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Monday, February 04, 2013

MLBTR: Athletics acquire Jed Lowrie in five-player deal

At this moment, there are still no reports that this trade has somehow injured Jed Lowrie.

The Astros announced that they sent shortstop Jed Lowrie to the Athletics in a five-player trade. The Astros acquire first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi from the A’s in the deal, which sends right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland along with Lowrie.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 04, 2013 at 07:40 PM | 166 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, trades, transactions

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 04, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4362710)
Isn't Peacock supposed to be a good prospect? I don't give up anything of value for Jed Lowrie at this stage. (At first I was thinking Brett Lawrie which got me worked up for a second.) Sure, if he ever stays healthy he might be as good as ... Stephen Drew? He's already 29 and into his arb years.

It will be interesting to see if Carter can maintain his production from last half-season. He is "the" Chris Carter at b-r now after all. Apparently either the A's think he's the next Carlos Pena or they don't think he's the next Carlos Pena.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4362714)
Isn't Peacock supposed to be a good prospect?


He had some issues last year, but was generally very well-regarded coming into the season. Stassi finally showed a few signs of life with the bat last year, too.

On the whole, it's a very interesting collection of lottery tickets for the Astros.
   3. Danny Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4362715)
Welcome back, Daric Barton.

Lowrie should be a big upgrade at SS when healthy. Najakima doesn't seem to have the glove to play SS, and ZIPS actually has Lowrie outhitting Carter in 2013. Still, this seems like an overpay. Lowrie's only under control for two years and is very injury-prone--yet they gave up more than they did in acquiring Jaso.

Lowrie's career splits:

vs. RHP: .230/.309/.385 (893 PA)
vs. LHP: .292/.362/.486 (414 PA)

Not huge samples, but he seems to be about as much of a switch hitter as Bobby Kielty pretended to be.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:04 PM (#4362718)
Walt, re: Peacock, yeah, but looks like he was horrible at AAA this year.

Lowrie presumably won't be playing much SS, as assuming Nakajima doesn't flop (which to be fair is quite possible, but presumably not what the team is planning...), the squad's needs are greater at both 2B and 3B. (I'm sure the team would hope Jemile Weeks comes back to fix the 2B thing, but we shall see.)

Fern-Rod doesn't throw as hard as I like my "has an arm, doesn't know how to pitch yet" guys to throw.

My first inclination is that this works out well for Oakland if Lowrie hits better once moved off SS, or if Peacock washes out. They did give up a couple of potentially valuable guys here.
   5. asinwreck Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:07 PM (#4362722)
Man, Kevin Goldstein loves Chris Carter.
   6. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4362724)
Can we set up a ghetto where you guys talk about baseball on this site?
   7. haven Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4362736)
I understand how Lowrie can help the A's in the short term.

But as Vlad said this is "a very interesting collection of lottery tickets for the Astros."
   8. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4362737)
What a weird, interesting trade. I do like that the Astros basically turned Mark Melancon into four players who could supply varying degrees of usefulness.
   9. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4362744)
Good trade for the Astros, who I had no idea Jed Lowrie was on. Meh for the A's.
   10. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:46 PM (#4362749)
Man, Kevin Goldstein loves Chris Carter.
Makes sense. Carter's shown power and patience since he reached pro ball. I don't know anything about his glove, but the dude can hit.

Hmm. BBRef shows his glove all but swallowing his hitting.
   11. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4362752)
This trade makes a lot of sense for the Astros. Lowrie is going to make a massive $2.4M salary this year while Carter is still pre-arb and making the minimum. Also I guess they get prospects or whatever.
   12. Lassus Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:53 PM (#4362758)
That isn't the Mets' Chris Carter, is it?

EDIT: Guess not. His last season was 2010. Yikes!
   13. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:58 PM (#4362761)
It's also not new NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter.
   14. Drexl Spivey Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:59 PM (#4362762)
From the article:

As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out (on Twitter), the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.


   15. Al Kaline Trio Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4362773)
As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out (on Twitter), the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.


Michael Bourn come on down!
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:12 PM (#4362776)
vs. RHP: .230/.309/.385 (893 PA)
vs. LHP: .292/.362/.486 (414 PA)

Not huge samples, but he seems to be about as much of a switch hitter as Bobby Kielty pretended to be.
In 2012, though, the split went exactly the other way. 824 OPS as a LHB, 623 as a RHB.

Lowrie's isoP and iso(walks? what do we call that?) are very similar from both sides of the plate - .079/.155 from the left, .070, .196 from the right. The difference is mostly a 50 point BABIP gap. I would guess that he's not that much better as a righty.

From watching Lowrie, he had more power from the right side, but he seemed like a perfectly fine hitter as a lefty. Smart hitter, too, knows the strike zone and looks for his pitch.
   17. JRVJ Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:14 PM (#4362778)
Sickels recently wrote that the Astros were the 10th best farm system in baseball, which is partially because their most recent draftees hadn't moved through the system.

Well, at this rate, they will be picking number 1 for at least 3 more drafts.

By the time they are halfway decent, they will have a farm system that will beat anything we've ever seen (including the Royals of a few years ago).
   18. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:36 PM (#4362783)
That isn't the Mets' Chris Carter, is it?


You're old.
   19. OCD SS Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:56 PM (#4362788)
In 2012, though, the split went exactly the other way. 824 OPS as a LHB, 623 as a RHB.


Wasn't there an argument about his splits that he's taken a good number of PAs with a bad wrist, so that when that wrist was the top hand he couldn't drive the ball at all? (I think this was a big issue in 2008 or 2009...)

I don't recall hearing that the issue with his switch hitting is a matter of approach or skill, just that it's been affected by his never ending health issues...
   20. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:56 PM (#4362789)
Lowrie should be a big upgrade at SS when healthy.


Big assumption. As Walt says, he's already 29 and he hasn't played 100 games in a season (even combining levels) since 2008. The public stuff coming out of Oakland suggests that Nakajima is still the guy and that Lowrie is just a hedge. I guess we'll see.

-- MWE
   21. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:16 PM (#4362794)
Wasn't there an argument about his splits that he's taken a good number of PAs with a bad wrist, so that when that wrist was the top hand he couldn't drive the ball at all? (I think this was a big issue in 2008 or 2009...)

I don't recall hearing that the issue with his switch hitting is a matter of approach or skill, just that it's been affected by his never ending health issues...


That argument has been made but until he can prove he can do it I think it's fair to be skeptical.

I've never been a big believer in Lowrie. I think he's a tweener. He doesn't have the bat to play a corner, he doesn't have the glove or athleticism to play up the middle and when he's played for any extended period he's been exposed. Whether that's a function of not being able to stay healthy or being exploited over time is something to be argued but at this point i think is irrelevant. He had a walk off hit to win the ALDS in 2008 so I'll always pull for him but I wouldn't count on him.

EDIT: I'll add he can be a huge tease. When he gets hot...holy crap does he get hot. He went through a few stretches with the Red Sox where he would post just ridiculous numbers. I know every hitter gets hot but when Lowrie was locked in it was something else.
   22. salvomania Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:32 PM (#4362795)
Curious to see what playing half his games in the juice box does for Carter.

Last year he averaged 1 homer per 11 ab and slugged .557 on the road, and 1 homer per 24 ab (.458 slugging) in Oakland.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4362796)
the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.

Y'know, it's one thing if your whole team makes less than ARod, but when your whole team makes less than Anibal Sanchez ....
   24. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4362800)
Y'know, it's one thing if your whole team makes less than ARod, but when your whole team makes less than Anibal Sanchez ....


To be fair I think Sanchez will generate more WAR than the Astros.
   25. Dale Sams Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4362802)
From the dept of ridiculous data points. Lowrie's 2.1 WAR in 97 games would place him fourth among 2012 Red Sox field players. His 16 HRs exceeds Pedroia and AGon (with the Sox)
   26. PreservedFish Posted: February 04, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4362803)
Seems like a steep price for a "hedge."
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4362808)
Seems like a steep price for a "hedge."

hey have ??? at 2B, SS and 3B. If he's healthy, he'll get 130 starts easy.
   28. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4362812)
Yeah, I mean what was Plan A at third before this move? Donaldson (is that even his name?)? Sizemore?

You gotta figure that Lowrie is the only 2B/3B/SS starter set in stone at this point, just we don't know yet where he'll play.
   29. base ball chick Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:37 PM (#4362819)
asinwreck Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:07 PM (#4362722)

Man, Kevin Goldstein loves Chris Carter.


- WHY?????


Athletic Supporter gangnam style Posted: February 04, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4362744)

Good trade for the Astros, who I had no idea Jed Lowrie was on. Meh for the A's.


- good trade for the astros?

a guy with a SIX ERA at AAA? chris failed carter?

and you get that the astros SS is tyler greene who can't hit or field and marwin gonzalez who is maybe average on a good day
   30. MM1f Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4362821)
Man, Kevin Goldstein loves Chris Carter.

Makes sense. Carter's shown power and patience since he reached pro ball. I don't know anything about his glove, but the dude can hit.


Power, patience, no-glove sluggers aren't exactly Goldstein's typical types. Despite his Prospectus background, he was always pretty vocal on his podcast about his preference for tool fiends and athletes over the walks+power+bad glove guy that Prospectus stereotypically loves.
   31. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:43 PM (#4362824)
Like seemingly most people, I like this deal for both teams.
   32. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:48 PM (#4362825)
There were too many IF question marks for the A's and while I love Carter's power, it's unclear how much playing time he was going to see with the 4 headed starting OF, plus Seth Smith. A big if, but if Lowrie stays healthy, I think it's a reasonable move.

I'd like to see Donaldson get a clean shot to win the 3B job outright. He just started playing the position regularly last year and put up positive WAR on both sides of the ball. He wasn't very selective at the plate in the majors, but has a pretty good record in the minors for drawing walks too. I'm not sure why, but I like him as a breakout guy this year...
   33. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:49 PM (#4362827)
- good trade for the astros?

a guy with a SIX ERA at AAA? chris failed carter?


Possibly a very good trade for the Astros. Carter has contact issues, but also big-time power (16 HR last year in only 218 AB, in a pretty big pitcher's park), and could be a very nice DH for Houston for a couple of years. And while Peacock didn't pitch well last year, he's still a very promising pitcher with three good pitches - BA rated him as the A's #4 prospect this offseason. Even Stassi has a shot to make it, since he's a good glove with a little pop.

No sure things, but plenty of upside.
   34. JJ1986 Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4362828)
That isn't the Mets' Chris Carter, is it?


Fun fact: Neither one is actually named Chris. This one is Vernon; I don't remember what the Mets one was.
   35. Spahn Insane Posted: February 04, 2013 at 11:55 PM (#4362829)
and could be a very nice DH for Houston for a couple of years.

Now you've done it.
   36. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4362830)
the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.

Y'know, it's one thing if your whole team makes less than ARod,


I believe "half" is the term you were looking for there...And yes, the Astros probably will generate more WAR then A-rod this season.
   37. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4362834)
So . . weak armed shortstops are the new inefficiency?
   38. base ball chick Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:26 AM (#4362835)
lowrie does not have a weak arm - he did fine with defense until he got hurt mid season

now we get to have 2 guys who suck. i hope they are not thinking of using jonathan villar because he would make mo vaughn look good at short
   39. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4362837)
On the plus side, you got rid of 1 pitcher who sucks.
   40. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:38 AM (#4362842)
I really like the deal for the Astros. I'm glad BBC is calling them "we". I was worried there for a while. As an A's fan, I get that Lowrie is probably more valuable than Carter on a per game basis if they really believe in Moss, but Carter can really hit and could be David Ortiz for the Astros. Even with a terrible team a guy who hits 40 HR really really far and hard is entertainment.
   41. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:57 AM (#4362848)
I like Chris Carter, always hoped he'd finally finally start hitting for the A's, and last year was great fun.
But I totally get the "sell high" here. If he turns out to be David Ortiz, well, too bad, but the odds are agin' it.
   42. SteveM. Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:10 AM (#4362852)
I am starting to think the Astros will be historically bad this year. As a Cubs fan, it makes me sad to realize they are no longer in the NL Central.
   43. Austin Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:39 AM (#4362855)
Even with a terrible team a guy who hits 40 HR really really far and hard is entertainment.

I normally don't even think to consider this aspect, but I agree with you that the value of a pure home run hitter for a team like the Astros probably goes beyond his on-field contributions. It's one thing if your crappy team at least provides moments of excitement; it's quite another if they put the fans to sleep.

I am starting to think the Astros will be historically bad this year. As a Cubs fan, it makes me sad to realize they are no longer in the NL Central.

I remember reading an article last year that posed the following question: "Who would you bet on to lose more games next season: the Astros, or the worst team in the AL?" I thought I was really smart for picking the worst team in the AL, because surely the worst out of 14 has better odds than any single team, right? As it turned out... I was very wrong. (I had thought it was this article, which is very funny - it asks questions like "Which will be higher - Ben Revere's on-base percentage or his slugging average?" - and still worth reading, but unfortunately doesn't contain anything about the Astros' record.)

Anyway, I'm still wary about predicting (i.e. with greater than 50% odds) that the Astros will have the worst record next season, but I wonder if that experience from last year should encourage me to have more faith in the seemingly obvious fact that they have almost no talent on their major league roster and will be playing in a significantly better division. I still have this sense that we should continue to respect the normal rules of projection and bet on the worst of the other 29 teams over the Astros, and I'll happily eat crow if they have a 2003 Tigers-type season.

Also, there's no way they can start the season with a sub-$20M payroll, right? What's the lowest they can get away with? I really have no sense of what the league will tolerate. Maybe Bourn will take a pillow contract with the Astros after all.
   44. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4362856)
Fun fact: Neither one is actually named Chris. This one is Vernon; I don't remember what the Mets one was.


William. I remember because he was one of those fringey guys I like to see succeed. WCC had a so-so year in the minors in 2011, but caught on with Seibu as a part-timer in 2012, where he [checks BBRef] had an impressive number of RBIs in few PAs; 27/138, it looks like, and was 2nd on the club in OPS. He'll play somewhere.
   45. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:47 AM (#4362857)
Also, there's no way they can start the season with a sub-$20M payroll, right?
I'd sort of like to see how this works out, in a horrified fascination kind of way.
   46. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:00 AM (#4362864)
Lowrie??!!??

Man, Beane is gonna get to just rape Kevin Towers when Towers finds out Lowrie is available.
   47. Tripon Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:13 AM (#4362866)
Oh come on, not even Kevin Towers can trade for 4 shortstops in one off season.
   48. 33Boots Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:16 AM (#4362867)
Like it for both teams. I don't think Astros fans will be disappointed once they get a chance to watch Chris Carter hit. He's a massive human being and he crushes the ball (although his game power has never quite matched up with his bp power...still when he gets a hold of one, holy smokes). He's got hitting skill as well. He hit .337 over a full season of AA. Truly atrocious fielder, so he's strictly a DH realistically, but he's got a good chance of being the Astros best hitter, and very fun to watch. Peacock and Stassi...meh. Peacock will probably be a decent reliever if he can't hack it as a starter, and maybe a good one. He throws hard and has swing and miss stuff. It's not hard to see Stassi as a backup MLB catcher with his makeup and defensive skills, plus some pop.

Lowrie is an obvious upgrade over what the A's currently have, and will be a nice addition for the time he is healthy. Stanford guy, so he has local ties as well. Funny thing is I remember before the 05 draft when the A's had two 1st round picks and there was some local heat on the A's taking Lowrie, an article came out the week before that the A's weren't even considering him and weren't fans. I always thought that was weird.

   49. base ball chick Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:22 AM (#4362869)
they
DO YOU SEE THAT???!!! NO EFFUPS THIS TIME!!!!!

THEY

have already paid carlos pena the enormous sum of 2.5 mill to be a DH - you think they just throw money like that down the drain?
where on earth do you get chris carter hitting 40 homers a year? he didn't do that after years in the PCL

i hope froddy is lights out - i love that guy for absolutely no reason whatsoever - he's great at coming in and stranding runners
   50. vivaelpujols Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:52 AM (#4362871)
Disagree with Walt/1. According to FanGraphs, Lowrie's been worth 6 WAR in 1300 PA career. Which makes him an average to above average player over a full season. He's been an average hitter (98 wRC+ with only a .282 BABIP, with the bulk of that coming in the AL East) and an average defender of short stop. 29 is not that old, it's the tail end of his prime and he likely has 2-3 years of 1 WAR production left. Obviously health is an issue, but I'd rather bet on his health than a pitching prospects'. Brad Peacock looks like a decent starter, but Lowrie's already an established above average player.
   51. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:50 AM (#4362880)
when he gets a hold of one, holy smokes)

I used to think that about Chris Carter, but then the A's got Cespedes. He makes baseballs disappear FAST.
   52. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 05, 2013 at 08:25 AM (#4362893)
I don't know what to make of this trade. The A's have cleared out a lot of interesting young talent this winter to bring in Jaso and Lowrie. This has been a weird offseason for the team and I haven't quite put the parts together. I guess Lowrie is a small upgrade on Nakajima and Jaso is a small upgrade on Kottaras, but I'm not sure the marginal upgrades here are worth all the talent they shipped out. The Gio Gonzales trade is now a near disaster. Tommy Millone wasn't supposed the centerpiece of that deal.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4362896)
I think Lowrie is less a small upgrade on Nakajima than a large upgrade on Donaldson who also gives you cover for Nakajima if he can't handle the position. (They did't add a real 3B on the roster earlier, did they?)
   54. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 05, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4362898)
Dondaldson was very good when he came back from Sacramento last year--replacing Inge with Donaldson was one of the key improvements down the stretch for the team--so I'm not prepared to say Lowrie or Nakajima will be better than him going forward, especially at a position neither Lowrie and Nakajima play. Lowrie's #'s adjusted from moving from Houston to Oakland are not inspiring at all and he's made of glass. The more I think about this, the more I think Billy was too clever for his own good on this one. I'm not against adding Lowrie to improve the team's depth, but I think Carter/Peacock/Stassi was too much to give up for that privilege. I suppose this means Brandon Moss sees a lot of time at 1st base now.
   55. karlmagnus Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4362927)
Now Lowrie's on the same team as Reddick he will surely have an All-Star season, just as a commentary on the current Red Sox management!
   56. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4362928)
One of my favorite A's posters pointed out that they can now platoon all over the place -- Young/Smith, Jaso/Norris and Lowrie/Someone maybe Weeks. It's not that Lowrie is an upgrade over Nakajima or Donaldson, it's that he's an upgrade over Rosales or whoever would have gotten the PA that he's now going to hopefully get.
   57. villageidiom Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4362936)
If he's healthy, he'll get 130 starts easy.
I can play this game, too! If Jose Iglesias develops power, he'll hit 55 HR in a season, easy.

For a SS you need someone who can stay healthy. Being on the DL will make you non-productive at any position, but it's that period when you're back but not 100% that will make the difference at SS. If Lowrie has limited range, limited arm, whatever, as a result of a recent injury he will hurt the team much more than, say, a similar issue for a 1B (to take an extreme counterexample).

Boston had an issue with Lowrie where he was on the DL seemingly constantly. He also had issues when he was returning less than 100% from an injury. He was OMGTEHJEDS!! when 100%, but Lowrie being 100% is far more rare than Boston could tolerate from him as a "full-timer".
   58. Sean Forman Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4362938)
I really am amazed by what the Astros are doing. Are they are 45 win team? a 50 win team? Moving to the AL they should lose a couple wins, but they are trading anyone making any amount of money. The success cycle folks ought to be loving this.

Here is their current 40-man with payroll.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/HOU/2012-roster.shtml

Bud Norris $3m
Carlos Pena $2.9m
Jose Veras $2m
Humber $1.3m
Wesley Wright $1m,
Then 3 3rd year pre-arb guys
and the rest are two years or under.

Excluding the $5.5m they paid to dump Wandy and Snyder their payroll is projected to be $20m.
   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4362943)
For a SS you need someone who can stay healthy. Being on the DL will make you non-productive at any position, but it's that period when you're back but not 100% that will make the difference at SS.

But, he's probably not going to be a "SS". If they use him a more of a Tony Phillips style, almost full-time utility man, that should be mitigated.
   60. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4362948)
where on earth do you get chris carter hitting 40 homers a year? he didn't do that after years in the PCL


16 HR in 218 AB last year. That total would have finished second on last year's Astros, only two behind Maxwell.

40 might be a stretch, but if things go well, 30 is well within the range of possibility.
   61. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4362955)
Seems like a lot to give up for a good infielder who can't stay healthy and isn't particularly young anymore. Lowrie will be 29 in April, and has yet to play 100 games in a season. He's not exactly on the way up. True, all the players Houston is getting are past prospect status, but guys like Carter and even Peacock could surprise if given the chance, and Stassi is young enough to have some upside.

I'd expect Lowrie to play at 3B and maybe be a hedge at 2B if Weeks continues to suck.

I really am amazed by what the Astros are doing. Are they are 45 win team? a 50 win team?


Seems like every time we think a team is on their way to becoming historically bad, they end up being a routine 95-100 loss team, or sometimes even better (I believe some were predicting historically a bad season for the 2012 A's). CAIRO's quick and dirty projection last December had Houston at 60-102, and I don't think Houston has appreciably worsened the team since then.
   62. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4362963)
THEY

Too late

where on earth do you get chris carter hitting 40 homers a year? he didn't do that after years in the PCL

I made it up. Besides, lots of 40 HR guys in the majors never did that in the minors.
   63. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4362997)
One of my favorite A's posters pointed out that they can now platoon all over the place -- Young/Smith, Jaso/Norris and Lowrie/Someone maybe Weeks.

I think this is the intention. Over at THT, Bojan Koprivica had a fascinating article yesterday where he talked about platooning and estimated the value a team could get out of platoons, using the A's last year as an example. They seem to very up on platoons in general, so that seems like a reasonable justification for the trade.
   64. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4363034)
Carter hit 38 just last year.
   65. salvomania Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4363043)
Carter hit 38 just last year.


28, split between AAA and Oakland.
   66. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4363074)
I think Lowrie is less a small upgrade on Nakajima than a large upgrade on Donaldson who also gives you cover for Nakajima if he can't handle the position.

Right. Seeing this as 'Lowrie's a bit better than Nakajima' is wearing blinders. Lowrie's much better than Donaldson turning out not to be that good, Lowrie's much better than Jemile Weeks' 2011 really was the outlier, Lowrie's much better than Nakajima can't hit in this league at all, Lowrie's much better than Sizemore never gets right, Lowrie's much better than Adam Rosales racks up 400 PA around the diamond, etc. Lowrie plays 3B just fine.
   67. just plain joe Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4363151)
If Jose Iglesias develops power, he'll hit 55 HR in a season, easy.


Now there would be some serious PED's.
   68. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4363169)
So is Weeks available? I know a few Royals fans that have kicked around the idea of KC trying to go after him.
   69. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4363172)
I really am amazed by what the Astros are doing. Are they are 45 win team? a 50 win team? Moving to the AL they should lose a couple wins, but they are trading anyone making any amount of money. The success cycle folks ought to be loving this.
I wonder if this is partly a function of the reform to the revenue sharing rules in the new CBA. The top 15 markets in MLB are banned from receiving revenue sharing profits - though I can't tell if this rule is immediately implemented or phased in - which means Houston can't just count on revenue sharing to create free profits even if their team sucks. So instead they just cut payroll to the very bone to guarantee profits.

I didn't think Jim Crane looked like a good addition to MLB ownership when he joined up. The baseball people in Houston seem quite impressive, but planning to build the Tampa Bay Rays in a massive urban area with a history of impressive support for their ballclubs, that's just shitty.
   70. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4363189)
I wonder if this is partly a function of the reform to the revenue sharing rules in the new CBA. The top 15 markets in MLB are banned from receiving revenue sharing profits - though I can't tell if this rule is immediately implemented or phased in


This is totally news to me. Does anyone know where I can read more about this bit?
   71. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4363194)

I didn't think Jim Crane looked like a good addition to MLB ownership when he joined up. The baseball people in Houston seem quite impressive, but planning to build the Tampa Bay Rays in a massive urban area with a history of impressive support for their ballclubs, that's just shitty.


Isn't this the strategy many on BTF call for? Raze it to the ground and do a complete rebuild? Jed Lowrie was not going to be "part of the next good Astros club" as Primates like to say so much. Seems like this is a pretty smart strategy, and much better than vainly trying to win 75 games every year by overpaying for mediocre talent.
   72. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4363196)
Reasonably good summary in this Jayson Stark piece:
There was a time in these negotiations when it looked as if the good old Competitive Balance Tax (a.k.a., the luxury tax) might not apply just to teams that spent "too much" on payroll. There was also lots of talk about a tax for teams that spent "too little" on their big league roster. (A $50 million threshold was kicked around, sources say.)

In the end, the tax on the bottom-feeders was dropped. But the revenue-sharing system is still changing in several important ways:

• If a team is receiving those big revenue-sharing bucks, it will no longer be allowed to spend that money on paying down debt, which has been a popular alibi over the years.

• Teams also now have to report specifically how they spent their revenue-sharing handouts to improve their big league team. No more generalities allowed.

• The union also pressed for, and got, a new rule that directly connects revenue-sharing money to big league payroll. So if you're getting revenue-sharing checks, the payroll of your 40-man roster now has to be at least 25 percent larger than the amount you're receiving. In other words, if your revenue-sharing check is for $40 million, your big league payroll needs to be at least $50 million. If it isn't, Weiner said, "you have the burden of proving you're in compliance" with the rule requiring that money to be spent on improving the major league team. In the past, that burden fell on the union.

• It wasn't so long ago that teams like the Phillies, Mets and Angels were GETTING revenue-sharing money, based on their revenues -- or lack thereof. That's about to become impossible. By the end of this labor deal in 2016, teams in the 15 largest markets will no longer be allowed to receive revenue-sharing welfare, no matter how lousy their TV contract or attendance may be.
So it looks like this year the Astros will be able to receive revenue sharing. At the same time, they're going to be under some very serious MLBPA scrutiny. I don't see how their current payroll/roster situation can stand up to any kind of scrutiny, unless there's a new owner exception.
   73. Swedish Chef Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4363198)
So instead they just cut payroll to the very bone to guarantee profits.

They still have a share of the common revenue that should be sufficient to run an A's payroll or the like on.
   74. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4363201)
Isn't this the strategy many on BTF call for? Raze it to the ground and do a complete rebuild? Jed Lowrie was not going to be "part of the next good Astros club" as Primates like to say so much.
There is absolutely zero empirical evidence of a "success cycle". Baseball is too unpredictable for it to be worthwhile to field a 50-win club for a couple seasons. The idea that you can know exactly when there will and won't be a winning club in any city (except Pittsburgh) is just not supported by the data.

Jed Lowrie could easily be a good player at 33. Any number of available competent players could have been signed who would help the club now, aren't blocking prospects, and aren't guaranteed to suck in 2016. The Astros will be filling many positions with players who are less likely to be contributors to the "next good Astros club" than most free agents, but who are on the team to save money for Jim Crane.

Also, the "raze it to the ground" strategy has to be predicated on an owner willing to take losses in the future paid for by present-day profits. If spending $10M on major league payroll doesn't lead to future clubs having more wiggle room, but just leads to new gold plating on Jim Crane's jacuzzi in his jet, it does nothing at all for the club.
   75. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4363203)
a guy with a SIX ERA at AAA? chris failed carter?


no this is the other "younger" Chris Carter,
Chris Failed Carter is 30 and hit .294/.348/.452 for Seibu last year.

Chris not yet failed Carter is 26 and just hit .239/.350/.514 for Oakland last year
he also has 182 minor league Home Runs, 32 more than Chris Failed Carter despite being 4 years younger.
   76. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4363210)
There is absolutely zero empirical evidence of a "success cycle". Baseball is too unpredictable for it to be worthwhile to field a 50-win club for a couple seasons. The idea that you can know exactly when there will and won't be a winning club in any city (except Pittsburgh) is just not supported by the data.


I agree, but Houston (a) had a pretty old team; (b) had a really crappy minor league system. It made sense for them to sell off everyone they could and build a minor league system up.

Jed Lowrie could easily be a good player at 33


Sure he could be. But you're counting on (a) being able to re-sign him; and (b) him still being useful at that age. Is that more likely, or is it more likely Chris Carter, Brad Peacock or Max Stassi become useful? I think its debatable.


Also, the "raze it to the ground" strategy has to be predicated on an owner willing to take losses in the future paid for by present-day profits. If spending $10M on major league payroll doesn't lead to future clubs having more wiggle room, but just leads to new gold plating on Jim Crane's jacuzzi in his jet, it does nothing at all for the club.


Agree, but we don't yet know what his intentions are, we're just speculating. Regardless, whether he pockets the money or not doesn't really matter as far as Luhnow's strategy, in fact, it makes it even smarter for him to raze the team now and build as many cheap assets as he can if he knows his owner will be cheap in the future.
   77. Danny Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4363217)
Today I learned Boston fans don't think much of Josh Donaldson. From most A's fans' perspectives, he's nothing great--but 3B was considered much less of a hole than SS or 2B.

He's a solid defender at his position--unlike Sizemore/Weeks at 2B or (reportedly) Nakajima at SS--and his bat came alive in the second half in his first year out from behind the plate. He was atrocious to start the year (.153/.160/.235 in 100 PA) before being demoted, but then tore up AAA (.335/.402/.598 in 234 PA) to earn a promotion after Inge went down. He then started all but one of the A's final 48 games, hitting .290/.356/.489 in 194 PA. ZIPS projects him to basically repeat his 2012 MLB performance, but Steamer, James, and Oliver are all a bit more optimistic.

The A's have a bunch of AAAA middle infielders to sort through now: Behind Lowrie, Donaldson and Nakajima are Sizemore, Weeks, Rosales, Sogard, and Parrino. That's a lot of depth, as there's not a ton of dropoff from starters to replacements. But that kind of depth is much easier to accomplish when your starters aren't that good. Of those latter five, only Rosales is out of options.

It sounds like they'll platoon Moss and Lowrie at 1B and have Lowrie play at different spots around the infield against RHP. I assume that means Sizemore at 2B and Nakajima at SS against LHP and mostly Lowrie/Nakajima against RHP. Weeks will probably start in AAA, though the A's had also planned on letting Grant Green play 2B there.
   78. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4363224)
I didn't think Jim Crane looked like a good addition to MLB ownership when he joined up. The baseball people in Houston seem quite impressive, but planning to build the Tampa Bay Rays in a massive urban area with a history of impressive support for their ballclubs, that's just shitty.


Maybe I'm missing your point but building the Tampa Bay Rays is not a bad strategy. If they put together a kick ass farm system that in 3-5 years pays major dividends that's a home run whether you are Tampa, Houston or New York. The Tampa Bay Rays with money to spend is a pretty formidable organization.
   79. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4363225)
I agree, but Houston (a) had a pretty old team; (b) had a really crappy minor league system. It made sense for them to sell off everyone they could and build a minor league system up.

Exactly. They were in as hopeless a situation, apart from market fundamentals, as we've had in awhile.
Also, razzing your club for picks is a marginally better strategy than it once was, given how bonus pools work (which Houston smartly exploited w/ the Correa draft).

I say play Nakajima at short - given the number of other changes in moving from NPB, avoiding a position change is likely for the best.
If he tanks, Lowrie (among others) can pick up the slack.
   80. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4363226)
I realize Donaldson had a huge 1st half / 2nd half split last year, plus 250 great PA in Sacramento, but these are Donaldson's ZiPS and CAIRO projections:

234/295/383 - ZiPS
234/311/394 - CAIRO

I don't think it's just Red Sox fans who are doubtful about Donaldson's likely production.
   81. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4363231)
I have doubts about Donaldson too, though I hope I'm wrong.
   82. GregD Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4363232)
Houston is just running a real-time experiment to test the various hypotheses of replacement level so we can sharpen our equations. Thanks, guys!
   83. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4363236)
Maybe I'm missing your point but building the Tampa Bay Rays is not a bad strategy.
Attempting to build the Tampa Bay Rays is a terrible strategy when you have a market that can support a $120M payroll with no trouble at all. Crane is massively undercapitalized for a big-market owner (for any owner, really), and he seems to be trying to win on the cheap because on the cheap is the only way he can function.

I don't buy that the Astros are better off shooting for 50 wins instead of 70. They'd have to start low, and they'd get their draft picks, but they would also have a much better shot at competing in the future if they tried to build a baseball club. They'd also be less likely to massively turn off the local fans. What's going on in Houston isn't a baseball strategy, it's a make Jim Crane more money now strategy.

To be clear, the Lowrie trade is defensible in baseball terms. But there's no defense for the Houston roster - they should have found actual major leaguers to fill the positions where they lacked prospects. They can sell Lowrie for a reasonable return and also play someone better than Tyler Greene at shortstop on opening day.
   84. Danny Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4363240)
I don't think it's just Red Sox fans who are doubtful about Donaldson's likely production.

Yes, but compare those projections to those of Weeks, Sizemore (who are both poor fielders at 2B), and Nakajima (who is reportedly a poor fielder at SS). The point isn't that Donaldson is good, it's that there are bigger holes for Lowrie to fill at 2B or SS.
   85. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4363245)
That's fair enough.

Though eyeballing the projections, there really isn't much difference between the guys listed. ZiPS wOBAs:

.298 - Nakajima
.297 - Donaldson
.296 - Sizemore
.290 - Weeks

.331 - Lowrie

There's a park adjustment needed, but Lowrie's an upgrade on everyone, with the bat. I wouldn't risk Lowrie's fragile body at 2B (presumably Nakajima could be shifted there), but it's fair enough to say you'd rather see Lowrie fill in for one of the other guys.
   86. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4363246)
I think the point is that there are plenty of holes all over the infield that Lowrie could potentially be called on to fill. Thus viewing Lowrie as a "hedge" at SS doesn't consider the whole picture.
   87. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4363247)
Besides, lots of 40 HR guys in the majors never did that in the minors.


I was curious so I looked it up. Last year there were 26 MLB players who have hit 40 or more homers in a big league season at some point in their lives. Only 1 (Ryan Howard) ever had a 40 homer minor league season. Only 6 ever had a 30 homer minor league season. In all cases I'm looking at combined stat lines.

The simple answer to why is that A) Players with that kind of power don't stay in the minors very long and B) they tend to develop the big power after they've already reached the big leagues.

Examples: Ryan Braun and Mark Teixiera were big time, MLB ready college bats, they didn't play a full season in the minors before coming up. Chipper Jones (15) and Miguel Cabrera (10) were good enough hitters to reach the big leagues before showing big power numbers in the minors, the power developed later.
   88. Bourbon Samurai Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4363249)
I was really surprised by how useful Donaldson was. I was sure he was going to be a complete waste of space.
   89. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4363259)
but they would also have a much better shot at competing in the future if they tried to build a baseball club. They'd also be less likely to massively turn off the local fans.


Meh. This sounds like old school CW. I don't see any evidence that building a competitive team helps young players become better in the future. And fans will come out when/if the team starts winning so long as the team doesn't continually dick them over in a Marlins-esque fire sale cycle.

I still recall an old Sports Illustrated article from the early 90s bemoaning how the Astros were selling off the entire team. How were they going to compete without old vets like Danny Darwin, Glenn Davis and Larry Anderson? The '91 Astros lost 97 games, but it was with young guys like Steve Finley, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio (and just imagine if they hold onto Luis Gonzalez, Kenny Lofton, and Curt Schilling!), and just two years later they won 85 games. Six years later they would go on a run of four playoff appearances in five seasons.



I was curious so I looked it up. Last year there were 26 MLB players who have hit 40 or more homers in a big league season at some point in their lives. Only 1 (Ryan Howard) ever had a 40 homer minor league season. Only 6 ever had a 30 homer minor league season. In all cases I'm looking at combined stat lines.

The simple answer to why is that A) Players with that kind of power don't stay in the minors very long and B) they tend to develop the big power after they've already reached the big leagues.


Also, minor league seasons are shorter.
   90. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4363272)
I believe that the last guy hit 40 HR in the US affiliated minors in a season was Dallas McPherson, 2008 (in a big time hitters environment).
   91. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4363273)
I don't see any evidence that building a competitive team helps young players become better in the future. And fans will come out when/if the team starts winning so long as the team doesn't continually dick them over in a Marlins-esque fire sale cycle.
If your team is merely not good, instead of terrible, there's a chance you might actually be good. You're missing the extent of unpredictability in baseball results. Build a 70-win team, you have a good shot at building a 75-80 win club next year, and that 75-80 win club might win 86 unexpectedly and play some meaningful games. Trying to win some games matters because you might end up winning more than you expected.

I'm not saying that the Astros shouldn't make trades that will pay off in 2015. I'm saying they should actually fill their existing roster with players who aren't below replacement level. That the Astros are going the route of building an unimaginably bad roster for an unprecedentedly low payroll suggests strongly to me that Astros fans shouldn't be optimistic that 1993 is right around the corner. The 1991 Astros had some well-paid good players (Ken Caminiti and Mark Portugal most notably), and they added more in the following years. I doubt Crane has plans to make upgrades of that sort, given the ludicrous payroll he's looking at for 2013.
   92. Danny Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4363275)
The last guy to hit 40 HRs in the minors was Dallas McPherson in 2008. (Edit: Coke to DK)

If you include the playoffs, Carter hit 44 HR in 149 games in 2008.
   93. Bourbon Samurai Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4363278)
I don't think Astros fans will be disappointed once they get a chance to watch Chris Carter hit. He's a massive human being and he crushes the ball (although his game power has never quite matched up with his bp power...still when he gets a hold of one, holy smokes). He's got hitting skill as well. He hit .337 over a full season of AA. Truly atrocious fielder, so he's strictly a DH realistically, but he's got a good chance of being the Astros best hitter, and very fun to watch.


We were talking in an earlier thread about the 2009-2010 Nats, and how Adam Dunn is the greatest bad team player of all time. On a good team? "Oh, god, why didn't you catch that?" On a bad team? "We don't care about the terrifying defensive WAR numbers, we just want to see some dingers!"

The Astros could use a guy who is fun, and Carter seems like he can be that.
   94. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4363281)
The Astros could use a guy who is fun, and Carter seems like he can be that.

Dave Kingman on the 1984 A's. I was too young to know he was a dick.
   95. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4363358)
Put me down as an A's fan who is not a Josh Donaldson fan. I just don't think he's a good baseball player, having "figured it out" notwithstanding.
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4363366)
I'm not saying that the Astros shouldn't make trades that will pay off in 2015. I'm saying they should actually fill their existing roster with players who aren't below replacement level. That the Astros are going the route of building an unimaginably bad roster for an unprecedentedly low payroll suggests strongly to me that Astros fans shouldn't be optimistic that 1993 is right around the corner.

Exactly. Selling off assets to build the farm is fine. But bring in some cheap FA talent to at least be respectable. That prevents fan interest/revenue from cratering, and puts you in a better position to afford good players when you get some.

You can get the #1 pick with 100 losses, you don't need to shoot for 120.
   97. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4363378)

You can get the #1 pick with 100 losses, you don't need to shoot for 120.


They're not going to lose 120. You have to try really hard to lose 120. The 2003 Tigers (who did not lose 120) had just one player accumulate 2 WAR or better (Dmitri Young). ZIPS projects four Astros to post a 2 WAR or better (Pena, Altuve, Dominguez, Norris) and newly acquired Chris Carter could do so as well if given playing time. They also have a few other young players that could breakthrough like Jordan Lyles and Alex White and maybe even Brett Wallace or Jason Castro. Justin Maxwell and Lucas Harrell were each 2 WAR players last year. The Astros are dirt cheap but they're not totally bereft of talent. They'll lose 100 easy, but 120 takes a special brand of sucking.

Adding free agents merely moves the ledger from 100 losses to 95 losses. Who cares?
   98. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4363387)
They're not going to lose 120. You have to try really hard to lose 120. The 2003 Tigers (who did not lose 120) had just one player accumulate 2 WAR or better (Dmitri Young). ZIPS projects four Astros to post a 2 WAR or better (Pena, Altuve, Dominguez, Norris) and newly acquired Chris Carter could do so as well if given playing time. They also have a few other young players that could breakthrough like Jordan Lyles and Alex White and maybe even Brett Wallace or Jason Castro. Justin Maxwell and Lucas Harrell were each 2 WAR players last year. The Astros are dirt cheap but they're not totally bereft of talent. They'll lose 100 easy, but 120 takes a special brand of sucking.

Adding free agents merely moves the ledger from 100 losses to 95 losses. Who cares?


They lost 107 last year, and seem to have subtracted more talent than they've added.

There's a big difference between a 90-loss team and a 110-loss team, and the Astros have enough gaping holes that they could add more than 5 wins by spending an extra $25M this year.
   99. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4363394)
Adding free agents merely moves the ledger from 100 losses to 95 losses. Who cares?
1) Free agents have value. If they're good, either you can sign them to stay, or trade them for prospects.
2) Once you get into the 75-win projection range, you have a chance at a good season because of the unpredictability of baseball results. Clubs should never plan on being truly terrible for more than a year or so, because being terrible means you can't luck into a good year.
3) Most importantly, the Astros have a roughly $15M payroll. They can easily afford some free agents to improve the roster without blocking any of even their fringey prospects. That they aren't doing it, again, suggests that this isn't about baseball, it's about Jim Crane squeezing profits out of a ballclub he bought mostly with debt.
   100. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4363398)
the Astros have enough gaping holes that they could add more than 5 wins by spending an extra $25M this year.
Also, this.
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