The Astros get better by signing quality reliever Smith

Joe Smith should be an upgrade over Luke Gregerson. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The MLB winter meetings are in full swing, and yesterday brought some good news for Astros fans. The team went out and did exactly what they needed to do, they got better in the bullpen. They signed free agent Joe Smith to a two-year deal.

The 33 year-old right-hander has bounced around a bit in the majors but he's been consistently good (not great, but very good) for his career.  In 10 seasons he has a career 2.97 era, a solid 1.185 WHIP, is striking out 7.9 batters per 9 innings. Last year between Toronto and Cleveland he put up a 3.33 era and a 1.037 whip. He's a side-arm pitcher that can be down right filthy versus right handed batters.

But let's be clear, Joe Smith isn't a closer. There was a year where he picked up 15 saves, but that's not his role, and never really has been. He's a quality arm that provides depth to a bullpen that badly needed it. He will most likely be the 7th or 8th inning guy. He's also know as a very good high leverage arm, so you might see him a bit earlier if there is more on the line in game situations.. 

So are the Astros really better because of this? 

You bet. When you think about it in terms of arms in the pen, the Astros swapped out Luke Gregerson (signed with the Cardinals) for Smith. It's crazy (and exciting) to think that the team that won the World Series last year just got a little bit better.

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This week on episode 7 of Stone Cold 'Stros, Charlie Pallilo, Josh Jordan, and Brandon Strange bring you the latest updates from Astros FanFest. They discuss the latest from the Astros regarding Yuli Gurriel, Dusty Baker and Jeff Bagwell have different opinions on Michael Brantley's return, the front-runner who has emerged in the Astros GM search, and react to Bob Nightengale speaking truth to power regarding Carlos Beltran and the Houston Astros. All this and more on this week's episode!

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