Let's talk some Astros, everyone...
1) Brett Myers, closer - First off, thanks to the anonymous tipster who told me about the Myers move in an email Monday. I do appreciate the heads-up quite a bit, but I'll be honest, the reason I didn't do anything with it is this article loomed large in my mind.
However, here we are on Tuesday and Myers is heading to the bullpen to take over that closer's role. My first reaction yesterday was that I was as underwhelmed with the move as I would be if Brandon Lyon was named the closer.
But, as I think about it more, it's a pretty smart move. Houston doesn't need a closer, but they could use another spot in the rotation for the young guys to develop. Also, Brett Myers has virtually no trade value right now coming off his lackluster 2011 season. Moving him to closer may make him more attractive to a team in trade, since every team goes fishing for bullpen arms in July. If Houston eats 75 percent of his contract at that point, they might get a pretty good prospect for him.
Other than that, I have no strong feelings on the move at all. Would I have liked to see one of the younger guys in the closer role? Sure. But, this team isn't going to need a closer very often, so it's not hurting the future too much.
Now, before we move off this particular issue, let's touch on how effective Myers could be in that role. He won't have elite velocity on his fastball, but I'd expect his average velocity to peek back up over 90 MPH with the move. I think the accepted thinking is that the move to the 'pen adds about 3 MPH to that fastball, which barely gets Myers over 90.
At the same time, his slider has been one of his best weapons of late, and I'm sure he'll be using that much more in this new role. Plus, you can expect him to use his two-seamer more than his four-seamer this time around in the closer's role, generating ground balls to get through the ninth instead of trying strike everyone out. That'll lead to more blown saves, but it could be effective.
Let's talk two more things after the jump...
2) Jim Crane leaning heavily towards new unis in 2013 - In a not-entirely-unexpected bit of news, we almost get confirmation that new uniforms will be in the mix for 2013. Remember, because of MLB's policy for all uniform changes being in place before the start of the season before they are to go into effect. That means any changes need to be agreed upon by Opening Day 2012.
If I were a betting man, I'd say they move back to the Navy Blue and Orange. Not the 70's stripey things, but something more in line with the original colors back from the Colt .45 days. Which is fantastic and really makes me excited to see which direction they move in.
It's also not that surprising from a marketing standpoint. Teams update their uniforms all the time, because it gives them more opportunity to sell merchandise. I mean, how many of you will go out and pick up a new hat once the new design is announced? I know I will.
It's a small story in the scheme of things, but it's the latest in a line of stories that show Jim Crane gets how alienated the fan base is right now and that he needs to fix things quickly.
3) The weekend college roundup - Two days later, let's look at how some of the top candidates for that No. 1 pick performed in the college ranks last weekend:
Mark Appel - After a bump on the first weekend, Appel returned to dominant from last weekend. 10 Ks in 7 innings, but it came against a Texas squad that hasn't found its footing yet. The Longhorns are young this season, but that doesn't take away from what Appel did.
Kevin Gausman - The draft eligible sophomore hasn't disappointed yet. Against Appalachian State, Gausman struck out seven and gave up four hits. His ERA is down to 0.69, but more importantly are the notes from Baseball America on his stuff, that he sat at 95 MPH for much of the game. I'm warming to the idea of Gausman at the top of the draft.
Michael Wacha - Well, I'm cheating a little here. Wacha hasn't been mentioned in the same breath as those other guys, but I really like him. Big frame, good command, nice feel for the game when you talk to him about pitching. I think he could be an innings eater at the big league level at worst and has the stuff to be a pretty good pitcher down the road. He pitched well against Holy Cross, striking out 11 in 7 innings. He's only given up three hits and no walks in 13 total innings this season. That's pretty good. If he lasts until the supplemental round or even the second, he'd make a great value.
Mike Zunino - Fighting through a strained groin, so his numbers haven't been very impressive. Teammate Preston Tucker has been absolutely on fire so far this season, but I'm not sure he can do enough to get in the No. 1 overall mix.