Breaking down the Myers deal: Its impact on the Astros rotation

I'll be honest, I'm an unabashed fan of this deal.  I was from the moment it started being rumored on Twitter, and I still am even after seeing the proposed contract of one year, $5 million with an option for 2011 (I assume club, or at least if it's a player option it's dependent on a performance goal).  For a signing that took place on January 8th that adds depth to one of resource the Astros were sorely in need of—pitching—I don't know if we can ask for more; aside from shaving a million or so off the contract.

From the media reports, it's clear that Myers is going to be a starter.  What remains to be seen is who that bumps from the rotation.  Brian McTaggart phrased it as such:

Myers likely leaves Norris, Paulino and Moehler competing for two spots heading into Spring Training.

Granted, this could leave one of our two young guns without a rotation spot, but I'm not so sure that's the conclusion to be reached.  Just going off my memory of all the quotes that have come from Brad Mills and Ed Wade, Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino have both been mentioned numerous times as players with a lot of promise, players to get excited about for the immediate future.  Paulino has been highlighted for all the extra work that he's been putting in this offseason, too. I don't think both of them would get all of that praise only to be marginalized to the bullpen for Myers.

I think this is especially true when you consider that all of Ed Wades moves seem to be building to a breakout campaign for the Astros in 2012.  Why would he want to stunt the development of two pitchers who can be rotation stalwarts in 2012 by limiting their experience and robbing them of a year of development?

That's just my gut feeling on it, though.

Suspending the debate around who gets bumped from the rotation, the deal is a solid one.  It's not something that will have the blogosphere bubbling with praise for Ed Wade, but it's not one that will draw the ire that the Brandon Lyon deal did, either.

Myers, due to be 30, is predicted to toss 171 IP by Bill James and 126 IP by CHONE.  The systems see respective ERA's of 4.37 and 4.79, with James' projection being buoyed by a 4.59 FIP and CHONE's FIP still needing to be amended for the trade.  Both systems see above 3 K:BB's and above 7 K/9's.  For someone that is likely to end up being a number four or five starter, that's not bad if you just take the average.

The real story for Myers will be what MMP does for his HR/FB.  Last year, Myers posted an appalling 23.4%, but has a career average of just above 15%.  Taking a look at his 2009 and 2008 seasons via hitracker, I think Myer's is definitely going to see a few more HR balls stay in the park. Not the ones that were pulled to right, but certainly some of the fly balls to CF and RF.  Myer's xFIP, which is regressed to league average HR rates, in 2008 was 3.87 and in 2009 was 4.32.  Assuming just somewhere in the middle—or even the 4.32 mark from 2009—over 140-150 IP and Myers is quite the pitcher.  Using the WAR projection tool we played with last season, that would make him a 1.8 WAR pitcher.

Assuming (or I guess in reality, hoping) that Brian Moehler is the odd man out of the rotation, then that's an upgrade in our starting rotation of about 1.1 WAR.  Moehler's projection there is based on a 160 IP and 5.00 ERA—generous. With that, Myer's contract essentially pays for itself in performance.  Ed Wade wins; we win, too.

I think that's how it goes.  Like I said, I have a feeling that Ed Wade, Brad Mills, and Brad Arnsberg are dedicated to developing a rotation that has a future, not catering to Brian Moehler's veteraniess.  With this move, I think it gives the Astros the strongest starting rotation they've had since 2006.  Not only that, but Moehler gets to move back into the role that he's made for, long-reilef/mop-up/spot starter.  It's a win-win-win.

**Caveat that I don't feel like working in** I just asked Will Carroll for his gut feeling on Myers' health in 2010 and I got this:

Worried more about that late season [change] in mechanics than hip. 

Make of it what you will.

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