|Astros helping spur several pennant races||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on July 27, 2012
Though the team got off to a decent start, the season has unraveled, leading the Astros to a firesale. After trading Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins, Houston made three other significant trades over the last few days that may help the respective recipients make a playoff push.
Photo by Steve Paluch, used under creative commons license.
In a 10-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Astros sent promising lefty starter J.A. Happ and reliever Brandon Lyon across the border for Ben Francisco and Francisco Cordero (other minor leaguers were involved in the deal).
The Blue Jays have been hovering around the .500 mark all season but find themselves in last place in the division. While the Yankees are running away with the AL East, Toronto still factors into the wild card race, especially now that there are two wild card spots.
Happ was given many chances in Houston, but he never could find his rhythm. With Kyle Drabek, Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch all on the disabled list, the Blue Jays sought help from Happ.
Just based on the number of teams they are chasing even in the wild card race, the playoffs would be a long shot for the boys from Canada.
The Astros then sent closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox for two minor league pitching prospects. Myers will assume a setup role on the South Side in front of rookie closer Addison Reed.
Myers was arguably one of the game’s top relievers the first two months of the season. However, he’s come back to earth recently. His numbers are skewed to reflect his early-season performance.
He will provide insurance at closer to the young Reed, who has 16 saves and a 4.00-plus ERA. Myers joins Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain as the only veterans in a bullpen that includes four rookies.
The White Sox are locked in a dogfight in the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers. Chicago has certainly overachieved this season and will need to remain consistent to keep up with the star-studded Detroit roster featuring Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
Myers will provide late-game stability to a team trying to make a valiant playoff push for first-year manager Robin Ventura.
In addition to the Blue Jays and White Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates gave the Astros a call about a trade. In a surprising move, Houston sent lefty ace Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh for three prospects.
The Pirates have a chance for their first winning season in 19 years, so it appears they are going all in. They’re trailing the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central but are the leaders in the wild card race.
Rodriguez will join a pitching rotation that includes James McDonald, a rejuvenated A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard and Jeff Karstens, with Kevin Correia being removed as a starter.
Not only is this a move for down the stretch, but the Pirates also will likely have Rodriguez under team control for the next two seasons. This move shows the Pirates are serious right now and beyond.
Don’t be surprised if the Astros pull the trigger on another few trades as the rebuilding phase continues in full swing. The Blue Jays, White Sox and Pirates certainly hope the former Astros will help their clubs reach the postseason.