Jeff Luhnow has provided us with our first gift of the holiday season as new general manager of the Astros. Jerry Cransick appears to have been the first one to report the trade with Ken Rosenthal confirming.
In return for Mark Melancon the Astros receive shortstop Jed Lowrie and right handed starting pitcher Kyle Weiland from the Boston Red Sox.
In 2011 at the age of 24 Weiland posted a 7.66 ERA in 24.2 innings for the Red Sox in 7 games, 5 of which were starts. Obviously small sample size so we won't jump to any conclusions just yet. Weiland was drafted in the 3rd round and has had a steady climb through the minors. For his Minor League career he has a 3.51 ERA in 449.1 innings with a 1.215 WHIP, a 8.5 SO/9 and a 3.4 BB/9.
Weiland features a 90-95 fastball in a two-seam and four-seam variety, a 78-81 curveball, a 85-88 cutter and a low 80's changeup. I imagine the Astros will try him out as a starter and move him to the bullpen if necessary.
The switch hitting Lowrie has been in the majors since 2008 and has posted a .252/.324/.408 line in 256 games. With a Minor League .286/.381/.448 line, he has some untapped offensive potential. Injuries have been a big issue. If he can stay healthy he may be able to provide some offensive production at a premium defensive position.
Speaking of defense, the advanced defensive metrics have not been kind to him at the shortstop position the past couple seasons. However small sample sizes and injuries may have affected those ratings. He looks to be average defensively at second and third base. If anything he may turn into a decent utility infielder.
Gotta say I like this move. It's creative and something the previous front office probably wouldn't of gotten done. The Astros are taking on some risk here giving up a cost effective player in Melancon for Weiland an unproven pitcher and Lowrie a struggling position player. In the end though taking chances like these are what the Astros need to be doing. If the price for a potential starter and starting shortstop is a bullpen piece sign me up.