We've waited for the Astros to shed their cheapskate label and actually invest in some major league ballplayers. Finally, it has happened but they didn't sign anyone like superstar Robinson Cano. The division-rival Seattle Mariners did that. They didn't grab a top closer like Jim Johnson. The division-rival Oakland A's did that. They didn't add a slugger like Prince Fielder. The division-rival Texas Rangers of Arlington did that.
Oops! Wrong Feldman!
But Jim Crane and the front office did finally get off their collective Astros and pay some money for some legit big league talent. Welcome to Houston, Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman!
Fowler, a slender 6-4 center fielder was acquired from the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Brandon Barnes and pitcher Jordan Lyles. Fowler will turn 28 next spring and has batted in the .260 range in four of the past five seasons. The switch-hitting Georgian combines speed and power to bring a .788 career OPS to town but his intriguing potential never seems to translate into the breakout season Mile High fans expected. A long list of nagging injuries appears to be part of the problem.
Fowler is in the second year of a two-year contract and will make $7.35 million before his final year of arbitration. If he shows a higher level of play in 2014, it will be a good deal. If not, he's just an expensive placeholder for George Springer in center field.
Barnes batted .233 with nine homers in 179 games for the Astros and was perhaps more inspirational for his diving grabs in center. Lyles is the key to the deal. Just 23, he's already thrown 377 innings in the majors with an uninspiring 14-29 record and 5.35 ERA. The former first-rounder showed flashes of his outstanding potential but also is running out of options and pre-arbitration years so the Astros do not feel they risked much trading him.
To take Lyles' spot in the rotation, enter 30-year-old righthanded Hawaiian-born Feldman who was 12-12 last year with a 3.86 ERA splitting time between the Cubs and the Orioles after eight seasons with the Rangers. He agreed to a three-year deal worth $30 million on Friday.
The 6-7 hurler has a 51-56 career mark and a 4.62 ERA. His three-year average is 7-8 with a 4.32 ERA. I'll be interested to know why the decision scientists think he deserves such a contract.
More moves are expected next week from the Winter Meetings at DisneyWorld where it is rumored that Goofy could sign if Crane is willing to pony up the cash.
- Bob Hulsey