. Let’s be honest. The guy has been pretty bad this year. He’s had flashes of brilliance but is still without a road win in his career. He’s been much better at home than on the road (like most of the team). Lets not forget most of his games have horrible defense. Like today, the defense committed 4 errors in his start today. Awful! Something like that can be diminishing to a pitchers confidence, especially one who’s the youngest pitcher in the NL. And that’s just what we have in this case. People tend to forget that he’s the youngest pitcher in the National League. Let me say that again. THE YOUNGEST PITCHER IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE! Do you comprehend? Good. The Astros are rebuilding. Besides that, they’re just not that good. When an organization is having to build the farm system and the Major League teams from the ground up you’re going to have some bad ML teams. Players will be called up early and you’ll have some that just can’t play. In the situation of Jordan Lyles, he was just called up too soon.
After the horrid series that was the Lone Star Series, the Astros go back home and face the Royals. The Only good thing that came from the Astros roadtrip was the series win against the White Sox. Considering the competition, a 4-5 roadtrip wouldn’t have been bad, but 3-6, that’s a different story. The Astros are in a bad way right now, and are in desperate need of some home cooking. The Royals are coming to town and are starting what could be a huge ten game home stand.
When previewing a series, you can never actually be 100% sure how the games will turn out. But one thing will always be sure, the Astros need help in just about every series this year. They aren’t good, but what are some other points that will help the Astros this series? So obviously the old cliche ‘good pitching and good defense wins you ball games’ applies in this case.
After the whole perfect game incident, the Astros came back strong with a 6-3 victory. However, they obviously didn’t win the series. But after Thursday’s victory, this road trip is up to a .500 record at 3-3. Before this road trip, the Astros had 6 wins on the road the whole season! They have half of that number on this road trip alone. So as I said in an earlier blog, the Astros have had their fare share of road woes this year. Though it’s just a small sample, maybe, just maybe, the Astros are improving on the road.
The Astros made another mistake today. It won’t take me to long to get into with this blog post. If you followed my blog post last year, You would know how big of a Jordan Lyles fan boy I am. I love the guy. He’s really talented and an overall good guy. I finally got my wish. He was called up to make his 2012 Astros debut.
Everything was going well. We were into the fourth inning before he hung a breaking ball to Cozart who got a hard hit single. In the next pitch he gave up a two run bomb to Joey Votto. The Astros and Reds were now tied 2-2. He was looking great. He even had his velocity up by about 3 MPH from last year. That was something he was set to work on. When he left the game after serving up a quality start and having the Astros in prime position to take a series from the Reds in Cincy for the first time since 2009, the bullpen blows. I was not a very happy man while this was going down. It seemed like 2011 all over again, just with a better offense. I know, 2011 was a horrid year and we wish it could be erased from our history. But it can’t. Neither can today. Today was the toughest loss of our young season so far. We’re now 8-14, but we had a chance to come back to Houston after going .500 on a road trip for the first time in a while. It didn’t happen. The good thing about baseball? There’s always tomorrow. But for Lyles, after such a good start for him, he’s right back into Triple A. It must be frustrating for a player like Lyles. Unless he was told he would be back in AAA after today, I would imagine him to be pretty pissed. I know I am. Jordan, if you’re reading, I feel for you son.