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Astros Sign Brett Myers

The Astros and GM Ed Wade weren't content to just wait out the January doldrums. They instead reached an agreement this afternoon with free agent pitcher Brett Myers, pending a physical. That's no small hurdle, given Myers recent injury history*, but apparently a team can fail or pass anyone it wants on physicals. It's mainly whether the team's comfortable with the risk.

That being said, here's some insta-analysis on Myers. If the Astros view him as the last link for the starting rotation, this move is at least defensible. Myers pitched just 18 games last season, 10 of which were starts while posting an ERA+ of 88. His FIP was terrible at 6.32 but his xFIP of 4.32 was decent. Myers will turn 30 in August, so he's still young(er than some Astros players), but has topped 100 innings only once in the past three seasons. His strikeout rate has steadily dropped, from 8.59 in 2006 to 6.37 last season. Of all his peripherals, that's the one that worries me the most. Myers was always a strikeout pitcher. If he can't get those, will he still be as effective.

Obviously, transitioning from Citizen's Bank Ballpark to Minute Maid will help his stats some, but his infield defense may be worse than in Philly. It's basically a tossup on how much help his defense will add or take away, though he shouldn't give up quite as many home runs. Bill James and CHONE project him as giving up 1.43 HR/9, which is just a tick above his career average of 1.32. That is probably in large part due to his HR/9 rate rising up to 2.29 in 2009 while his HR per FB rate was up over 10 points to 23.4% from his 2008 total and almost as much from his career rate of 15.5%.

The thing I don't like about this move is it probably bumps either Bud Norris or Felipe Paulino out of the rotation. Assuming he's healthy, Myers could be a good back-of-the-rotation starter, eating up some innings while providing league-average performance. The obvious choice to bump from the rotation would be Moehler, who is older, has pitched relief before and may not be able to sustain the marginal success he had last season.

However, in the past, Wade and Cooper gave more chances to veterans than to their own young players. Look no further than the decision to keep Jason Smith on the roster last spring over a guy like Edwin Maysonet. While Cooper is no longer the manager, Brad Mills is going to have to prove to me this spring that Norris and Paulino will be in the rotation before I get my hopes up about Moehler not throwing every five days.

Depending on the money and the length of the deal, this is a pretty good deal. I just hope the Astros don't mess up the consequences.