Red Sox come up short in Melancon deal 

December, 14, 2011

Jeff Luhnow's first move as general manager of the Houston Astros wasn't a huge one, but it's a great deal for them and shows just how badly the club was mismanaged under Ed Wade over the last few years.

Where Wade never seemed to get enough value in return for his tradeable assets -- how he sent half his roster to the Philadelphia Phillies without ever getting Domonic Brown is beyond me -- Luhnow converted a fungible, high-risk reliever in Mark Melancon into an everyday infielder in Jed Lowrie and a back-end starter/good reliever in Kyle Weiland.

Melancon had a violent delivery that already led to one Tommy John surgery, but has been healthy over the four years since then with a cleaner arm action that still requires a lot of upper-body effort. His success in 2011 was largely due to a new cutter that keeps hitters from squaring up on his very straight four-seamer; the pitchers' velocities are very close, with the four-seamer staying up while the cutter breaks down and slightly toward a left-handed hitter. Melancon's cutter has also helped him become a strong ground ball pitcher, but his below-average changeup led to a moderate platoon split last season, especially in terms of keeping left-handed hitters off base.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer