Houston Astros Sign 1B and 'Moneyball' Character Carlos Pena to Be Their DH

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IDecember 17, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 31: Carlos Pena #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a single in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 31, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are moving to the American League in 2013 and needed a designated hitter. Today they signed one. According to Richard Dean of MLB.com, Carlos Pena will fill the role after signing a one-year deal with Houston.

The well traveled 12-year veteran will be playing for his seventh big league team when he takes the field at Minute Maid Park.

He will be 35 years old, and his numbers have been dropping. His batting average has been under .200 in two of the last three years and his once-robust OPS dropped below .700 last year with the Tampa Bay Rays.

But he still has power and is still a steady veteran on a team with very few players under 30.

Pena's best seasons were in Tampa Bay. He smacked 46 homers and posted a 1.037 OPS in 2007, the final year of the Devil Rays. The next year he crushed 31 homers for the American League champion Rays. Along the way, he hit three homers and drove in six runs as the Rays defeated the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.

He led the American League with 39 home runs in 2009.

But despite Pena's home runs, his All-Star appearance, his Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle notes that he is best known as being a character in the Oscar-nominated movie Moneyball.

In the movie, manager Art Howe favors Pena over Billy Beane's pet project, Scott Hatteberg. Hatteberg may have walked more, but Pena is still in the majors.

The Astros hope they will play a little Moneyball themselves and squeeze some power out of Pena's bat for an affordable price.