Melancon Shipped Up To Boston

By Connor Nielen

New Houston GM Jeff Luhnow got down to business on Wednesday afternoon and made his first significant move since last week’s hiring. The former Cardinals front-office member acquired short-stop Jed Lowrie from the Boston Red Sox, seemingly filling a pressing hole in the Astros line-up as the team prepares for the 2012 season. In acquiring the versatile Lowrie (as well as young right-handed pitcher Kyle Weiland), Luhnow was forced to part with Mark Melancon, the organization’s most recent closer.

It is unknown at this point whether Melancon will inherit the vacant Red Sox closing role left by Jonathan Papelbon’s departure, or if he will settle into something of a set-up role. Because young flame-thrower Daniel Bard is expected to make transition into a starter this Spring, one would conclude that an additional transaction would be required (perhaps through signing Ryan Madson or trading for Andrew Bailey – both distinct possibilities) for Melancon to not find himself as the new 9th-inning man at Fenway Park.

Melancon’s 20 saves in 2011 show he is capable of closing games if that is indeed the case. My support of Melancon’s efforts throughout last season is most evident here, here, and here.

As an admitted lifelong Red Sox fan, I am rather familiar with Lowrie. He has shown flashes of brilliance over the course of the past few seasons, but regularly struggled to shake off the injury bug. Assuming he manages to find good health and be given consistent at-bats, I see plenty of opportunity for the 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year to achieve a tremendous amount of success with the Astros.

Weiland becomes yet another candidate to compete to earn a spot in Houston’s rotation joining the likes of Henry Sosa, Lucas Harrell, and whoever else. You have to anticipate that a trade to dispose of either Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers, if not both, is on the way to clear the starting pitching logjam a little bit. Any takers?

I think this move between Boston and Houston is a very logical swap given both teams’ needs and believe it is one that each franchise will ultimately benefit from.

Follow me on Twitter! — @ConnorNielen

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