Question: If a team in danger of losing 100 games for the second straight season makes the conscious decision to stick one of its most consistent starters in the bullpen, does it really qualify as a foolish decision?
We're about to have that debate with the Houston Astros, who made a surprise announcement on Tuesday morning that Brett Myers will be the team's closer in 2012.
On one hand, it's a victimless crime. Expectations aren't that high with the Astros so what difference does it make if Myers is being put in a position to close for the first time since he saved 21 games for the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies? New GM Jeff Luhnow thinks he has a surplus of rotation candidates, so it's a risk the Astros think they can afford to take.
On the other, Myers is a guy that has thrown well over 200 innings for Houston the past two seasons and it's hard to replace those kind of innings, no matter if you think you have a decent number of potential candidates including Livan Hernandez and Zach Duke.
For his part, Myers tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart he's eager to do whatever he's asked.
"I wouldn't accept it if I didn't think I could do it, but it's going to be a challenge for me because it's something different," he said. "It's like a position change for me. It's like taking a first baseman and moving him to third. I'm going to have to work a little harder to get my arm in shape to throw 20 or 25 pitches a night. Hopefully, it will be good for the team and good for the organization."
Myers will turn 32 in August and perhaps he's looking toward a future of relieving as a way to draw some more paychecks over the coming years. That'll be good for him, but it's hard to see how this would be "good for the team and good for the organization." With Myers possibly set to become a free agent after this season — he does have a vesting option for 2013 that's worth $10 million if he finishes a certain amount of games — you'd think he would command more around the deadline if he were a starter rather than a reliever and the Astros decided to trade him.
But it looks like GM Jeff Luhnow has a plan and that includes Myers filling the hole that Mark Melancon left after he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps the team knows something about Myers' arm that we don't, but for now it seems silly to pass up the cheap innings that the right-hander so readily provided.