BRADENTON FL - FEBRUARY 20: Infielder Steve Pearce #51 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 20 2011 in Bradenton Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
On Saturday, the Astros claimed Steve Pearce off waivers from Baltimore and dredged Armando Galarraga out of AAA Oklahoma City. In related moves, the Astros optioned Fernando Abad and outrighted Aneury Rodriguez and Enerio Del Rosario.
The Crawfish Boxes has discussed Galarraga ad-naseum since the Astros acquired him earlier in the year. He is back-of-rotation filler at best, and not a part of the long-term plan. His fame will always be tied to the perfect game that wasn't last seasons with the Detroit Tigers.
The acquisition of Steve Pearce, 29, is interesting though. Pearce is a guy it seems nobody can figure out. He was something of a prospect with the Pirates, but has been in the big leagues since 2007, without making much noise. However, leaving his story there would be incomplete. Never once in any season has Pearce seen more than 186 plate appearances (2009), despite a nice career BB% of 8.8 and a low career SO% of 20.0%. His BABIP has fluctuated wildly from .243 to .357, probably due to the smallish sample sizes. So is Pearce really a guy who has struggled in the majors, or just a guy who never got his fair shake?
The move looks like another Lunhow "no-risk, buy-low" one, because in 2,273 minor-league plate appearances, Pearce hit .294/.371/.523. In other words, this is exactly the type of high-reward move we want to see the Astros make. If Pearce gets 300 plate appearances (more or less) between now and the end of the season while playing 1B and LF, he could be an attractive DH option for 2013 or at least a guy with improved trade stock that the Astros paid nothing for.
The other side of this coin is what it says about our friends currently in AAA. More and more, it's looking as if Houstonians will not see Brett Wallace, Jimmy Paredes, Fernando Martinez, Brandon Barnes, or any of the other top performing minor leaguers in 2012. More likely, the Astros are playing for the 1st overall draft pick in 2013 and will begin next season with a lineup that looks oddly similar to this season's AAA lineup. It would be an interesting strategy to see if so many players being brought up all at once after playing together for a full season will negate any first-year jitters one sometimes sees with a very young roster in the majors.
Meanwhile, it is reasonable to expect that Pearce will grab regular playing time in Houston until the end of the season...his first real opportunity to showcase the promise shown by his minor league offensive numbers.