The Astros recently made a trade to send Carlos Lee and pretty much the rest of his salary to the Miami Marlins for 3rd baseman Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen. While there was a story on this yesterday, I wanted to highlight Matt Dominguez because I think he's a much more interesting prospect that a lot of people are giving him credit for. Dominguez profiles as a defense-first 3rd baseman with a strong and accurate arm and excellent range with many saying he would have gold-glove caliber defense at the major league level if he played enough at the position. The knock on him as a prospect is that his bat hasn't come around as much as the Marlins wanted. But he's only 22 years old and has plenty of time to improve. I have reason to believe he will.
Looking at his minor league numbers, there are a few things that stand out to me:
1. He hasn't struck out a whole lot this year with 31 strikeouts in 310 plate appearances, good enough for a 10.0% strikeout rate. Last year his K rate was at 14.0% and in years previous, it was higher. With the Marlins trying to shorten up his stroke at the plate before this season, the lower K rate may be a result of that. It's also interesting that he has only swung at 4.7% of pitches (OSwing%) that have been thrown outside of the strike zone, showing that he probably has excellent knowledge of the strike zone. Even Carlos Lee who has been know to have a low K rate over the years doesn't even have an OSwing% below 20%.
2. This year, he has a LD %, GB %, OFB% split of 14.5%, 39.6%, and 32.5%. These numbers really aren't that bad, but he has a .240 BABIP, which means he has been unlucky, or so we would think. The problem with analyzing players using only these statistics is that it doesn't exactly tell us how hard a player is hitting the ball, the angle the ball is hit toward compared to the horizontal or the area of the field he hits the ball toward. Without these kinds of data, it's harder to understand a player's performance since even LD, GB, and FB are all determined by the official scorer, which differs all throughout the league.
2.) Trades, trades, and more trades
The Astros have traded Carlos Lee for prospects, not necessarily salary relief. If it's any indication for future trades, the Astros had several candidates to play 1st base and with Lee not slugging the balls over the fence as much anymore, it made Lee expendable. But with a lack of bullpen arms in the minors, do the Astros really want to trade Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon if there's no depth?
It's an interesting question, but if you ask me, I think Brett Myers gets traded simply because of his $10M vesting option next year. The Astros really don't need a player earning that much money in the bullpen simply because there are much more cheaper options that would be available in free agency this year. I would think it's imperative and likely that the Astros are going to be dipping into the free agent pool for relief help. If you look at what Luis Ayala got in FA last off season, he's only making about $925,000 this year and he currently has an ERA below 2.00. I think trading Brett Myers for a team who wants a setup man, not a closer, and picking up a few pitchers in FA would be the better and cheaper option than keeping him and allowing his option to vest.
As for Brandon Lyon, he's currently making $5M this year, but does not have the performance to show for it. Currently, it's looking like we will be saying goodbye at the end of this year due to his performance. However, I would not be against re-signing him if it was for a much cheaper amount.
3.) A glimpse into the future?
I would like to thank TCB member Irish Pete for pointing out an interesting artifact in his fanpost here that appeared as the icon image for the Astros homepage on their website. While it could be nothing, and simply a software malfunction, there's plenty of reason to speculate that it could be related to an Astros logo change for next year. Let's take a look at a blown up image that I created:
As we can see, there's several references to the Astros. 1. We have a blue and orange color scheme. 2. It appears that there's a planet being eclipsed by something, with a ring surrounding the planet, following a space related theme. Like I said, it could be nothing, but what do you think?