Well, You KNEW I was gonna comment on this…

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.)

Big Red.jpgWithout 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
In other words, if there’s any justice in this world at all, we may see Big Red emerge from Round Rock to his rightful place: As the starting catcher of the Houston Astros.

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.

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7 comments

  1. astrosfaninexile

    As soon as I saw the Pudge announcement, I tweeted to Guru Alyson and asked, So what does this MEAN? Her response:

    alysonfooter@AstrosFanInXile – It means they got some young players into the system, which is a good thing. Pudge wasn’t lighting the world on fire here.

    Of course, I meant, does this mean that the Astros are deconstructing and retooling for next year. That’s how Roy O apparently read the move, from his comments.

    If we’d seen a corresponding move with Tejada, I’d believe that too. But his bad timing for a slump doesn’t help with that…

    As for the numbers, I am more interested in whether a catcher calls a good game (especially for our ragtag rotation), has a good arm, and better brain, than whether he can hit. (So yeah, I LOVED Ausmus. Who, by the way, is hitting .312 as a backup. But I’m sure that the Dodgers are getting more than that by having him in their clubhouse/dugout this year.)

    I’m hoping Towles can still come through – what other Astros player has ever done a handstand on home plate?

  2. renaudtn

    I like Towles’ OBP.
    Castro won’t be called up because he’s playing with team USA in the world cup.
    I like the trade BTW…a lot. I don’t care what we get in return; that was a smart move.
    According to a Dallas newspaper, the Rangers are also paying for a portion of Pudge’s contract…so it’s even sweeter. We need to trade Valverde now. When it comes to issuing a lot of walks in the 9th, we don’t need to pay someone 8.5$ millions for that; someone cheaper can do the job just as well. : )

  3. roundrock15

    The notion of “calling a great game” is a wonderful one, and I’d love to embrace it. But there’s been no definitive measure found for it yet. cERA is inconsistent, and doesn’t hold out from one year to the next. I could show you examples from every game where Pudge called lousy pitches, but I can do that for anyone. His arm has been tested and beaten, just as much as his bat. It was high time to move on. Good “catch,” renaudtn, I’d forgotten Castro was going to Team USA. And I was very much in favor of trading Valverde, but what “buyer” was going to give us anything for him?

  4. carolmwl

    I think Houston will come to really like Chris Coste.

    Do they know down there that he was a huge fan favorite in Philly?

    His face is next to ‘hard-working guy’ in the dictionary. Well, or it should be. He has scratched his way to the majors and you can see in his face how much every at bat means to him.

    I went to Barnes&Noble the night he had his book signing near me. The place was jammed…overcrowded….overflowing…with people who wanted him to sign his book for them. I waited almost 3 hours for my turn in line, and I had gotten there early to get, so I thought, an early number.

    Like I said, he was loved here. We hated to see him go.

    Let me know how Houston takes to him, ok?
    Carol MLBlogs.com How ‘Bout Those Phils?

  5. matttan7

    Something must’ve happened because Ivan Rodriguez went out. I think Chris Coste is the better catcher for the Astros. I think the ‘stros are going to make a big push come September without I-Rod.

    Matthew Tang
    http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

  6. renaudtn

    Well, you never know…The Rangers traded two (3…hopefully) for Pudge (I’m still scratching my head why). So I’m hoping there’s someone out there who may find Valverde interesting…say…the Angels?? I don’t really know that team so I’m not sure if they have a closer.

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