After watching former Astro, LaTroy Hawkins received $7.5 million dollars from the Brewers, Ed Wade did the unthinkable and handed DOUBLE that to Brandon Lyon on a three-year deal. I don't want to beat up on Brandon Lyon here because it's not his fault that Wade saw a 2.86 ERA in 2009, and said "that's the guy I want to pay $5 million dollars annually until 2012."
Lyon is your average run of the mill relief pitcher. He's seen better days in the past, and has moonlighted as a closer every so often, however, overall he's pretty mediocre. With a career ERA of 4.20 and a near matching FIP of 4.23, you could easily find similar talent wasting away in Triple-A somewhere (Winston Abreu, R.J.?).
Lyon is pretty consistent, and will give you 60+ innings out of the bullpen; that's about the most positive thing I can say about that. His strikeout rates aren't impressive and he walked 3.5 batters per nine in 2009. His sexy ERA is clearly due to a lower than normal BABIP (.229) and a higher than normal for him LOB% (80.1). He did earn a decent 0.7 WAR last season, but 57 other relief pitchers earned at least that last season (min 50 relief innings).
Signing Lyon isn't a bad move. Had this been a two-year deal worth something like $2-3 million dollars, nobody would've had a big problem with that. But that would've been too normal.
The Astros also acquired Matt Lindstrom, who along with Lyon will essentially replace Hawkins and Jose Valverde at the back end of the bullpen. Unlike the Lyon deal, I actually like the acquisition of Lindstrom. With the Rays being one of the rumored places for him before the trade, I brushed on some of his history and I can see why teams would take a chance on him.
30 in February, Lindstrom has the velocity scouts swoon over. However, that hasn't turned into the strikeout rates one would expect. His 7.55 career K/9 is not that impressive and he has walked over four batters per nine in each of the last two seasons. His ERA of 5.89 is inflated by a .342 BABIP, but his career FIP of 4.22 suggests that he is pretty much Brandon Lyon for less.
Being arbitration eligible meant that he was getting too rich for the Marlins blood and instead of non-tendering him, they simply passed him off to Houston for two non-descript prospects. Lindstrom's HR/FB jumped to 9.3% in 2009 after keeping it under 3% for two seasons. I guess it was just regression making up for lost time. A ground-ball pitcher, I would guess his rates would settle in the 6-8% range, but pitching in Houston isn't going to help that much. Again, Lindstrom isn't anything special, but his ERA should keep him from being too expensive in arbitration.
I guess our pal Ed Wade is allergic to making two good deals in a week as he took whatever good will gained in acquiring Lindstrom and threw that away in another head scratching signing. It's no secret that the Astros had a black hole at third base, but that's been the case for a few years now. Passing the duties from one utility man to another for the past few seasons, Wade seemingly put a stop to that and got his man.
Thanks to a one-year, $4.5 million dollar deal, the Astros third base problem will be solved by Pedro Feliz. Yes, the same Pedro Feliz who hit .266/.308/.386 in 625 PAs last season. In fact, he has not posted a wOBA over .307 in any of the last five seasons. Sadly, that shouldn't be a surprise since his career wOBA is .306.
Feliz has made a nice living from having an above-average glove at third base, but his bat is terrible. Not to mention, he'll be 35 years-old soon after opening day 2010. Did I mention that Happy Pete also has a career .288 OBP against RHP which just happens to cover like 65% of the league?
Some where Melvin Mora and his 89 kids are hoping that there's one more Ed Wade Christmas miracle to be had this winter.