Houston Astros Trade Deadline Long-Term Value Assessment: The Bullpen (Part 2)

By Connor Nielen

(continued from Part 1)

  • Jeff Fulchino — LTV: 50

Current Performance: 8 / 20          Potential / Future Performance: 13 / 25

Age: 9 / 15          Contract Value: 9 / 15

Fan Attachment: 5 / 10          Intangibles: 6 / 15

Analysis: ‘The pride of Hollis, New Hampshire’, Fulchino has not given his hometown faithful much to be proud of in 2011. A late bloomer, already 31 years of age, ‘Fulch’ is allowing over a hit per inning, has been tagged for 3 losses (including the infamous Brian McCann walk-off in Atlanta) and just doesn’t look like a major-league caliber reliever.

His most endearing asset might be his fantastic beard, one that gives some character to an otherwise lifeless roster on the pitching side of things.

A strong 2009 made a bit of a name for Fulchino, meaning there may be GM’s willing to acquire him in the form of veteran depth for a pennant run, but that remains to be seen. Having struggled to flourish in Houston, he doesn’t offer a lot of long-term value, but he is arbitration-eligible this Winter, so the team can keep him around if they choose to.

  • Wilton Lopez — LTV: 75

Current Performance: 16 / 20          Potential / Future Performance: 20 / 25

Age: 12 / 15          Contract Value: 10 / 15

Fan Attachment: 7 / 10          Intangibles:10 / 15

Analysis: The 27-year old Nicaraguan was featured heavily on the site in the Spring and came into the season with big-time expectations as an elite MLB set-up man. While he hasn’t been as good as last year, he’s still been pretty effective.

Lopez needs a contract extension, but other than that should be with the Astros for many more years to come. It’s only his second full big-league season, so the potential for improvement exists as he learns what it takes to be a successful game-holder.

Were he to be made available at the deadline, there would no doubt be a bevy of interest across the board. While he’s nowhere near untouchable, the Astros do not have many quality long-term relief options and should be extremely hesitant to consider moving this guy.

  • Mark Melancon — LTV: 79

Current Performance: 17 / 20          Potential / Future Performance: 21 / 25

Age: 12 / 15          Contract Value: 10 / 15

Fan Attachment: 8 / 10          Intangibles:11 / 15

Analysis: The greatest benefit from the demise of Brandon Lyon (who incidentally is not even being included on this list after under-going season-ending surgery last week) is undoubtedly the emergence of Melancon as the team’s 9th-inning stopper this year.

Picked up from the Yankees for Lance Berkman one year ago, Melancon has not been given many actual save opportunities thanks to his team’s futility, but has pitched extremely well nonetheless. He has 5 wins, 6 saves, an ERA just above 3, and a K/9 approaching 8.

Like Lopez, Melancon needs to be locked up contractually, but the Astros should have no problem finding some room on the payroll for their shut-down guy, who figures to be a definite long-term component of the organization as it attempts to climb back to respectability.

— Astros Relief Pitcher Rankings for Long-Term Value —

  • Mark Melancon – 79
  • Wilton Lopez – 75
  • Sergio Escalona – 69
  • Enerio Del Rosario – 54
  • Jeff Fulchino – 50
  • Fernando Abad – 45

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