With your guess being as good as mine for the makeup of the Houston Astros’ starting rotation in 2012, Brett Myers has one of the few pitching positions locked in as the closer for this season.

If the Astros were smart, however, they would rethink their decision on Myers’ role.

Let’s be honest for a moment. The Astros will not only be hanging out towards the bottom of the NL Central this September, but more than likely the entire National League. In the midst of a full scale rebuilding of the roster, not much is expected of this team. Full of youth and hopefully a promising future, pundits will not exactly be calling for anyone’s head this season if the team does not produce.

I’ve read projections from various sources saying this team will finish with about 100 losses in a best case scenario, with more pessimistic sources projecting as many as 120.

For the following reasons, I believe that Myers is a better asset to the team as a starter rather than a closer, and that such a role would also benefit him in the long run.

In 2011, during the worst season in franchise history, the Astros’ bullpen accumulated a total of 25 saves. Keep in mind that a number of these saves came despite the contributions of offensive talents such as Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee.

Lee, who drove in 94 runs last year, will not duplicate that performance in 2012. While he is still the best bat in the lineup, he will not have the benefit of speed guys such as Pence and Bourn (both of whom were traded last season) getting on base and rounding the diamond in front of him in 2012.

This team is substantially less talented on the offensive side this year, and run production (the Astros scored 615 runs and allowed 796 runs last season) will drop significantly even from the woeful production of 2011.

Less runs scored means less leads late in ballgames. Less leads means less save opportunities and less save opportunities successfully converted.

I’m not saying that moving Myers to the starting rotation is going to fix any of these problems. As a starter rather than a reliever, here is how Myers could benefit the team.

He will be on display. Teams will be able to see what Myers brings to the table, and more importantly, decide what they would be willing to give up to bring him to their roster.

If Myers were a starter, he could log anywhere between 55 to 90 innings during the first half of the season. As a reliever, you could see him in as little as 15 to 20 innings before the July 31st trade deadline.

As detailed above, the Astros are not in a position to win in 2012. Wouldn’t it make more sense to display the veteran talents of your roster as frequently as possible in hopes of a proposed trade to acquire more prospects for the future?

Myers could be a fifth starter for a solid playoff rotation, and he could become the third or fourth starter for a team lacking depth but having a solid lineup. As a reliever, Myers has a 3.41 ERA in 58 career appearances. As a starter, he has a 4.27 ERA in 249 career starts.

If I were the GM of a team preparing for a playoff push, what sounds more valuable? A guy with a mediocre ERA in the bullpen? Or a guy who could approach the 200 IP mark as a starter and preserve the health of a bullpen?

Let’s face facts, folks. When the Astros becomes competitive, Myers will not be a member of the roster. If the Astros were smart, they would display his talents while they were still valuable as a starter and get as much for him on the trade market as they possibly could.

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