Oscar Villarreal Rumors

Astros Designate Villarreal

The Astros designated reliever Oscar Villarreal for assignment today.  The 26 year-old posted a 5.02 ERA in 37.2 innings this year.  He’s been leaning more heavily on his breaking stuff this year, and the result has been fewer strikeouts, more walks, and a ridiculous number of home runs allowed (12).  Villarreal is signed through 2009.  He’ll either accept the assignment to Triple A or take a release/trade from the Astros. 

Check out Richard Justice’s blog for commentary on Ed Wade’s acquisition and signing of Villarreal.

Odds and Ends: Villarreal, Cano, Rowand

Alright let’s round ’em up.

  • This was one I was going to pass on posting, but it’s pretty dead right now.  The Astros signed newly acquired reliever Oscar Villarreal to a two-year deal.  He was already under team control through 2008.  The MLB.com article adds that Ed Wade’s interest in Livan Hernandez and Bartolo Colon is low, and talks with Jon Lieber pretty much died.
  • The Yankees pulled Robinson Cano out of Winter Ball.  The word is that he doesn’t want to aggravate a calf injury.  You could read into it and speculate he’s a part of trade talks.  Seems like a stretch though.  I believe the Yanks also pulled Melky Cabrera from Winter Ball; we know he’s in trade talks.
  • R.J. Anderson’s book about the Devil Rays and Chuck LaMar is now available for free download.
  • J.C. Bradbury says the Aaron Rowand signing is the best free agent signing of the offseason.  Personally, I don’t hate it.  I don’t like it too much either though.

Astros Acquire Oscar Villarreal For Josh Anderson

New GMs Frank Wren and Ed Wade struck a deal today.  The Braves sent middle reliever Oscar Villarreal over to the Astros for outfielder Josh Anderson.

It had been known that Wade was pursuing relief help.  He created a bit of a void by trading Brad Lidge, not that Villarreal fills that.  The ‘Stros currently have an offer out to Scott Linebrink, and have expressed interest in Jeremy Affeldt, Francisco Cordero, and Troy Percival as well.  Villarreal is not a closer type, so look for Wade to sign one of Linebrink, Cordero, or Percival to handle the ninth inning.  Chad Qualls would then take the eighth.

Villarreal has been a respectable reliever when healthy.  The 26 year-old righty has a 3.71 career ERA.  I imagine the Astros view him as their seventh inning guy.  Wade was able to part with Anderson because he has a better version in Michael Bourn.  Wade also oddly gave a Major League deal to a defensive-minded minor league free agent center fielder named Yordany Ramirez.  Quite a commitment.

The 25 year-old Anderson is a burner who doesn’t hit much.  Most view him as a future fourth outfielder.  I imagine the Braves acquired him to use a stopgap solution in center field for a year or two.

I’d give a slight edge to Wade here, as we’re going to see teams locking in relievers similar to Villarreal for three years and $10MM+.

Braves Deal Estrada For Cormier And Villarreal

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports continues to scoop the vast majority of trades going on at the Winter Meetings.  This time, he's telling us that the Braves sent Johnny Estrada to the Diamondbacks for Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.

The Braves were dealing from a position of strength since Brian McCann is more than ready to take over full-time catching duty.  The 21 year-old skipped Triple A and held up nicely in 180 Major League at-bats this year.  He's not the defensive catcher that Estrada is, but he's not bad with the glove.  Estrada won a Silver Slugger award for catchers and was named to the All-Star team after his 2004, but is unlikely to approach that level offensively again.

Lance Cormier is a 25 year-old right-handed reliever.  He's been lousy through 124 Major League innings – 6.21 ERA, lots of homers, weak strikeout rate, and tons of baserunners allowed.  He showed potential with a nice run at Triple A Tucson in 2004.

Born in Mexico, Oscar Villarreal is a 24 year-old righty reliever.  Despite high walk totals, Villarreal had a spectacular 2003 in relief for the Diamondbacks, pitching 98 innings of 2.57 ERA ball.  He'll be representing Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March if the Braves allow it.  Villarreal has suffered some major injuries in his career, undergoing nerve transposition surgery in his arm as well as suffering through rotator cuff problems and a strained hip flexor.

It'd be a stretch to say that this deal improves the Braves' bullpen, especially without Leo Mazzone there to work his magic on the two relievers.