The seemingly impossible happened yesterday, as the Astros front office found a moment of competence and finally found a way to trade Roy Oswalt.
Of course, this being the Astros' front office, Oswalt ended up with the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal about as surprising as Gary Kubiak hooking up with the Denver Broncos for failed running backs.
The original deal saw the Astros rid themselves of Oswalt and $11 million in exchange for left-handed starter J.A. Happ, A-level minor league centerfielder Anthony Gose, and A-level minor league shortstop Jonathan Villar. About an hour or so later, the Astros flipped Gose to the Toronto Blue Jays for AAA-level first baseman Brett Wallace.
The original deal made it appear as if the Astros were fleeced.
Happ, who will be 28 in October, has spent only one complete season in the majors, the 2009 season in which he went 12-4 in 23 starts for the Phillies. He has spent most of this season on the disabled list with a forearm strain, but will be starting for the Astros tonight.
He appears to be a good middle of the rotation guy who relies on guile rather than speed, but being as this is the Astros, he immediately becomes one of the top guys in the rotation.
Villar is one of those great glove, great range, no-bat guys who likes to swing at the first pitch and doesn't care for that thing called the base on balls. But he's young, and he's got really good speed and is a terror on the base paths, once he gets on base.
Gose promised to be another version of Michael Bourn - great tools, great speed, not so hot bat. And all of that, coupled with the Astros throwing in a ton of cash, made it look like Wade got taken as an idiot yet again.
But then Wade flipped Gose to Toronto for Wallace. Wallace has been a much-traveled player in the past year, but traveled in the best way as he's been the lynchpin player in several key trades the past year.
Wallace was the first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. The Cardinals traded him to Oakland last year in a deadline deal for stud outfielder Matt Holliday. Oakland traded him the offseason to Toronto as part of the three-team deal that saw Roy Halladay wind up in Philadelphia.
So far this season, Wallace is hitting .301 with 18 homers, 24 doubles, 116 hits, and 61 RBI in AAA. He's got a .509 slugging percentage and a .359 on-base percentage. And though he's on his way to Round Rock, it's clear that Wallace is the guy who just got anointed as Lance Berkman's replacement.
The deal has put Berkman on the trade market, and there are some interested teams. Berkman has stated that he will consider waiving his no-trade for the right team, but there's still a lot of work to be done before 3:00 central tomorrow to make this happen.
The problem, despite this, is that the Astros still appear to have no real plan in place for the future. They have said that Brett Myers is off of the market, despite the fact that he might never bring a higher haul in prospects.
And it's just really bothersome that the only team the Astros appeared to have serious talks with were the Phillies.
Throughout the process, reports from teams that the Astros were being unrealistic.
There was talk of the Astros demanding players already on the roster, three minor leaguers, and not getting any money from the Astros to offset Oswalt's contract. Teams with deeper farm systems than the Phillies - the Rangers, Dodgers, Twins, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees - all talked about the Astros asking for way too much.
So it would be interesting to see just what the Astros could have got if some of those teams got to work within the same parameters of the Phillies.
(Seeing the response the Astros came out with immediately after the trade, it was obvious the Astros feared this response as they went out of the way to fault Oswalt's supposedly outrageous demands and congratulating Wade on his genius.)
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Ultimately, it's going to take awhile for the full results of this trade to be known. It doesn't look like it's going to help revitalize the franchise, not like when Bill Wood robbed the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox in 1990.
And it's doubtful that at J.A. Happ is suddenly going to become a great pitcher, but the hope is going to be with Brett Wallace.
He's supposedly not much of a fielder, but if he can hit big-league pitching, always a big if, if Chris Johnson continues to hit major league pitching, if Jason Castro can learn to hit major league pitching, and if Jeff Bagwell can knock some sense into Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, then there is some hope.
Not for next year. Not for 2012 probably. But maybe, maybe for 2013.