Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ed Wade is Deluded

Astros Receive: SS Miguel Tejada (Rating: 2/10)

Orioles Receive: OF Luke Scott, 3B Mike Costanzo, SP Troy Patton, SP Matt Albers, RP Dennis Sarfate (7)

Oh, Ed Wade. I feel like he's channeling Art Alexakis, telling Lance Berkman that he'll buy him a shiny new team and soon it will all be better.

It's not like the Astros gave up a future Hall of Famer in this deal, but they began the offseason as non-contenders and all they've done is get maybe one win closer to .500. I've praised the Reds for striking while the division is winnable, but the Astros are a lot further from contention than the Reds in the next few years. Houston has no Jay Bruce or Joey Votto about to graduate from its farm system, nor a Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto to dangle in a deal for Erik Bedard. This team is spinning its tires, only now they're doing so with a highly-paid middle infield.

Consider that the Astros effectively exchanged Luke Scott and Adam Everett in their everyday lineup for Tejada and Michael Bourn. Scott and Tejada are projected (by both CHONE and ZIPS) to put up similar hitting numbers this year; Bourn's projections are slightly better than Everett's. So that's all Houston is really getting at the plate, a slight upgrade. In the field, they're now playing two center fielders, but exchanged the best shortstop in the majors for a below-average defender. To make this "upgrade," they also gave up a capable closer and three young arms. Not the best way to build a championship team.

This deal effectively ends Everett's tenure in Houston. Everett is a tremendous glove at short, maybe the best since Ozzie Smith, but he can't hit a lick and is entering his thirties. Still, any team interested in Jack Wilson should consider Everett; his career OPS is only 34 points lower than Wilson's, and he's a better fielder.

Scott will easily outhit Jay Payton for 1/10 of the price. This is a good buy-low move, as Scott was pushed out of the outfield mix by Bourn. I'm lukewarm on Costanzo's prospect status, but he'll at least be a cheap starter when Melvin Mora's time is done, and might develop into a 25-30 HR hitter in the majors.

Troy Patton is the best of the arms Houston sent packing. Baseball America called him a potential number 2 starter in last year's Prospect Handbook, but his strikeout rate took a big hit in 2007. He's still just 22 and has big tools, so he has plenty of time. Matt Albers won't be more than a back-of-the-rotation guy, but the going rate for those is $7-10 million/year, so he could still have plenty of value in that role.

Pay no mind to Sarfate's dominant MLB numbers, as they're completely out of line with anything he's done in the minors. In a perfect world, he becomes an effectively wild bullpen arm a la Santiago Casilla, but the more likely scenario is Franklyn German, who simply walks too many batters to pitch in the majors.

I'd rather have one Top 10 Prospect than this assortment, which takes up a full eighth of the 40-man roster by itself, but it looks like that option wasn't available to the Orioles, so they did a pretty good job getting value from Tejada, even though he was traded two years too late.

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