So the Astros Transaction Train is picking up steam, though from the looks of things, it's not so much leaving the station as much as shuffling to another loading area. Apparently we're ready to give up Kepp for Bill Hall, and now because of some offhand remark by Brian McTaggart, a man whose prowess behind the keyboard is largely criticized, fans are starting to weigh in on Wandy getting his papers in exchange for some prospects. Now, that's not entirely a horrible idea, though I don't want that myself, but it'sthe tone withwhich this conversation came about and with whicch it continues that bothers me the most, so, after the jump. . .
Ok, jump. I guess I'm still new enough to posting that it really tickled me plum to death that there's a such thing as a jump. It's fun. Ok, back to topic. I haven't seen a large surge of support for this, but the fact that there is any is absolutely baffling to me. Why in the hell are we givingup a .285 hitting Jeff Keppinger for a guy that hasn't posted a respectable batting average since 2005. Now I only have one answer for this, Longball Syndrome, the idea that a home run automatically solves all your offenses woes completely independent of any other stats. We're getting rid of a solid player for a guy who has no true position;I think he played everywhere but first and catcher last year including a scoreless inning in relief, because we hope he can his 20 longballs, something he's only done once, four years ago, and that was an anomaly in his otherwise pathetic looking career. I like his versatility, but he's a man that does all things well and none great.
His career OBP is a mark Kepp only fell to once, his average is a low that Kepphas never sunk to, and his fielding percentages are a joke for a guy with no stick. I don't know whatUZR is, but I've seen that in relation to fielding, so maybe that justifies this in some way I'm not familiar with. Hall had 104 strikeouts last year. Kepp has had 105 in the last 4 years. Their walk numbers are similar, but Kepp did show an improvement when he was given a full time gig, which is something else to consider for anyone saying his .285 isn't repeatable. Hall is a career .250 hitter who hit .247 last year, but that doesn't look repeatable either considering he was closer to the Mendoza Line in 08 and 09. Which Bill Hall do we get? The guy whose on base percentage looks like a barely acceptable batting average but he couldn't slug his way out of a wet paper bag, or the Bill Hall whose on base percentage looks like a good batting average and he can pop maybe a handful more homers than Kepp, but at what cost?
Now I know not all Astros fans like this trade, but I know there are some out there that do, so this is for them, if you don't like it, then we're on the same page.
More distressing to me is the idea of trading Wandy, and that the idea is actually picking up steam among some of the rumblers. We all know that Wandy has posted an ERA in the 3's the last three seasons and seems to finally have found his pace. He's a real pitcher, not just a thrower who gets up and says, "I'm gonna throw as hard as I can and hope he doesn't hit it." Which is good because as hard as he can is 91 on a good day and closer to 88 if I recall. Feel free to correct me.
Now to clarify, I'm not against trading Wandy for the right package, and I'm not even asking a Roy Oswalt like haul, though God knows we didn't get much for him, though I remain optimistic about Wallace's odds as he settles into the Majors. We all have growing pains, and not all of us have them in front of 45,000 fans almost every night for six months. The thing that bothers me is the logic behind it. Tag said something about how Wandy was 32, and how he had a horrible first half which made him a risk for an extension. I don't like this assessment.
Except for his July 19th start where he gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings 15 of his last 16 starts were quality including a streak of 13 in a row to end the season, but we all know about his amazing second half right? I think we overstate his "horrible" first half just a bit. Looking at the literal first half of his season, 16 of his 32 starts, he had 8 quality starts and two starts that would have been quality had he gone the required 6 innings, but he only went 5. His ERA actually peaked at 6.09 after his 14th start and he went on to wow us for the rest of the season. He allowed more than four earned runs only five times, but the part that really drove up his ERA was that twice he allowed eight earned runs. On an Astros team where everyone looked about a step behind the competition for the first half I think he did pretty damned well.
Now his age, I've heard it said that lefties have more durability, but at the cost of velocity. I don't know why this is, but we see it carry true with Wandy, a soft throwing lefty with 25 starts or more in all of his six seasons and 30 or more in 4 of them including the last two. Anyone know that he's actually younger, by a token amount mind you, than a considerably more famous lefty who just signed a HUGE contract for five guaranteed years and, if I recall, an option for a sixth? Wandy has never had a Cy Young season, and thanks to his relative obscurity and the ridiculously good competition in 2009 he didn't even crack the top 10 in voting, but to be fair, Cliff Lee only had one legitimate Cy Young season himself.
Yes, I'm back to Cliff Lee, because I JUST DON'T GET IT! Admittedly he was good in '09 and 2010, but why are people so high on this man? I'm not gonna look up the game splits for his post-trade days in Arlington, but I can remember my friend who lives in Dallas practically having an orgasm when Lee went to the Rangers and then having to keep his nitro glycerin tablets close by every time Lee took the mound because he was getting slapped around. His playoffs were the same story. Dominant, innings eating lefty and then in the World Series, BAM! back to earth. Why doesn't Wandy get the respect Lee has "earned" after one good, okay great, season in 2008? Why is Tag saying Wandy, a guy with almost no injury history, old at 32 but Cliff Lee was worth 5/120mil and Doc was worth 3/60mil at the same age Wandy is now? Now to be fair, I only use Doc as a comparison by age and length of contract, not ability because the man is just not human. If Lee is supposed to be viable at 37 years old, which I doubt, why isn't Wandy worth extending now that he's finally figured it out?