Sutton is the PTBN

When the Astros traded a Player To Be Named (PTBN) to the Cincinnati Reds for infielder Jeff Keppinger, it was widely considered to be a pretty darned good move.  We’d filled a need at third base, as well as adding a bench player who could fill in at several positions on an as-needed basis.

And though we didn’t know who we’d be giving up to get him, the understanding was that it would be a minor leaguer; perhaps one with a little upside, but since the Astros were making the deal with a position of power – since Keppinger was out of options, the Reds would have to expose him to waivers before they sent him down.  At least by making this trade, they were going to get something for the loss of Keppinger.

Today, that “something” was announced, in the form of Drew Sutton.

With a farm system ranked #30 out of 30, the Astros don’t have a lot of top-end prospects to build the future of the club around.  Tommy Manzella, Sutton, Chris Johnson, Bud Norris, and Brian Bogusevic are pretty much the only prospects currently in the system with immediate major league-ready talent.

Losing Sutton makes a significant dent in that limited talent pool.  Though Keppinger has been very hot in his Astros career, his long-term value is not great.  Once Johnson is promoted to the Majors, Geoff Blum will be moved to the bench, leaving Jason Smith and Keppinger as the options for utility infielder.  Even assuming Kazuo Matsui has to miss extended time, as usual, making Keppinger the starting second baseman; beyond this season, it’s hard to see where he fits in.

Sutton, on the other hand, is the team’s second baseman of the future.  One of the major reasons the Astros organizations is in the shape it’s currently in is that we’ve given up too much value for too little a return.  Five players for Miguel Tejada, for instance.  Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh for Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. I’m sure I don’t need to go on.

I appreciate what Jeff Keppinger brings to the table this season, but to give up one of the very few top-end prospects we’ve got in the system is, once again, overpaying.


  1. roundrock15

    While I don’t think Sutton will ever be a top-line MLB second baseman, his upside is very good, and he’s one of the worst players we could have sent in this trade. I really hope you’re wrong and that it doesn’t come back to haunt us the way watching Brad Lidge finish up the World Series for the Phillies did, but he certainly has that potential, especially going to a team in our division.

  2. stonebutch99

    Why do this team KEEP doing this? They would put the entire farm up in second if it meant they could win *right* now.

  3. roundrock15

    If it meant we could win right now, I wouldn’t be as concerned as I am now. What scares the hell out of me is that they’re doing it for guys like Jennings and Keppinger, who are not exactly All-Stars. While I think the Tejada trade was easily an overpay, at least he’s a former power bat that they just failed to realize was in a decline. It wasn’t a good trade, but at least it was a well-meaning trade. Keppinger for Sutton is just frivolous. If there are five guys you protect, they are Castro, Sutton, Johnson, Norris, and Bogusevic. I don’t get it; I really don’t.

  4. stonebutch99

    The Tejada trade made no sense to me and never will. He was mentioned in the Mitchell report the day before they announced the trade. If you look at his numbers (and I’m sure you have) there was an obvious decline, so the writing should have been on the wall considering he was juicing up. Anyway, I’ll respectfully disagree with you on that one.

    The reason I don’t buy into winning right now is because there are no guarantees, just ask the Yankees. I would prefer that the Astros stop depleting the already weak farm system *especially* for marginal players. That’s my take.

  5. roundrock15

    I don’t want to make it sound like I’m in any way okay with the Tejada trade. I’ve been painfully clear that I think Tejada is the single-biggest reason why this team isn’t competitive. His contract is an albatross around this team’s neck. They can’t make any moves; they’re limited in what players they can sign. Because they have to pay that inflated contract. And giving up five guys, including Patton, to get a player steeped in an obvious decline was a big mistake.

    My only point is that, though it was a bad move, it wasn’t comparable to, say, Jason Jennings. Jennings was known to be injured. At least with Tejada, the guy played 162 games every year and brought some offensive stability to shortstop, which the Astros have lacked for a long, long time.

    At least there was potential with Tejada. I think it was a mistake, but not a HUGE one. I’d put it on par with signing Woody Williams to a free agent contract. And I’m 100% with you on Sutton. Keppinger is not enough of an upgrade to the current roster to buy more than 2-3 wins, and his contract is up after this season. We give up a guy in Sutton who comes under team control, and who has the potential to be very good. At least as good as Kepp, and for much longer.

  6. stonebutch99

    WHEW! I’m glad we are on the same page.

    Jennings was a painful one for sure. I would like to stop being haunted by these painful trades, etc. I guess the Valverde trade was o.k. Of course, that was done because of the Lidge trade (which stunk all the way around.) I know Lidge needed to go, because it was apparent that he was never going to be Lights out Lidge for the Astros again. I saw him come in for a save, and they would crank up this heavy metal rock song (it was annoying or maybe I’m getting old) with all this “Lights out Lidge” graphics flashing on the screen. It was too much. He lost it that year, and I’m not saying that had anything to do with it, but it was way over the top. In retrospect, maybe some Barry Manilow would have been more appropriate. 😉 I don’t want to sound like I hate Lidge, I just hated the situation. He was an Astro and doing great. He loses his edge, and then it’s tough to get any real talent for him in the trade. He moves on to Philly and comes in to close the clinching game of the World Series. That hurts me. Some people are SO happy for him, but I’m not wired that way.

    Oh, and that Woody signing? Two years for like 12 mill right? Then you cut him loose after one? Ahhh, but you still get to fork over the funds.

    Ok, I feel better now. 😉

  7. hooksfan

    Drew Sutton had a stellar 2008 with the Corpus Christi Hooks. It does sadden me to see him be traded but the Astros are doing what they think is best. Only time will tell if it will come back to haunt them. I remember the trade that the Minnesota Vikings did to get Herschel Walker, boy was that trade a painful one and it hurt the Viking organization for years. I have done a new update on the Hooks series against the Naturals with the video of the Esposito/Parraz incident.

  8. danyah

    Splitting hairs here (because I do agree with everything y’all have said about Tejada), but the trade for Tejada was actually announced the day BEFORE the Mitchell report came out–remember Drayton, et. al., saying they had “no idea” Tejada would be mentioned? I think that episode more than anything diminished the credibility of our front office–not just with the fans, but with other clubs’ management as well–because it made our front office look inept at best and unintelligent at worst.

  9. Cockroach

    Totally agree. I do think the Astros needed a guy like Keppinger, but why Sutton? It had been rumored that he was originally being offered, then got pulled back and the deal was done for “a player to be named or cash,” so I have a hard time believing or understanding that Cincinnati wouldn’t accept anyone else. Or cash! I’d have traded Manzella, or Maysonet, or a lot of other guys… even J.R. Towles might have made sense. But not any of the five “untouchables” you mention above, including Drew Sutton. It’s a great trade for the Reds even if Sutton doesn’t pan out; it’s a gamble at best for Houston. I’m glad that Keppinger is on our club, but I don’t like the cost.

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