Blog Entry

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 10:36 am
 
Rodriguez
By Evan Brunell

The Houston Astros are in a bit of a sticky situation.

Incoming owner Jim Crane has yet to officially assume control of the club, and until he does, cannot and will not be publicly involved in the team's maneuvers, as Fox Sports reports. That approval is not likely to come until the next owner's meetings, which take place Aug. 17-18.

“The owner definitely will have a voice at the deadline regardless of whether they have transferred [ownership] officially,” a rival executive said. “No way he won’t have a voice. [Outgoing owner Drayton] McLane will make sure of that. He will want the guy who is buying the club to have a voice.”

That leaves Houston in limbo for the trade deadline, as Crane rightly deserves to influence the team's future. Despite the ability to make his opinions known privately, Crane will be working with one hand tied behind his back. In addition to being unable to wield complete power over the trading deadline, Crane has to work with a GM that he did not hire. While Crane is widely expected to fire Ed Wade eventually, that won't come until he can both assume control and evaluate Wade's work. Wade is in a sensitive situation, as he has to pull off the best possible deal he can for his incoming owner to save his job.

McLane has resisted for years the call to rebuild, hoping to recapture the glory of winning the 2005 NL pennant. The 'Stros have been in need of a rebuild for a few years, so they're already behind the eight-ball and boast no true superstar on the team, several solid players and a farm system ranked No. 26 by Baseball America. That's a tall task that no one trading deadline can fix, but Wade and Crane can begin the process.

The Astros' best player, Hunter Pence, isn't expected to go anywhere. While his current stature as an important part of Houston's future can always change, the fact remains that he is currently the face of the franchise and is under control for two more seasons. It would not make sense for the incoming owner to kick off his tenure in the eyes of fans by trading Pence; at least not yet.

That leaves Wandy Rodriguez as the next-best player available, although Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Jeff Keppinger and anyone not named Pence and starting pitchers Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles will be considered. Rodriguez has quietly become one of the best left-handed starters in the league and boasts a long-term deal through 2013 with a club option that converts to a player option upon trade. With a total package of $34 million due Rodriguez from the start of 2011, it's an affordable deal for a big impact that many teams can take on.

How big of an impact can Rodriguez have, though?

A pretty big one. As Ken Rosenthal points out, Rodriguez's 2.44 ERA since June 23, 2010 is the second lowest in the majors behind Felix Hernandez's 2.36. Trailing Rodriguez are Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay at 2.45 apiece, with Cole Hamels rounding out the top five at 2.49. What team wouldn't like to have an affordable left-hander who ranks among the best in the game?

You can bet the Yankees are interested. GM Brian Cashman likes to talk game about how he doesn't need to upgrade his rotation. At first blush, you can't blame him. CC Sabathia, All-Star selection or not, is an ace. A.J. Burnett has a big-money deal and big upside. Phil Hughes could be the ace of the Yankees in a couple years, so he gets a spot. Bartolo Colon, thanks to a stem-cell rejuvenated shoulder, is pitching the best he has in years while Freddy Garcia somehow is on pace for a career-low ERA. Heck, they're deep to the point that Ivan Nova was just demoted to Triple-A despite a 4.12 ERA in 16 starts.

But let's look at that list again. Sabathia is fine. Burnett runs hot or cold and posted a 5.26 ERA last season. Hughes just got past a baffling case of decreased velocity, and it's anyone's guess if he can last long-term, while Colon and Garcia were scrap-heap pickups for a reason. Also, and there's a reason that the Yankees chased Cliff Lee so hard and really want a second left-hander. That's crucial in a division stacked with imposing left-handed hitters, especially in Boston.

If the Yankees see a deal for Rodriguez, they will pounce. There are plenty of other suitors chasing starting pitching, though, starting with the Tigers but extending to virtually every other team in the majors. Houston won't have a problem moving Rodriguez, but may find the going a bit tougher with Brett Myers.

Myers joined the Astros last season after eight up-and-down years with Philadelphia. He broke out last season with a 3.14 ERA in 223 2/3 innings, but an increased allowance in home runs has mostly accounted for this year's backsliding to a 4.67 ERA. All told, Myers is who he is, which is a solid No. 3 capable of putting up an ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range. He does have value as he makes $7 million this season, $11 million the next and then the club can pick up a $10 million option if they so choose. He simply has less value because he's being paid commensurate value and it's a lot easier to find a No. 3 or 4 starter than it is a No. 1 or 2, which Rodriguez is.

Another player that could be on the move in Houston is Michael Bourn, who has a rising price tag, is a free agent after 2012 and boasts Scott Boras as his agent. Bourn's value is probably at its highest right now; he's been consistent the entire year and boasts a career-best .290/.354/.402 line at age 28, leading baseball with 35 stolen bases. Even better, he's only been caught four times, so he has serious value on the basepaths. Add in being perhaps the best defensive center fielder in the game and you have a knockout package for a team looking for the perfect leadoff man.

The Nationals are seeking a long-term center fielder and need a leadoff hitter in the worst way. Bourn fills both categories, and the specter of Boras as agent won't bother the Nats; the team has a close working relationship with Boras and often drafts or signs his players. Other teams that could use Bourn to varying degrees are the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Marlins (yeah, right), Padres and Rangers. Of that list, the teams that seem to have the best fit are the Jays, Braves and Brewers.

The Astros are in a challenging situation moving forward, as they clearly need to be rebuilt. Even an incoming owner with public relations issues to be concerned about has to see the situation in Houston for what it is. That makes it extremely important for Crane to communicate his intentions clearly, for Wade to not only see through Crane's wishes, but to extract a deal that solidifies both Houston's and his future.

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Comments
hotmeuly
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:24 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:56 am
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

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Since: Nov 26, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:17 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

:)



Since: Nov 26, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:17 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

:)



Since: Aug 18, 2009
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Would all of you morons please go back and read the article.  It said that the Yankees were looking for a SECOND left handed starter.  In my ignorance, I'm assuming that CC is the first one.



Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Memo to Evan Brunell

C C Sabathia is LEFT HANDED

An additional thought... The first thing new ownership should do when they take over is fire Ed Wade. He has perennially been the worst GM in baseball, starting back in his days with the Phillies (you see where they have been he was terminated) to ruining the Astros, a horrible team with horrible farm system. A fresh GM will do wonders...



Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2011 7:32 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Memo to Evan Brunell

C  C Sabathia is a LEFTY!!!!!!!


Addition thought, the first move new ownership should make is FIRE Ed Wade... See where Philadelphia is since he was given his walking papers...The Astros under his tutelage, are a bad team with a bad farm system...



Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2011 7:14 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Wandy Rodriguez is one of the best left-handed starters?  Uh, no.


If you're looking at ERA (a stat that really doesn't mean much), then he looks good.  But looking at his performances from game to game, it's easy to tell that he's inconsistent.  Extremely inconsistent.  Not only that, he's a #3 at best.  He's only a #1/#2 with the Astros, due to their lack of quality starting pitching.


I can see people jumping for him, but nobody will be stupid enough to overpay in a trade because 1.) he's not that good, and 2.) Wade is the Astros' GM.  If he's not dealing with Philadelphia, he can't make a good deal.  And even when he deals with Philadelphia, it's difficult to say he makes good deals often.  The team will be much better served once Wade gets fired. 



Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Fools if they trade Pence, Bourne, Norris or Rodriguez. Fools!



Since: Dec 12, 2009
Posted on: July 5, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

"But let's look at that list again. Sabathia is fine. Burnett runs hot or cold and posted a 5.26 ERA last season. Hughes just got past a baffling case of decreased velocity, and it's anyone's guess if he can last long-term, while Colon and Garcia were scrap-heap pickups for a reason. Oh, and none of them are left-handed. Not the greatest idea in a division stacked with imposing left-handed hitters, especially in Boston."


The Yankees do have a lefthanded pitcher.......maybe he forgot CC was a southpaw?



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