Results tagged ‘ trade ’

Oswalt, Pence return. Will you cheer or boo?

For the first time since they were traded to the Phillies, pitcher Roy Oswalt and right fielder Hunter Pence return to Minute Maid Park for tonight’s game against the Astros. Oswalt has been with the Phillies for more than a year, but this will be his first trip to Houston in those red shoes. Pence was traded just a few weeks ago and is flourishing with the best team in baseball.

Oswalt, who left in Houston one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins, asked Astros management for a trade last year when he didn’t like the direction the club was headed. Pence certainly didn’t ask for a trade, but the Astros were in payroll-trimming mode and were able to land some of the Phillies top prospects in exchange for the high-flying outfielder.

Earlier this year when Lance Berkman made his return to Minute Maid Park with the Cardinals, he received a nice ovation. Not surprising, since he’s one of the most popular players in franchise history. Pence and Oswalt are in the same category. But Astros fans haven’t always been so kind to those who have returned in different uniforms.

Carlos Beltran, who spent only four months in Houston and had a legendary performance in the 2004 playoffs, still gets booed six years after he shunned the Astros and signed a big-money deal with the Mets. Brad Lidge, the closer during the terrific playoff seasons in 2004 and 2005, still gets booed as well, which is a little strange. I’m guessing it has to do with giving up his homer to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS than it does anything else. Lidge was a model citizen and good player in Houston.

So, what will be it be, Astros fans? Boos or cheers for Oswalt and Pence?

Bourn prefers Houston

For the second day in a row, the Astros clubhouse was filled with anxiety as everyone wondered if more players were on their way out the door. The Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies on Friday, and were reportedly in talks with the Braves for a possible deal for Michael Bourn.

The Astros’ efforts to trade outfielder Bourn were picking up steam on Friday evening, according to multiple reports. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Saturday it’s growing more likely Bourn will be dealt before Sunday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Bourn said Saturday he’d prefer to stay in Houston, his hometown.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I don’t control that. There’s nothing I can do about that. There’s nothing I can say because everybody knew [Hunter] wanted to stay here and he had no control. Sometimes the business side takes over the love side. You’ve got to understand that.”

Bourn was trying to stay focused as much as possible.

“I know it was a little tough for Hunter,” Bourn said. “It’s a tough thing to deal with all the time. If one of your big pieces leave, then they’re trying to start the whole thing over. That happens from time to time and you have to deal with that. Whatever they decide to do, I’ll have to be prepared every day.”

Bourn, 28, is having his best season, entering Saturday hitting .304 with a Major League-leading 39 stolen bases. Since June 1, he’s tied for first in the National League in hits and ranks fourth in batting average (.338).

Cosart thrilled to join Astros

The dream of pitching in the Major Leagues just got much better for Jarred Cosart.

Cosart, one of four players acquired by the Astros in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies on Friday night, grew up cheering for the Astros from his home in League City, Texas, which is about 27 miles south of Houston. He’ll report to Double-A Corpus Christi (at Midland, Texas) on Sunday and hopes to be pitching at Minute Maid Park soon.

“I can’t describe it in words,” Cosart told MLB.com via phone. “It’s stuff you read about all the time, players having a chance to play for their hometown team. I don’t know how many guys in the Major Leagues right now have that opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I’m going take it and run with it.”

Cosart’s parents are vacationing in San Diego and began to hear rumors he was being traded to Houston.

“They heard my name pop up and finally saw it up there [on TV],” he said. “They were kind of shocked, but after the shock wears off you get excited. I heard from a lot of friends and family. I turned my phone off last night about 3 a.m.”

Cosart, 21,was drafted in the 38th round of the 2008 Draft but signed with the Phillies with an over-slot deal instead of heading to Missouri. He’s always had electric stuff, but he had trouble staying healthy over his first couple of years and threw just 95 2/3 innings from 2009 to ’10.

In 2009, he had back and shoulder problems. In 2010, his season ended in June because of a bad elbow. Even in limited time, though, he showed what he can do, striking out 102 and walking just 23 in that span.  Cosart has one of the better fastballs in the Minors, and it was on display at this year’s Futures Game, when he was touching 98 mph.

Cosart said he’s healthy. He was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) at Class A Clearwater.

“I’ve had some really minor little injuries and I never wanted to have that label,” he said. “I worked really hard this last offseason to get in shape for the season. It worked out well and I know I’m starting to let it go, get after it. I feel like I’m close to where I need to be.”

When he heard he was traded, he texted J.D. Martinez and told him he’d be joining him in Corpus Christi. He didn’t know at the time Martinez was headed to the Major Leagues in the wake of the Pence trade. Cosart and Martinez played against each other several times last year in Class A Lexington and talked a lot.

Not only is Cosart joining the Astros, but he’s moving up a level in an organization that’s showing increasing willingness to promote young prospects. Jordan Lyles in the Majors at 20 years old, and Jose Altuve and Martinez were promoted from Double-A.

Suddenly, Cosart is much closer to reaching the Major Leagues.

“It doesn’t matter what team, but now that I’m with my hometown team it’s unbelievable,” he said. “And the fact they’re rebuilding and they have a lot of young guys and there’s an opportunity. I want to pitch in the big leagues and I want to win. There Astros are going into that mode and they want to win with younger guys. It shows a lot about the organization’s belief in young guys and giving younger guys a chance, something the Phillies really didn’t need to do.”

Astros have a deal for Pence

The Astros have reached a deal to send All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to the Phillies in exchange for four players, including Philadelphia’s top two Minor League prospects, a person close to the negotiations told MLB.com.

The deal, which is subject to the approval Major League Baseball, is expected to be finalized on Friday.

Pence was pulled from the field in the middle of the fifth inning of the Astros’ game against the Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park.

The Astros are receiving right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart and left-handed outfielder Jonathan Singleton, along with two more players. At least one of the players will be a player to be named later. Cosart is ranked by MLB.com as the Phillies’ top prospect, and Singleton is No. 2.

Pence, 28, entered Friday’s game .309 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs for the Astros and made the National League All-Star team for the second time. He’s making $6.9 million this season and still has two years of arbitration remaining, so any team acquiring him would have him under control for at least two more seasons.

Cosart, 21, grew up in League City, just south of Houston, and was drafted in the 38th round in 2008. He’s got an 18-13 career record with a 3.67 ERA in his career, including 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA this year at Class A Clearwater.

Cosart has electric stuff, with one of the better fastballs in the Minors and a very good curve. He’s lean and projectable and he’s got good command of his stuff.

Singleton, 20, was taken in the eighth round in 2009 and is a career .287 hitter with 25 homers and 136 RBIs in 227 games, including .282 with nine homers and 47 RBIs in 92 games this year.

A high school draftee had an extremely productive first full season, being named the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Major League prospect. He should hit for average and power and has a good approach at the plate.

Although he was a top first base prospect, the Phillies have moved Singleton to the outfield to avoid the Ryan Howard roadblock. He’s taken to it better than expected. He’s manning left field in Clearwater this season.

Pence  burst onto the scene in 2007, hitting .322 with 17 homers and 69 RBIs in his first year with the Astros, who drafted him in the second round in 2004 out of the University of Texas-Arlington. He hit 25 homers in each of the next three seasons, and in 2009 became the 12th Astros outfielder to make the All-Star team.

Pence: ‘I love Houston’

With the Astros possibly getting closer to a deal to trade Hunter Pence, the right-fielder admitted following Thursday night’s win over the Cardinals that he couldn’t help but think it might have been his last game in an Astros uniform.

“What can I say? I’m not in control,” he said. “I love these guys, I love Houston. That’s all I know.”

The Phillies are pushing hard for Pence and could be willing to offer pitcher Vance Worley, outfielder Domonic Brown and a Minor League pitcher.

Pence went 2-for-4 with two doubles on Thursday to raise his average to .309, saying he benefited from a day off.

“Sometimes when you get to watch a game you know it kind of slows things down for you,” he said. “Things were piling up and was making mistakes of the past and trying to do too much just to make up for it. It made me realize…slow the game down.”

Pence could be on the move

The Astros appear to be moving closer to trading All-Star right-fielder Hunter Pence, MLB.com has learned.

As of Thursday afternoon, at least six teams are involved in negotiations to acquire Pence, according to a person close to the situation. No deal is imminent, and Astros general manager Ed Wade declined to comment when reached by MLB.com.

The interest in Pence has picked up considerably since Carlos Beltran was acquired by the Giants from the Mets.

KRIV-TV in Houston reported on its website Thursday the Reds, Phillies and Braves, along with three teams in the American League, are in the negotiations.

Lindstrom reacts to trade to Rockies

Matt Lindstrom was shoveling ice and snow from his mother’s driveway Thursday morning in Rexburg, Idaho, when he phone started going crazy. He soon found out he had been traded for the second consecutive offseason, but the news wasn’t all necessarily bad.

Lindstrom, who makes his offseason home in the Denver area, had been traded to the Colorado Rockies, who sent Minor League left-handed pitcher Wes Musick and right-handed pitcher Jonnathan Aristil to the Astros. “It’s pretty exciting,” Lindstrom told MLB.com on Thursday. “It’s a little bit bittersweet because I enjoyed my time in Houston so much and all my teammates and everyone was really good to me down there. I’m going to miss even [the media]. At times I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, but [the media] wasn’t too hard on me. I’m really excited to get going to Colorado and help them out and provide late-inning relief, especially because that’s where I spend my offseason.”

Lindstrom said he had talked to both Astros general manager Ed Wade and Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd on Thursday.

“[O’Dowd] clued me in on what they’re going to have me do and that’s provide late-inning relief,” he said. “Whatever the innings may be, there’s a lot of good guys over there already and hopefully I can contribute.”

Lindstrom, whom the Astros acquired a year ago in a trade with the Marlins, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA and a team-high 23 saves in 58 appearances. Lindstrom lost his closer’s job when he struggled in the second half of the year and wound up spending two weeks on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

“There were things I learned through my journey last year,” Lindstrom said. “I’m just going to take care of myself and be healthy all year and I know if I can do those things, good things will happen.”

When asked how he feels now, Lindstrom said: “Feel awesome.”

Lindstrom made $1.625 million last season and was due a raise in arbitration, which made him a candidate to be traded by the budget-minded Astros. Houston has feels good about its bullpen depth, with Brandon Lyon saving 20 games last season and Wilton Lopez developing into a dependable late-inning arm.

The Astros have also shopped infielder Jeff Keppinger, who started at second base for most of last season but has been pushed back to the bench by the signing of Bill Hall earlier this week. Houston traded with the Rockies in November to acquire shortstop Clint Barmes. Keppinger is still dealing with foot issues.

With the acquisitions of pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, Barmes and Hall and trading away Lindstrom, the Astros are pretty much done this offseason, unless they can find a taker for Keppinger. They are also still in the market for a left-handed reliever.

In the last sixh months, the Astros traded away Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Pedro Feliz and Lindstrom and got eight prospects in return, plus they took two more in the Rule 5 Draft. That’s 10 young players injected into the system.

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I am on vacation all of next week — like I was this week, with the exception of helping my colleagues here and there on all the Astros news that happened — and I want to wish everyone who reads this blog a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Spring Training is around the corner!

So long, Puma

Lance Berkman was one of the most caring, honest and reliable guys you could ever want to meet, in addition to being a heck of a baseball player. Sure, it looks like his skills are declining at age 34, but he can still swing the bat, draws walks and, as we saw a few days ago, knows how to turn on a good fastball now and then.

Simply put, Berkman, traded to the Yankees on Saturday, is the most enjoyable players I’ve covered in my seven years on the Astros beat and he’ll be missed. It’s definitely going to be strange to see him wearing pinstripes.

So long, Puma.

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Oswalt happy for Berkman

Roy Oswalt, who fell to 6-13 after losing his Phillies debut on Friday, was excited to hear long-time friend and Astros teammate Lance Berkman was being sent to the Yankees in a trade that is expected to be announced Saturday.

“I think it will be good for him,” he said. “Sometimes you get a change of scenery, it turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. I think it will be great for him to get back in a pennant race and feel the excitement of it. In ’04 and ’05 when we made up all that ground and got to go to the World Series, that’s where the real baseball is.”

So what about the prospect of Oswalt’s Phillies and Berkman’s Yankees facing off in the playoffs?

“He was actually the first person I called when I got traded,” Oswalt said. “He was saying the worst part was going to be facing me. I’ve been watching him for 10 years, so I kind of know where to throw him.

 

Astros on verge of sending Berkman to Yanks

The Astros on the verge of sending five-time All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees, a source told MLB.com on Friday. Berkman told reporters Friday he had been approached the club about waiving his no-trade clause, and he approved a list of four teams he would consider going to. The Yankees are on the list.

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