Some things to talk about while we labor away to expand the rosters...
1) Adam Dunn traded
New Caney's favorite son may finally get a taste of the playoffs. Adam Dunn was traded over the weekend to the Oakland A's. With the news, Dunn also admits that, at 34, this is his last MLB season.
Dunn never played for the Astros, just grew up in the area. He played against the team for years, both with the White Sox, the Reds and now the A's. Yet, he's always been likeable. He's the kind of player who it's easy to root for from afar, because he seems so affable and his game is so quirky.
Basically, he was Chris Carter before it was cool to be Trogdor. From the four straight seasons of 40 homers on the nose to that neat story about then-hitting coach Mike Greenwell helping turn him into a monster at Double-A. Oh, and also there were the strikeouts, the terrible plays in the field and the general Dunn-ness of it all.
What do you think? Did you follow Dunn closely in his career? Are you happy to see him get a shot at the postseason? Or, do you think this move pretty much dooms Oakland to finish behind the Mariners for that second wild card spot?
2) Justin Masterson a bargain?
Justin Masterson turned down an extension with the Cleveland Indians before the season and proceeded to have a terrible 2014 campaign. Instead of the Indians hanging onto him, they traded Masterson to the Cardinals for James Ramsay.
Mickey Callaway, Masterson's pitching coach in Cleveland, suggested Masterson's decrease in velocity is due to the knee injury he suffered in July. That's plausible, considering a knee injury could affect a pitcher's mechanics if not fully healed. And even if the knee is healthy, it might still be in the back of Masterson's head, causing him to subconsciously alter his mechanics. To further this claim, Masterson pitched exclusively from the stretch on Saturday in order to simplify things.
But even though it's clear Masterson is having a season to forget, we must take into account his lack of luck. Opposing batters are hitting .348 on balls in play against Masterson, which is the fourth-highest BABIP among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings. That's a bit unusual considering Masterson owns a career .307 BABIP. This can be somewhat explained by the horrific defense he had to put up with in Cleveland (the Indians are dead last in Ultimate Zone Rating). On the other hand, the Cardinals are top seven in UZR, yet Masterson is still allowing a .342 BABIP. But I'm going to chalk that up to a small sample size. It's also not helping that he's giving up a higher line-drive percentage.
Why do I bring him up? Masterson seems like a great fit for the Astros this winter. Since he was traded, he won't be tied to compensation. Since he's been awful this year, he won't be very expensive. Since he's had bad luck, he could bounce back quickly.
The real concern is the drop in velocity. Houston hasn't had a good track record of dealing with pitcher injuries or evaluating arms in danger. If Masterson's velocity issues are not due to the knee injury and are due to something else, they could be eating a pretty hefty contract.
Yet, it's intriguing to think what Brent Strom could do with Masterson. What if Strom could tweak something mechanically to create better results? Masterson certainly fits the Cardinals/Astros profile for ground ball pitchers, though Masterson walks a bit too many batters to fit neatly into that label.
Still, it's a name to keep an eye on this winter. Him and Jaime Garcia.
3) Deduno claimed
So, no. Samuel Deduno was not a replacement level pitcher. He was a below replacement-level starter, and an above replacement-level reliever. True to form, his final appearance as a Twin had him throwing 2.1 innings in a blowout and striking out five batters while giving up a run. He had something like talent, was cheap, and could easily be a part of the Twins' bullpen in 2015, or traded to another club for something.
Houston's bullpen needs help. It's better than last season, but still not good. Getting a guy like Deduno for free, when he's cheap and an effective long reliever. He gives Houston some depth in case Peacock implodes in a start and helps for 2015 as well.
What's more, seeing a Twins fans express such outrage at the loss is always nice. You never want to see a team cackling in the distance when the hometown nine picks up a player. You'd rather it sting, like Bates mentions. When it also came for free, which is the other side of his argument, it's even better.
Will Deduno do much this season? Probably not. But, building a bullpen is an inexact science. If he can stabilize things like Anthony Bass was supposed to do this year, it's a bang-up move for Houston. If not, they'll keep taking fliers on players until the bullpen gets fixed.
That's not a problem, either. They don't need the bullpen fixed until 2017, anyways. Can't be making a Series run without a solid back end.