Around the trade deadline, there are typically three types of teams making moves:
There are teams trading moderately to low-priced young players for solid veteran players. We call these teams "contenders."
There are teams that are trading veteran players for moderately to low-priced young talent. We call these teams "rebuilding."
There are teams that are so many light-years away from even being relevant that they're trading moderately priced, young, Gold Glove and All-Star talent for nondescript minor leaguers, hoping that one or two of them stick by 2014.
We call these teams "The Astros."
Over the weekend, whatever bit of goodwill Astros General Manager Ed Wade may have had left from the whole "We inherited a terrible mess of a farm system in 2007" excuse was flushed down the drain.
1. Late last week, the Astros finally pulled the trigger on the long-awaited trade of Hunter Pence, as Pence was moved to the Phillies for three minor league players and a player to be named later. The showstopper in the package the Astros got back was Single-A pitcher (and Texas native) Jarred Cosart. The sidekick in the deal was Single-A outfielder/first baseman Jonathan Singleton. The throw-in was Double-A pitcher Josh Zeid.
If Cosart winds up being a frontline, ten-year starter, then the deal would be considered a success, I suppose. I think the frustrating thing for Astros fans is this marks roughly the 450th trade that the Astros have done with the Phillies (or signing of a former Philly) since Wade came to Houston (from, of all places, PHILLY!) in 2007. I seriously think that if the Phillies do one more trade with the Astros, they'll get a free six-inch meatball sub.
2. Once the Astros had established that their only near All-Star caliber players were actually on the trading block, Atlanta swooped in and for a package of four shaky prospects and a gift card for a Double Bypass burger at the Vortex Diner, they acquired Michael Bourn, complete with his multiple gold gloves and really fast legs.
We're not sure how Phillies GM Ruben Amaro feels about Wade dealing with Atlanta, but I'm anxiously awaiting an episode of Cheaters where Joey Greco and Amaro show up at a seedy hotel, bust open the door and find Wade feeding grapes to Atlanta GM Frank Wren while watching Bourn highlights on SpectraVision.
3. Wade punctuated both the Pence and Bourn deals with his signature move -- including a seven-figure check's worth of Drayton McLane's cash stapled to each of the players' shirt.
4. Wade was unable to move left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez to the Yankees, Indians, Blue Jays or any other team -- largely because Wandy's contract, under which he's owed about $40 million over the next three-plus seasons, makes him untradeable. It's worth mentioning that it was Wade who signed Wandy to this deal last off-season, when the goal was to "build for the future." In other news, Ed Wade likes to try to win 5K's by slicing his own Achilles tendons with a Ginsu knife.
5. Last night, starting third baseman Chris Johnson and starting first baseman Brett Wallace were sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City for a little attitude adjustment. Did I mention that Wallace was considered the marquee youngster to come back in last year's deadline trades that sent franchise icons Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman packing? I didn't. Oh, well Wallace was considered the marquee player to come back in last year's deadline trades that sent franchise icons Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman packing. And if that doesn't scare you a little bit about the eight guys they got back for Pence and Bourn, that it's Wade's spidey sense on these players that is driving these deals, then you have no soul.
So the Astros return home from the road trip tonight with the following starting lineup:
1. Luis Durango, CF 2. Jose Altuve, 2B 3. Jason Bourgeois, RF 4. Carlos Lee, 1B 5. J.D. Martinez, LF 6. Clint Barmes, SS 7. Jimmy Paredes, 3B 8. Humberto Quintero, C 9. Bud Norris, P
Four of these players were in the minor leagues ten days ago. FOUR. Jason Bourgeois (and his two career home runs and .674 OPS) is batting third. THIRD. Carlos Lee, your cleanup hitter, is tied for the most home runs (five) hit at Minute Maid Park this season, which sounds great until you realize (a) he is tied in that category with Lance Berkman and (b) Berkman is on the Cardinals.
Basically, as homecomings go, we haven't seen someone come home looking this beat down and haggard since the Chinese decided to give Jack Bauer back to America, and a bearded, tortured Bauer stepped off the plane weighing about 85 pounds with scars that looked like a map of New Jersey on his torso.
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Houston sports is in perhaps its worst collective period since it became a three-sport town a few decades ago. If we're going to see something memorable, it's probably going to come from the Astros and their breakneck sprint toward historic futility.
The Astros need to go 7-47 the rest of the way to have the worst record in major league history (43-119 from the 2003 Tigers). They are appropriately armed (or unarmed, as it were) to make this happen.
Let's do this.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and 1560 The Game from 12-3 CT weekdays, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.