Pudge trade makes sense
You can call the Astros’ trading of Pudge Rodriguez to the Rangers a case of throwing in the towel for 2009 or the start of a rebuilding effort, but I don’t believe either is the case. Are the Astros out of it for this? Almost certainly, but they aren’t going to concede anything until they are mathematically eliminated.
And I wouldn’t call trading away a 35-year-old catcher who has very little left in the tank the start of a rebuilding effort. Pudge was brought here to serve in a pinch anyway, to play one season at catcher while the Astros wait on Jason Castro to get ready. Pudge gave the Astros more offense at catcher than they’ve had in years and was a great influence on the pitching staff, but basically they go three players from the Rangers for very little. It’s a good move, and the kind they should have made.
Now, if the Astros start getting rid of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, then you have rebuilding on your hands. Getting rid of Pudge? Not to so much.
So where do they go from here? Mike Hampton‘s season could be done and you’d have to call his return to the Astros a disappointment. Astros general manager Ed Wade took chances of Hampton and Russ Ortiz to be part of the rotation, and neither has worked out. Brian Moehler can be a productive part of the staff, especially is he’s the fifth starter and not the third or fourth.
The Astros should call up shortstop Tommy Manzella in September and get a good look at him. If you think he can be your everyday shortstop next year, make an effort to re-sign Miguel Tejada and move him to third. Tejada told MLB.com last week he’s open to moving to third, but money will be an issue. I’d sign him for $5 or $7 million, but not anywhere close to the $14 million he makes now.
I’d take the rest of the money — if any — the Astros might have in the off-season and invest in pitching. Signing another starting pitcher to put him with Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris. All of a sudden you have the makings of a nice rotation. I wouldn’t bring Jose Valverde back and either give the closing job to LaTroy Hawkins, who will be a free agent at season’s end, or identify someone in the organization who can close. That, of course, is easier said than done.
The bottom line is the Astros still have some nice pieces and moves like sending off Pudge could only have a positive effect on their future.