Astros stockpile young talent
The Astros’ success from 1997-2005 was a product of some terrific front-office moves. They drafted well, made some key free-agent signings and weren’t afraid to trade away some of their top prospects to get players in return. When the big contracts become burdensome and the youth pipeline began to dry up, the Astros were forced to shift course.
What made matters worse was the disastrous draft of 2007, which led to a shake up in the front office. Ed Wade took over as general manager and was asked to rebuild a farm system considered one of the worst in baseball, and one of the first thing he’s he did was hire Bobby Heck as scouting director.
The 2008 draft produced catcher Jason Castro and pitcher Jordan Lyles, and the Astros are still waiting to see what the 2009 and 2010 drafts produce, though several of their top prospects came from those drafts, including 2009 first-round pick Jiovanni Mier.
But what Wade and his staff have managed to do is add even more young players to the system in the past few months with a series of trades, as well as the Rule 5 draft. Here’s a look at the moves the teams has made since July 1 that have netted 11 young players in return:
- July 1, 2010 – Acquired infielder Angel Sanchez from Boston in exchange for Kevin Cash.
Comment: Sanchez did a nice job at the plate while starting at shortstop for much of the second half of the season while Tommy Manzella was on the disabled list. Sanchez has no power and is limited defensively, but he has skills.
- July 29, 2010 – Acquired pitcher J.A. Happ, infielder Jonathan Villar and outfielder Anthony Gose from Phillies in exchange for Roy Oswalt.
Comment: Oswalt didn’t want to be in Houston anymore, and the Astros were thrilled to get the switch-hitting Villar, who immediately became one of the team’s top prospects.
- July 29, 2010 – Acquired first baseman Brett Wallace from Blue Jays in exchange for Gose.
Comment: With Lance Berkman on his way out, the Astros spun Gose to the Blue Jays for Wallace, who became the starting first baseman at the Major League level.
- July 31, 2010 – Acquired pitcher Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes from the Yankees in exchange for Lance Berkman.
Comment: The Astros weren’t going to pick up Berkman’s hefty option for 2011, so he agreed to a trade to the Yankees. Melancon is a key part to the bullpen, and Paredes is a speedy third baseman who was put on the 40-man roster.
- Aug. 19, 2010 – Acquired pitcher David Carpenter from the Cardinals in exchange for Pedro Feliz.
Comment: With rookie Chris Johnson tearing it up at the plate, Feliz was done in Houston. Still, the Astros managed to get something for him in a trade. Carpenter was added to the 40-man roster and could be in the mix this year in the bullpen.
- Dec. 9, 2010 – Selected right-handers Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton in the Rule 5 Draft.
Comment: Both Rodriguez and Pendleton will compete for a spot in the rotation this spring, but they must remain on the active roster or be offered back to their former clubs (Rodriguez came from the Rays and Pendleton the Yankees).
- Dec. 23, 2010 – Acquired left-hander Wes Musick and right-hander Jonnathan Aristil from the Rockies in exchange for Matt Lindstrom.
Comment: Lindstrom was due for a big raise in arbitration, and the Astros were worried about his health and inconsistency last year. They got a pair of young arms in return who have some potential.