By Michael N
Editor’s note – This article originally appeared on AstrosConnection.com on December 15, 1999.
The 15th day of December 1999. Mark it down, Astro fans, as a day that may tell the fortunes of this baseball team for many years to come and confirms fiscal sanity is more important to Drayton McLane than fielding the best team possible. NTTAWWT.
Carl Everett (aka C4 and Demolition Man), a player Houston acquired in a relatively quiet deal for relief pitcher John Hudek in the 1997 off-season, finally harnessed his considerable talents during 1999 and was arguably the Astro MVP. You all know his numbers from this past season and I dare say the Astros have not seen this kind of performance from a center fielder since the days of Cesar Cedeno. Plus, the guy is only 28 years old! Thank goodness a guy of Everett’s caliber will patrol the vast expanses of the EFUS for years, right?
Wrong. Skyrocketing payroll projections for 2000 and beyond dictated Gerry the Hun must deal from existing fat in the lineup (Moises Alou, Derek Bell) or those expected to earn considerable raises after this upcoming season (Mike Hampton, Everett). Since no GM in his right mind would be willing to take Alou or Bell, given their respective baggage, C4 was traded today to the Boston Red Sox for AA shortstop Adam Everett and mid-A LHP Greg Miller.
Putting aside questions of whether these guys are fair value for a guy like C4, what can be expected from these two kids Houston just got?
More is known about Adam Everett that Miller, so I will just reiterate what has already been said. Everett is a fantastic glove man. Very smooth, very soft hands and a plus throwing arm. By almost all accounts, he can play as a defensive SS on the major league level today. Whoopee, you say, we already have a no-hit SS in Timmy Bogar! But there is reason to project Everett as a pretty good hitting SS when he matures physically. He’s still pretty darn skinny, yet has displayed some pop in his bat. Combine some muscle with his already steady eye and short stroke, Everett has the potential to be a better than average offensive shortstop. Did I mention the former 1st round pick also has above average speed on the bases and excellent baserunning instincts?
Someone has asked me where I might put Everett on the Top 10 list already compiled of Astro prospects and I told him Everett would be at #4 behind Lance Berkman, Wilfredo Rodriguez and Wade Miller. I expect Everett, Berkman and W. Miller to be regulars in Houston by 2001.
Now, what is the deal with this pitcher no one has heard of? I’d like to throw some numbers at you for comparison sake:
Pitcher A: 11-5 W-L, 27 GS, 165.0 IP, 122 H, 62 BB, 170 K, 3.05 ERA Pitcher B: 10-6 W-L, 25 GS, 136.2 IP. 109 H, 56 BB, 146 K, 3.10 ERA
You might have had the same reaction as I when you read this comparison. Incredibly similar and very nice numbers, but not eye-popping. Well, they become so when you realize 19-year olds Wilfredo Rodriguez (Pitcher A) and Greg Miller (Pitcher B) posted them while at mid-A ball. Both young men were playing at an advanced level for their age and handled the competition very well.
Greg Miller is a big lefty (6’5″, 215), drafted in the 5th round in ’97, whose fastball is clocked in the low-90s. He also features a nice curve and straight change. I’ve talked to two scouts who like his demeanor on the mound and love his easy, natural throwing motion. So, with that size and his sound mechanics, there stands a good chance this kid could end up throwing in the mid-90s in the foreseeable future. Everything I hear about Miller has stud written all over it. But let’s remember he was only in mid-A ball last year. It is likely he will spend the next 3 years, at least, in the minors honing his craft. Guys who possess this kind of overall package, at this age, are hard to come by and I am pleased Houston was able to pry Miller from the Red Sox in this deal.
In summation, I absolutely hate the financial realities that forced this deal. Having C4 in center was the anchor of the outfield heading into the 2000 season, and trading him rightly leaves Hun open to questions regarding the Astro outfield. However, since what is done is done, Houston seems to have gotten in return two very high ceiling prospects for a player that likely would have only spent one more season in an Astro uni. Welcome to baseball by checkbook balance. We may as well get used to it and hope like hell the Astro scouting department has hit a couple of homers.
A fond farewell to you, C4, thanks for the memories and the quotes. Best of luck in New England and stay away from those leech-like Yankee Doodle reporters.