On Myers closing, and putting cookies on the top of your head. (The topics are unrelated.)
The main topic of conversation this week undoubtedly has centered around the small bombshell Brad Mills dropped a few days ago, when he informed us that Brett Myers has been anointed the Astros’ closer for 2012.
This sparked a variety of responses from the fans. Some of you think this was a good decision. Some of you think it’s an incredibly dumb decision. Others (but not many) are willing to weigh the arguments from all sides before forming an opinion.
I’m on the fence on this, leaning on the side of liking it. I’d describe myself as neutrally interested. I’m intrigued by what this can do for a team that blew 25 saves last year — most of which occurred in the first half of the season — and then in the offseason traded Mark Melancon, who had quite a bit of success in the closer’s role after taking it over midway through.
Myers has closed before, so he has experience there — a pro. A con? Much of the damage teams did against him last year occurred in the first inning. So, it’s risky to put him in a role where he now will work in only one-inning increments.
Still, Myers has a ferocious approach when he’s on the mound and he’s not scared to challenge hitters. He also has a nice track record overall in the big leagues. He may thrive in this role.
Even if he does, the Astros still have to figure out where they’re going to get the 200 innings that need to now be absorbed by another starting pitcher. Do the Astros have enough depth to overcome that? Perhaps. Or, perhaps not. That’s why for now I’m neutrally interested by Myers moving to the ‘pen and intrigued to see where this goes.
I do know a couple of things for sure. One, I am all for this team thinking outside of the box and trying something different. A few years ago, when the Astros had the oldest team in baseball, one of the highest payrolls and one of the worst records, an outfielder from another team — one of those somewhat troubled, needing-a-change-of-scenery types who still appeared to have something left in the tank — was designated for assignment.
I said to a member of the Astros’ support staff, “I’d take a chance on him.” This person looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Where are you going to put him in our outfield?”
Pondering the Astros’ place in the standings — 20-some games out of first place and having not come near .500 since they were 0-1 after playing on Opening Day — I asked, “What is it about the configuration of this team are you so attached to?”
Maybe, just maybe, it was time to try something else.
Another argument: The Astros lost 28 games last year by one run and 22 games by two runs and blew half of their save opportunities. Having so many things go wrong so late in the game inevitably deflates a team, and that takes a toll while attempting to stay mentally strong over the course of a six-month season.
In that respect, putting a veteran who has experience closing in that role might be beneficial.
The Astros are coming off a 106-loss season. They acquired a bunch of talented players in the last two years in blockbuster trades that sent a handful of stars elsewhere. They’re willing to see what some of them can do on the big league level. Time will tell if moving Myers out of the rotation was a good idea, but really, why not give it a try?
The ballpark entertainment staff is introducing a new feature this year, called “Stros versus Joes.” Players are currently being filmed doing a number of wacky exercises, and eventually, thanks to the magic of video, these taped vignettes will turn into games with fans, where they will compete against each other in between innings at Astros game this season.
Among the “Stros versus Joes” activities: miniature golf, word association, and my personal favorite, the old “Put a Cookie on the Top of Your Head and Shake It Until It Lands in Your Mouth” trick.
Yes, really. Watch and prepare to be amazed (featured players, in order: J.B. Shuck, Jordan Schafer, J.D. Martinez):