Choppin’ Brocolli

Many of you have written or tweeted (follow me @daveraymond4 on twitter – I’m happy to respond) expressing some confusion and/or concern about the Houston Astros‘ evolving roster.  So I thought I’d try to put it all down in one place and then open the floor for questions.

Since taking over as the Astros General Manager, Jeff Luhnow has traded away eight players.  Depending on your level of agreement with the club’s desire to rebuild, you may have a wide range of feelings about that.  Make no mistake, though, this was the stated plan a long time ago.  So here are the former Astros, where they are, and what they’ve done: 

  • Mark Melancon – 0-2, 5.95 ERA w/ Boston Red Sox
  • Humberto Quintero – .232-1-19 before being released by the KC Royals
  • Jason Bourgeois – 33 at bats w/ KC Royals, 160 at bats w/ Omaha Royals
  • Carlos Lee – .231-1-8 in 12 gms. w/ Miami Marlins
  • Brandon Lyon – tossed scoreless inning last night for Toronto
  • J.A. Happ – retired two hitters for Toronto last night
  • David Carpenter – assigned to AAA Las Vegas
  • Brett Myers – traded to Chicago White Sox yesterday

In return, the Astros have received 16 players from the Red Sox, Royals, Marlins, Blue Jays and White Sox.  Here’s a glance at what these trades have brought back to the organization:

  • Jed Lowrie – Astros starting SS w/ 14 HRs before going to DL in mid-July
  • Kyle Weiland – Astros starting RHP, made 3 starts before going to DL in April
  • Kevin Chapman – LH reliever @ AA Corpus Christi, 6-3, 1 sv, 2.16 ERA and 45 SO in 41.2 IP
  • D’Andre Toney – .257-2-11 w/ .350 OBP and team-best 6 SB for Greenville
  • Matt Dominguez – was 2-for-8 in 4 gms. w/ Astros, .243-7-52 at AAA level this yr.
  • Bob Rasmussen – short LHP; 2nd round pick by Marlins in 2010; at AA Corpus Christi
  • Francisco Cordero – current closer for Astros, was 3-5, 2 svs, 5.77 ERA
  • Ben Francisco – platoon RF for Astros w/ Brian Bogusevic
  • Joe Musgrove – 19-year old RHP, big kid; TOR’s 1st pick in 2011 compensation rnd of draft
  • Asher Wojciechowski – 23-year old RHP; TOR’s 1st pick in 2010 compensation rnd of draft
  • David Rollins – 22-year old LHP, 10-1 career minor lg. record w/ 2.46 ERA. 104 SO in 113.1 IP
  • Carlos Perez – 21-year old catching prospect, high-ceiling @ premium position
  • Player to be Named – I have no idea, but I heard it might be Babe Ruth
  • Matt Heidenreich – tall, 21-year old RHP; former 4th rounder, 25-17 w/ 3.87 ERA in 3+ yrs.
  • Blair Walters – 22-year old RHP, in two yrs. in minor leagues: 13-6, 3.99 ERA in 32 gms.
  • Player to be Named – not sure, but I heard it’s definitely NOT Old Hoss Radbourn

In all seriousness, it’s always tough to know what a team is getting with a “player to be named later.”  Sometimes it’s an important part of the trade, sometimes it’s not a significant part of the transaction.  Given what we’ve seen from Luhnow so far, I suspect that at least one of those PTBNL will be a prospect-level guy. 

Regardless, we’ve seen the Astros take eight players from the big league roster and turn them into 16 new bodies.  That’s huge.  I’m not much for talking about contracts and salaries and arbitration.  Those things don’t interest me.  I want to know who’s going to play; how good will these guys be?

That said, those eight former Astros are being paid around $40 million this year with at least some future obligations, specific or implied.  Shedding whatever payroll they did, the Astros created ongoing payroll flexibility.  Again, that’s going be pretty important.

More to the point, the players the Astros traded away ranged from 27 to 36 years old.  The average age of the incoming 14 players is 24.2 years old (which included Francisco Cordero at 37 and does not included the two PTBNL).

It’s not easy to see guys go.  We all know that.  It’s kind of like eating vegetables; not fun, but necessary for our health.

The fact is, you’re witnessing one of the most dramatic turnaround efforts in decades.  The Astros are getting younger, deeper and more talented while, at the same time, getting payroll back in line with revenues.  Next step is to develop the talent.

Then the team can spend some money to build around the home-grown nucleus. 

As Luhnow said on his pre-game show today, “There is a plan in place.  We want to get to a point where we can compete year in and year out.”  It takes time.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions.  I don’t have every answer, but I’ll try to explain whatever I can.  Feel free to ask via twitter or through comments to the blog.

Fire away!

11 thoughts on “Choppin’ Brocolli

  1. Thanks for the trading summary. It’s nice to see it all in one place. I’d love to see you give us this same list at this time next year, complete with how all the players have done with their new teams. Not that I’m expecting miracles, it just is interesting to see how trades like these pan out for both sides, especially when the players aren’t superstars.

  2. I like Mills, and it seems that most everyone else did too, until fairly recently. Is it an understood that his lack of success here has been circumstantial, and that he’s not to blame for the losses? Or will his head be on the chopping block? It would seem unfair, although I’ve never personally seen a Mgr. outlast this many losses.

  3. You forgot the one trade Luhnow probably got hosed on — Justin Ruggiano, who is tearing it up (1.124 OBPS) as Miami’s staring centerfielder, for A-ball catcher Jobduan Morales, who is hitting .240 in short season and probably doesn’t have the defense to stay at catcher. But seeing how well the Melancon deal turned out, and how brilliantly Luhnow played the new draft rules, I would bet he knows a thing or two and some of these guys will pan out down the line.

  4. Were we not supposed to start rebuilding when Ed Wade took over as General Manager. As I recall, all Houston writers tried to explain what Ed Wade was doing and kept giving the same response, “That this rebuilding process takes time.” How many more years must Astros fans hear that same response, before getting tired of it.

    • Ed began the process…but ownership wasn’t supporting it fully. You are correct, however, in observing that it “started” under Ed Wade. It’s at full-tilt right now and it’s going to take a while. That’s why it’s hard for teams to embrace. Rebuilding takes time. And it’s not a whole lot of fun sometimes. It could take years. Best case it turns around in two years. More likely to take three to five years before you see it heading up in any meaningful way. So — a long time. I suspect some people will get tired of it. But I don’t know what else to tell you.

  5. When will the Astros be giving away the Colt .45s jersey that actually has the Colt .45 on it? I remember hearing that it would be later in the season because for the original .45s jersey giveaway it was too late to go back and place the firearm on the jersey. I’d like to get one. Thanks.

    • Sorry for the delay — but I’m never in the loop on PTBNL stuff. It’s always news to me in the same way it’s news to you. I think I mentioned in the blog that I think one of the two PTBNL will be important, the other one is more likely just a body to complete the deal. I don’t know which will be which, but that’s my guess.

  6. Well the Astros will be sorry for a long time, and they should just bring all the minors up. They can’t possibly play any worse than these guys are playing. Cooper would never have lasted this long with all these lost games. Time to get someone who knows how to motivate the youth.

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