December 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM
|Jed Lowrie (Kelly O'Connor)|
Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Red Sox have traded Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Astros for RHP Mark Melancon.
Melancon was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 9th round of the 2006 Draft. He put up very good numbers in his minor league career and he was eventually traded to the Astros as part of the deal that brought Lance Berkman to New York in 2010. Melancon has three above-average pitches with his fastball, cutter, and curveball, and he has good command of all three pitches. In 2011 he pitched 74.1 innings with a 2.78 ERA, 66 strikeouts, and 26 walks, and was 20 for 25 in save opportunities. He forces a lot of groundballs, and his excellent groundball to fly ball ratio makes him well suited for Fenway Park. The status of the Red Sox bullpen is still up in the air, and Melancon's role has yet to be determined. Whether Daniel Bard is the closer, or if a free-agent like Ryan Madson is signed remains to be seen, but this move provides depth to the back-end of the bullpen.
Lowrie had a promising future with the Red Sox, but injuries and inconsistent play made him expendable. Lowrie was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2005 Draft out of Stanford with the compensation pick for losing Orlando Cabrera. He got off to a great start in Lowell putting up an OPS of .887 in 53 games. Lowrie spent all of 2006 in High-A Wilmington, where he had a disappointing season. An ankle injury in May limited his production and he finished the year playing in 97 games with a .726 OPS. He bounced back in a big way in Portland in 2007, batting .297 with a .410 on-base percentage and .501 slugging percentage. Those numbers, combined with his average defense at shortstop, made him a top prospect. He was ranked fifth on the SoxProspects rankings at the end of 2007.
2008 saw Lowrie get his first taste of the majors as injuries to Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo made the Red Sox call up the versatile infielder. Lowrie played 134 games between Boston and Pawtucket in 2008, which is by far the most in his career. The most games he has played in a season since 2008 was 93 this year. From 2008 to 2010, Lowrie bounced back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket. He put up great numbers after the All-Star break for Boston in 2010, and that earned him a spot on the Red Sox to start 2011. While he was the starting shortstop over Marco Scutaro in the beginning of 2011, a shoulder injury forced Lowrie to miss time in June, and Scutaro produced well in his absence. The Red Sox are set to go into 2012 with Scutaro as the starting shortstop and use Mike Aviles as the utility man. Long-term, Lowrie was blocked in Boston by Jose Iglesias, and becasue Lowrie was going into his first year of arbitration eligibility, he was going to start getting more expensive.
Weiland was drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Notre Dame. It seemed like a reach at the time because Weiland had an ERA over 5.00 in both his sophomore and junior years of college. The Red Sox saw a projectable arm with limited mileage who they could convert into a middle of the rotation starter. Weiland went to Lowell after he signed in 2008 and put up dominating numbers with a 1.50 ERA in 60.0 innings pitched with 10 walks and 68 strikeouts. He went straight to High-A Salem in 2009 where he spent the entire year. He put up good strikeout numbers, but showed iffy command, walking 57 in 132.2 innings pitched. The 2010 season was up and down for Weiland. He started off in Portland where the jump to Double-A proved to be a difficult one. In April, he had a 9.00 ERA in 14.0 innings. He bounced back to have a great May and June before struggling again in July and August. He ended the season with 128.1 innings pitched, a 4.42 ERA, and a 120/49 K/BB ratio.
2011 looked to be a breakout year for Weiland as he put up great numbers from April to June. He kept his strikeout rate up while lowering his walk rate. This performance caused him to jump in the SoxProspects rankings, and on June 17th, he was the eighth ranked prospect on the site. The Red Sox noticed his improvement and called him up to bolster the major league rotation which was troubled by injuries and poor performance. Unfortunately, Weiland could not do much to stop the bleeding and his final line of 24.2 innings pitched with a 7.66 ERA and a 13/12 K/BB ratio was one of many poor pitching performances the Red Sox saw down the stretch. This trade offers a great opportunity for Weiland. He was going to begin the year in Triple-A, but now he has a chance to make the Astros rotation out of spring training. His delivery and average control probably make Weiland destined for the bullpen, but moving out of the AL East makes him more likely to stick in the back-end of a rotation.