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Astros Release Nelson Figueroa And It's Not A Bad Thing

Nelson Figueroa took a lot of criticism coming out of spring training, as people nationally lost their minds that a bad team would knowingly start an old pitcher every fifth day. After all, they had young gun Jordan Lyles who pitched great  and could have taken that spot. They also had a lefty in Ryan Rowland-Smith who could have filled in, was younger and might have bounced back.

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Of course, hindsight is 20-20. Hyphen didn't pitch particularly well in Triple-A and Figueroa didn't pitch well in either the majors or the minors this season, so his release Thursday was not surprising in the least. What we shouldn't be talking about is whether Nelson Figueroa should have pitched this season, it's about the philosophy of this rebuilding team.

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At the time, we assumed that starting Figueroa was just another Drayton McLane, "Be A Champion" special. Figgy had performed well the season before in a very brief stint in the rotation and figured to be a better chance than some of the other lesser lights in contention. The Astros would not have gotten better by starting Fernando Abad in his place. They would not have gotten better by plugging in Hyphen, nor would they have improved by letting Lyles break camp with the team. 

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If Houston made a mistake, it was going with an old player in this situation. If Figueroa had been 27 instead of 37, it would have been a fine move. Plucking a guy off waivers, paying him very minimal money and getting innings out of him at the big league level is exactly what a rebuilding team should be doing. If the Astros made a mistake, it was in plucking Figueroa over Luke Harrell. But, if there were no Luke Harrell's available, was taking and using Figueroa that big a deal?

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Criticize Ed Wade for a lot of things, but I'm not sure Figueroa should be one of them.

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.