So the Astros have added Jerome Williams to the pitching equation.
What exactly are the Astros getting in the pitcher who started 25 games for the Angels last season? Obviously, Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter believe they’re getting a pitcher with knowledge of the AL West hitters who can bring some veteran leadership to the pitching staff.
If he sticks, it could have a ripple effect on the 12-man staff that breaks from camp next month (yes, next month!).
Either way, he’s not likely to be an All Star pitcher, he won’t have tons of Ks and he won’t dominate on the mound. He could, however, be a contributor, but he could also take innings from younger pitchers.
Consider this: The Astros consider the risk minimal enough that they gave Williams a major league deal, which increases the likelihood he’s on the roster opening day.
And this: We still don’t know the full value the Astros have placed on Williams. Should hear details on the contract soon, but he earned $2 million in Anaheim last year and the Angels balked at increasing his salary to approximately $3.9 million in arbitration in 2014.
Already, the bullpen is beginning to back up with Chad Qualls, Matt Albers and Jesse Crain, although Crain may not be ready to start the season. Still, with Josh Fielders, Chia-Jen Lo, Josh Zeid and others vying for position, the bullpen is not only improved over 2013, but already crowded.
NOTE: Check in early Wednesday for Dan Peschong’s complete rundown on the Astros’ bullpen for 2014.
The Astros project Williams as a starter, but worse case scenario, he’s a swing man a la Danny Darwin, though perhaps not as effective.
If the 32-year-old does start, it’s not good news for Lucas Harrell or perhaps Dallas Keuchel or others. However, Keuchel is younger and has options. While inexpensive and still under team control, Harrell is out of options and has had somewhat of a rocky relationship since Luhnow joined the organization.
Still, more immediate, the Astros will need to clear a roster spot before they add Williams to the 40-man on Wednesday. While there is definitely some chaff, that move is not as obvious as it may have been this time last year. With the off season additions of players like Jonathan Singleton, Jesus Guzman, Asher Wojciechowski, Domingo Santana along with the aforementioned free agents, each move to outright, release or DFA becomes more of a challenge.
Who should go?
Could be the Astros are working on a trade that would clear a spot. More likely, though, Luhnow will take the road of one of the other options.
- Does the Williams signing make sense?
- Who is most in danger, either in the rotation or the bullpen?
- Will Williams finish the season in Houston?
- With spring training just days away, project the Astros’ rotation on April 1.