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Astros: Graveman for Lee- Good Trade?

The Astros traded Korey Lee for Kendall Graveman today.

This will be part one of a two-part series:

  • Analyze the Trade

  • Answer how Graveman could be better- "How to improve Kendall Graveman"

Let's answer the question - Was the Astros trade of Korey Lee for Kendall Graveman a good trade?

What does the website indicate?

Graveman Trade

The prices being paid in the trade market are excessive. This is considered a MAJOR OVERPAY. I am really perplexed that this is the COMPLETE trade.

Let's look at Graveman since you last saw him.

Graveman Stats

I want you to understand what we are getting. The media is going to fill you up with spin from the Astros. I am going to share THESE numbers relative to the Astros bullpen.

  • 3.48 ERA- fifth behind Neris, Abreu, Maton, Pressly- Win

  • Only ONE appearance over 3 outs- 1.0 IP- Loss

  • RHP - platoon splits- Loss

  • 4,85 FIP- seventh and ONLY better than Montero- LOSS

  • 0.239 BABIP- oh oh- he has been lucky as HELL - Only Neris has a BABIP this low- LOSS

  • Negative -0.1 WAR because Montero needed a negative WAR buddy in the bullpen?- HUGE LOSS

  • 1.23 HR/9- Only Montero is worse- Loss

  • 39.8% GB rate- Yes, that will be great in MMP- Loss- If you are going to have a low GB rate you must have a K/9 a LOT higher than 8.59.

Well, that sucked. Was this Jim Crane's idea?

Crane: "Hey why don't we get Graveman back? The White Sox are selling everyone. I liked that guy." (I am projecting.)

My view is that the Astros traded for another Ryne Stanek/ Rafael Montero. But wait, I have more.

Your view on Kendall Graveman will largely depend on whether you trust peripheral stats or not. I do. Of course, I am the guy that all of the ESPN 97.5 listeners love to make fun of about xwOBA. I remember the last two GMs that paid attention to xwOBA until their owner demanded all of those fancy stats be ignored in the offseason,

Graveman wOBA xwOBA

So which version of the LHH stats do you believe? One is great. The other is bad.

Graveman platoon

Let's look at the 2021 and 2022 data. The Graveman I remember in 2021 was the one that was not good vs. LHH.

Folks, the xwOBA data here is more predictive of the future results. Graveman has been VERY lucky in 2023 or his 3.48 ERA would look much more like his 4.85 FIP.

So, we are getting Graveman for the Post Season right. Am I the ONLY one that remembers this?

I have had Dana Brown's back since he got here. THIS was not the right move.

Now let's talk about trading Korey Lee away. I am not surprised Lee was traded. I am frustrated that IF we were going to trade Korey Lee we waited until his trade value all but evaporated.

I am frustrated that WE don't know what the Astros are trading. Let me repeat what I said on Twitter.

One of the failures of 2023 will be that we wasted time with a 36-year-old defensive disaster catcher while we had a 24-year-old MLB ready catcher that sat in AAA all year.

Now, was Korey Lee truly MLB ready? He sure looked it on 5/27/23 when his wRC+ was 96. I documented Korey Lee's progress to this point. He slumped after this and all expectations of seeing Lee this year were gone. Diaz proved he would be a viable MLB Catcher. On 5/29/23 Diaz was getting terrible playing time and 75 PA into his career he had a 47 wRC+. Since that date, Diaz has hit 131 wRC+. Korey Lee has been given a TOTAL of 26 PA. Whatever you THINK you know about Korey Lee as an MLB Catcher is based on a FAR too small sample size.

Truth is no one really knows what Korey Lee can be. If I had to guess today it would be that he is a career backup catcher with a great arm- think of Martin Maldonado without the fake hype,

Here is the other unfortunate truth for Korey Lee, however. Korey had what seemed like an epidemic of oblique strains and has not played since 7/3/23 in AAA. Since then, his 76 wRC+ in AAA does not look very good when one considers what the others have done.


Lee - 76 (302 PA)

Berryhill - 87 (224 PA)

Salazar - 89 (88 PA)

It is very possible that Lee was no longer the top prospect catcher in the eyes of the Astros. The Astros drafted highly regarded catchers in the draft too that may be ready in the next few years.

I ALWAYS felt like having Diaz AND Lee as the catching combination next year was a risk this team would not take. I expected a backup veteran catcher was likely to be signed. If Lee was not going to be with the Astros next year, then trading him made sense.

Well, there you have it. You can argue this deal made sense because Lee was not what we hoped he would be. I would say we waited too long to trade Lee if this front office thought he was not a future MLB player. The Astros are paying a premium cost for a marginal at best redundant RHRP that does not address their core bullpen need for a long man.

It feels like a loss for the Astros. I hope what I propose NEXT for Graveman makes him far better than he has been. Click here for "How to Improve Kendall Graveman." Trust me you will probably like Part 2 WAY MORE than Part 1.

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