The Astros need a starter, not a closer (yet)

So far, so good at the winter meetings for the Astros. Jose Valverde’s decision not to go to arbitration should yield a nice benefit in draft choices. If LaTroy Hawkins can be had for a fair price, $4 million or so, that would be fine. If not, honestly, the Astros can probably find a few hard throwers for the bullpen. The Cardinals got some nice work out of Wayne Franklin last year.
Fangraphs gives Valverde a win-probability-added of 1.6 wins for last year. I’m not wild about the methodology there because if a batter makes an out, all the win probability goes into the pitcher’s column. Strikeout, groundout, home-run saving catch, whatever. In Valverde’s case, let’s just go ahead and accept the figure, though. Because even if he were worth three victories, those are three victories the Astros don’t need right now.
The Astros’ problem last year wasn’t losing games in the ninth inning. It was losing games in the first inning. After one inning last year, the Astros led in 35 games and trailed in 49, according to (You have to subscribe to see it.) They were tied in 78 games. Assuming they split those 78, and the Astros would have a record of 74-88.
The Astros in fact had a record of 74-88. A closer can’t help you in the first inning. For that you need starting pitching and a little more on-base punch to help Michael Bourn. Once you have that, you can worry about your closer.

via Sports on 12/8/09

With Jose Valverde no longer a pressing concern, the Astros resumed negotiations with LaTroy Hawkins on Tuesday while also becoming pessimistic about re-signing Miguel Tejada.


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