August marches on, and it seems like we’ve been playing the Marlins for the last three and a half years. And as the Houston Astros drop a few series to fall behind the Milwaukee Brewers, possibly for good, I was desperate for good news.
Bud Norris earned his first loss. Nope, not good news.
Wandy Rodriguez threw quite possibly his worst outing of the season. Nope.
Yorman Bazardo is set to make his debut as an Astros starter. Maaaaybeee….
Wait. Nope. Here it is. The Houston Astros have agreed to a trade with the Texas Rangers, sending Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez to Arlington for 6’5″ right-hander Matthew Nevarez and second baseman Jose Vallejo, provided he clears waivers (and at .245/.290/.316 between Double- and Triple-A, it’s hard to imagine he won’t). The word is that there may be a third player coming to Houston in the deal if the Rangers make the playoffs, so… er… go Rangers!
I wasn’t shy about how I felt regarding Rodriguez’s tenure with the Astros. Even at the discount price of a million dollars, I felt it was a silly move – sideways at best. I thought J.R. Towles deserved a chance to show that 2008 was a fluke, and he had simply been rushed into the job. Rodriguez came through with a pathetic .251/.280/.382 line, and will serve as a backup to the Rangers’ Taylor Teagarden moving forward into the season.
For the Rangers, who entered the season with Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Max Ramirez making up a logjam at catcher, it makes for a very interesting move. But I don’t care about them; what does it mean for the Astros?
Well, with the free agent acquisition of Chris Coste (.222/.288/.296 as an Astro), another light-hitting backstop, it could mean a battery involving him and Humberto Quintero (.238/.292/.324). Or it could signal a possible call-up for either Towles (.287/.400/.457 in Triple-A Round Rock) or for last year’s #10-overall draft pick, Jason Castro (.299/.363/.387 in Double-A Corpus Christi.)
Without knowing the Astros’ plans for the battery, it’s hard to evaluate what this does to the organization – a Towles promotion seems likely, and in my opinion the most prudent move possible… one that should have been made before the season began.
Using Minor League Splits, I was able to determine the MLEs of Castro and Towles, compared to the trio of catchers the Astros have employed on the active roster this season:
I. Rodriguez: .251/.280/.382
C. Coste: .222/.288/.296
H. Quintero: .238/.292/.324
J. Towles: .232/.325/.359
J. Castro: .216/.272/.309
So how does this look in terms of the prospects we received? Well, it’s nearly impossible to judge a prospect-for-veteran deal immediately; but right away, it’s easy to see that a farm system in desperate need of rebuilding will benefit from having two 22-year-olds – and possibly a third guy.
Vallejo doesn’t exactly set off any fire alarms, but Nevarez has looked awfully good in Single-A Hickory this season: 1-4, with a 2.83 ERA, a 1.057 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts to 15 walks in 35 innings pitched. He’s twenty-two, which fits into the South Atlantic League, and makes a marked difference in an already-formidable Lexington Legends pitching staff.
Early results all look positive for Mr. Wade & Co.
Catching Up On Boone
Twelve plate appearances into his post-heart surgery career, and Aaron Boone appears to be Superman. Only two hits in nine at-bats (a single and a double), but three walks gives him a weighty .222/.417/.333 line in five games at Corpus Christi. He’s played some games at each corner infield spot, and doesn’t appear to have missed a beat in the field, according to local sources.
The fact that he’s even playing baseball right now is more than enough. The idea that he may still prove to be a valuable asset to the 2009 Houston Astros defies the imagination.