Results tagged ‘ 2010 ’

A look back at two years of Astros trades

With the Trade Deadline over, it’s time to reflect on the deals the Astros have made in the past three seasons. Houston has made a flurry of deadline deals in 2010, ’11 and ’12 as it rebuilds and stockpiles prospects.

In that time span, the Astros said goodbye to, among others, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Carlos Lee, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Johnson.

In the month of July of this year alone, they acquired 13 Minor Leaguers and two players to be named later and were the most active team when it came to trading.

Here’s a look at the major deals the Astros have made in the last two years (you can click on the players’ names for his current stats):

Date: July 29, 2010.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: LHP J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose, SS Jonathan Villar.

Phillies receive: RHP Roy Oswalt, cash.

The skinny: Oswalt had requested a trade after being frustrated with how the Astros were playing. The Astros obliged, getting a low-cost starting pitcher in Happ and a pair of prospects. Gose was immediately shipped to the Blue Jays, and Villar remains one of the team’s top prospects, though he recently broke his hand punching a door.

Date: July 29, 2010.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: IF Brett Wallace.

Blue Jays receive: OF Anthony Gose.

The skinny: After acquiring Gose from the Phillies, the Astros immediately turned around and dealt him to the Jays in exchange for Wallace. Considering Wallace was a first baseman, that began speculation that Lance Berkman was on his way out the door.

Date: July 31, 2010.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: RHP Mark Melancon, IF Jimmy Paredes.

Yankees receive: 1B Lance Berkman, cash.

The skinny: Berkman had the right to approve any trade, and when the Astros came to him and said they possibly had a deal with the Yanks, he didn’t stand in Houston’s way of getting more young players. Berkman didn’t do much with the Yankees, and Melancon wound up taking over as closer in 2011 before later being shipped to Boston. Paredes has moved around the infield, but he’s one of the most athletic players in the system and is putting up stellar numbers in Triple-A this year.

Date: Dec. 23, 2010.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: LHP Wes Musick, RHP Jonnathan Aristil.

Rockies receive: RHP Matt Lindstrom.

The skinny: Lindstrom pitched one year in Houston and was inconsistent while battling to stay healthy, so the Astros spun him to Colorado and took a flier on a pair of Minor League pitchers.

Date: July 19, 2011.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: RHP Henry Sosa, RHP Jason Stoffel.

Giants receive: IF Jeff Keppinger.

The skinny: Keppinger was a solid hitter who performed well in Houston, but with the club in rebuilding mode, the Astros dealt him for a pair of Minor League arms. Sosa wound up pitching in the Astros’ rotation last year, but is now playing in Korea. Stoffel is closing at Double-A and has some potential.

Date: July 29, 2011.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: RHP Jarred Cosart, IF Jonathan Singleton, RHP Josh Zeid, player to be named later (OF Domingo Santana).

Phillies receive: OF Hunter Pence.

The skinny: Pence was Houston’s best hitter and due to receive a big raise in arbitration, which really didn’t make much sense for the Astros considering the direction the club was going. Thus, the popular outfielder was sent to the contending Phillies, who paid a high price. Cosart and Singleton became Houston’s top two prospects, and some scouts believed Santana might wind up being the best player in the deal. Pence was traded by the Phillies to the Giants a year later.

Date: July 31, 2011.

General manager: Ed Wade.

Astros receive: OF Jordan Schafer, RHP Juan Abreu, RHP Paul Clemens, LHP Brett Oberholtzer.

Braves receive: CF Michael Bourn.

The skinny: Two days after trading Pence to the Phillies, the Astros traded another popular player by sending Houston native Bourn, a Gold Glove outfielder who had come into his own offensively, to the Braves. The haul wasn’t quite as impressive as what the Astros got in return for Pence, but the three Minor League arms have some promise. Schafer hasn’t lived up to potential.

Date: Dec. 14, 2011.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Kyle Weiland.

Red Sox receive: RHP Mark Melancon.

The skinny: Luhnow’s first trade as GM appears to be a good one for the Astros, though both Lowrie and Weiland are on the disabled list (Weiland is out for the year). There were questions about Melancon’s ability to close, and he was a disaster in Boston. Lowrie was one of the most productive shortstops in the NL before he injured his leg in July.

Date: March 21, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: LHP Kevin Chapman, player to be name named later (OF D’Andre Toney).

Royals receive: C Humberto Quintero, OF Jason Bourgeois.

The skinny: Quintero and Bourgeois were back-ups who couldn’t crack the starting lineup of a last-place team, and Luhnow managed to trade them for two Minor Leaguers. Chapman has shown some early promise at Double-A, while Toney could be one to watch years down the road. Bourgeois wound up in the Minors with the Royals, who soon cut Quintero.

Date: July 4, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: IF Matt Dominguez, LHP Rob Rasmussen.

Marlins receive: 1B Carlos Lee, cash.

The skinny: The first of five major trades in July, the Marlins were desperate for first base help and gave the Astros two Minor League players for the aging slugger. The Astros were happy to get him off their roster, and were even willing to pay the bulk of his remaining contract. Dominguez was brought up to the Majors, but was sent back down a few days later.

Date: July 20, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, a player to be named later.

Blue Jays receive: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP David Carpenter.

The skinny: The Astros acquired seven players, including four Minor Leaguers and a player to be named later, in a 10-player deal with the Jays. Happ had been with the team two years and could never gain consistency, while Lyon was in the final year of his three-year deal. This trade was more about the Minor League arms the Astros received, while addressing a catching shortage in the system, more than it was about the two big league players they received – Cordero and Francisco.

Date: July 21, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: RHP Matthew Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters, a player to be named later.

White Sox receive: RHP Brett Myers, cash.

The skinny: With Myers having a good shot at vesting his 2013 option that would have paid him $10 million, the Astros sent him to the White Sox and stockpiled a few more Minor League arms. Myers was having a solid season as closer after starting 66 games the previous two years in Houston.

Date: July 25, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive: LHP Rudy Owens, OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Colton Cain.

Pirates receive: LHP Wandy Rodriguez, cash.

The skinny: The rebuilding effort continued as the Astros sent Rodriguez – the last remaining member from the 2005 World Series team – to the Pirates for three more prospects. The Astros had to pay a substantial part of Rodriguez’s remaining contract, but they felt getting more prospect was worth the price.

Date: July 29, 2012.

General manager: Jeff Luhnow.

Astros receive:  IF Bobby Borchering, OF Marc Krauss.

D-backs receive: 3B Chris Johnson.

The skinny: The Astros pulled off their fifth trade of the month. Houston wasn’t actively shopping Johnson, but he had recently gone on a tear and some teams were getting aggressive in their pursuit of the 27-year-old third baseman. Unlike the previous trades in July in which the Astros stockpiled the pitching, the Johnson trade brought a pair of bats, and in the case of Borchering, maybe some much-needed power to the system.

Astros by the numbers for 2010

Here’s a statistical look back at the Astros’ 2010 season:

  • Of the eight teams that made the playoffs this year, the Astros played seven of them and posted a combined 14-35 record (they didn’t play Minnesota). Here’s how they fared against teams that made the playoffs: Yankees (0-3), Rays (1-2), Rangers (1-5), Giants (2-7), Braves (1-5), Reds (5-10), Phillies (4-3).
  • The Astros hit only 108 home runs this year, which is their fewest since hitting 96 while playing home games at the Astrodome in 1992. Their 611 runs scored their fewest since 1994.
  • The Astros were 59-21 when scoring four or more runs and 21-18 in one-run games.
  • The Astros were 44-34 against the NL Central, winning the season series from every team except the Reds.
  • The Astros had seven sweeps and were swept eight times.
  • The Astros were 7-6 in extra-inning games.
  • The Astros had 123 different batting orders in 162 games.
  • The Astros hit three grand slams: Carlos Lee (June 9), Lance Berkman (July 27) and Jason Michaels (Aug. 1).
  • The Astros hit back-to-back home runs only once (Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence on May 9).
  • Only two players had multi-homer games: Carlos Lee (July 28) and Hunter Pence (Aug. 17).
  • Chris Johnson led the Astros in batting (.308), Hunter Pence led the team in home runs (25) and RBIs (91), Jeff Keppinger in doubles (34) and Michael Bourn in triples (six) and stolen bases (52).
  • Brett Myers won the team’s pitching triple crown among starters, leading the club in wins (14), ERA (3.14) and strikeouts (180).
  • Here’s where the Astros ranked in various offensive categories in the 16-team NL: 13th (tied) in triples (25); 14th in hits (1,438), doubles (252), batting average (.247); 15th in runs scored (611), RBIs (571); and last in home runs (108), total bases (1,974), on-base percentage (.303), slugging percentage (.363) and OPS (.667) and walks (409).
  • The Astros struck out 1,025 times, which was the fewest in the NL.
  • Here’s where the Astros ranked in the NL in various pitching categories: second (tied) in quality starts (95); third in saves (45); sixth in runs allowed (729); eighth in strikeouts (1,183); 10th in ERA (4.09), shutouts (10); and 11th (tied) in batting average against (.262).
  • The Astros went 42-39 at home to finish with a winning record in each of the last 10 seasons at Minute Maid Park.
  • The Astros drew 2,331,490 fans in 81 games this year, for an average of 28,784. Since drawing a record 3,022,763 in 2006 (the year after their World Series berth), attendance has dropped four years in a row. The Astros drew 3,020,405 in 2007, 2,779,487 in 2008 and 2,521,076 in 2009. Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped for the third straight season, falling 1 percent this year.
  • RHP Wilton Lopez stranded 32 of the 33 runners he inherited this year.
  • RHP Brandon Lyon didn’t allow a run in 33 of his last 36 appearances.
  • CF Michael Bourn led the league in stolen bases for the second year in a row with 52.


The Astros at the halfway point

After 81 games — midpoint in their 162-game schedule — the Astros are 32-49, which puts them on pace to go 64-98, which would be their worst record in club history. I once thought the club was a shoo-in to reach 100 losses, but it is 15-15 in its last 30 games and has been playing better for the most part.

Will that continue? A lot of it will depend on what happens by the end of this month and the trade deadline. If the Astros trade Roy Oswalt, who pitched terrific on Friday, for some prospects, and perhaps even Brett Myers, they will be in a full-fledged youth movement and there figures to be some growing pains.

The Astros are already committed to rookies Chris Johnson at third base and Jason Castro at catcher, and it appears 26-year-old Angel Sanchez will get substantial playing time at shortstop until rookie Tommy Manzella returns from his broken finger. If the Astros do get some top-notch prospects for Oswalt, the second half of the season will be worth watching if the future of the club is on display.

This is one of the few seasons in last 20 years the Astros are pretty much out of it at the All-Star break, due in large part because sluggers Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence struggled collectively to begin the season. At the end of the season, they could wind up having decent numbers, but their inability to hit — along with Pedro Feliz and Kaz Matsui — early in the year buried the Astros.

Lee is on pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 82 runs, which would way below his career averages, not to mention he’s hitting .238. Berkman is hitting .240 and has seven homers and 35 RBIs at the midpoint, but he did miss the first two weeks of the season. Pence? He’s on pace to hit .257 with 22 homers an 77 RBIs.

On the mound, Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez — the top two pitchers in the Astros’ rotation — are on pace to lose 20 games. That’s a shame for Oswalt, considering he’s delivered 14 quality starts in 17 outings and has a 3.32 ERA. He’s stuck at 142 career wins, leaving him two shy of Joe Niekro for the club’s all-time lead. Whether gets a chance to get it or gets dealt will be one of the biggest story lines for the second half of the season.

Here’s predicting the Astros play better in the second half of the season and avoid 100 losses, whether it’s from the veterans stepping up at the plate or the infusion of youth paying dividends.

Here are my Astros awards at the midpoint:

Astros Player of the Year: Michael Bourn. He’s hitting .264 with one homer and 20 RBIs from the leadoff spot with on on-base percentage of .340, but he’s stolen 25 bases, is among league leaders in outfield assists and is on his way to a second Gold Glove.

Astros Pitcher of the Year: Matt Lindstrom: He’s got 19 saves in 23 chances for a team that has only 32 wins. He’s posted a 2.97 ERA and proven to be a terrific pickup from the Marlins. He’s got a chance to make the All-Star team. A case could certainly be made for Oswalt or Myers.

Astros Rookie of the Year: Wilton Lopez. The durable reliever is 3-0 with a 3.98 ERA in 30 games. At the end of year we may be giving this to Chris Johnson or Jason Castro, but they haven’t been around long enough at this point.



My prediction: Astros will go 79-83

National expectations are so low for the Astros, they’ve been lumped into the same category as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals. In other words, few think they’re going to be any good. They are picked last in the NL Central by some, which means behind Pittsburgh, and are picked fifth in the division by most.

With the Astros set to open the 2010 season tonight at Minute Maid Park against the Giants, I can see why the expectations from the experts are so low. They lost 88 games last year and said goodbye to their leading hitter (Miguel Tejada), closer (Jose Valverde) and setup man (LaTroy Hawkins) and replaced them with Pedro Feliz, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Feliz isn’t nealry as good of a hitter as Tejada, and Lindstrom and Lyon aren’t as proven as Valverde.

To be the fair, the Astros also added right-hander Brett Myers and have a better rotation than they did at this time last year when Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz were part of the team. But they’re also relying on a rookie at shortstop and an unproven catcher.

The bottom line is this: if the Astros are going to have any chance to compete, they need to stay healthy, and considering they have an aging core of players, that could be challenging. Lance Berkman is opening the season on the disabled list and Roy Oswalt has already had an injection into his lower back. Berkman has to produce and Oswalt needs to make 30 starts for the club to have a chance.

The second biggest factor are the younger players continuing to progress. I’m throwing Wandy Rodriguez in the young crowd because he had a breakout year last year, but he and Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence can’t afford to take a step back.

What is impossible to measure is the difference Brad Mills will make. The players completely bought into his system and are going to play hard for him, which wasn’t the case with Cecil Cooper last year. Plus, Mills can’t be a worse on-field tactician than his predecessor, so he’s going to make a positive difference in the standings in a division that includes experienced managers in Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella.

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to talent and health. This is not a bad team when it’s healthy, certainly not a team that will compete with Washington and Pittsburgh for the worst record in the NL. But it’s hard to convince me at this point the health of the Astros won’t be an issue.

Thus, I’m picking the Astros to go 79-83 and finish in the middle of the pack in the NL Central. That’s a more optimistic prediction than most, but still well short of contending for the playoffs. I would love to hear your prediction.