Let me go on record as a big supporter of this trade. The Astros acquired Baltimore Orioles All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada for Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Troy Patton, Luke Scott and Michael Costanzo. First I’ll tell you what we got. Tejada is only 31 years old and hit 18 homers and 81 RBIs last year in only 133 games. Before that, he was an extremely reliable shortstop who played in nearly every inning of every game over his 11-year career.  He hit .287 with 258 homers and 1,033 RBIs and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do that for the Astros (at $16 million per year). While it is a defensive downgrade at shortstop over Adam Everett (who will be a free agent by tomorrow and who missed most of last season) the addition of Matsui at second base (a vast upgrade over Biggio last year) makes the Astros’ defense up the middle a far cry better then last year. Now for what we lost… Costanzo may turn out to be a decent hitter but not any time soon. Sarfate pitched well in a very brief time last season, but to say he’s a can’t-miss prospect and was going to be a big part of the bullpen was a reach. He might not have amounted to anything, which is the conclusion the Brewers reached when they traded him last season. Scott was trade bait after they acquired Bourn anyway, so losing him was part of the plan. Albers has been inconsistent at best. Losing Patton hurts but all good trades should hurt a little. He may turn out to be a good pitcher but he ended last season with an arm injury and his velocity was way down.

The bottom line is that the Astros’ starting rotation stinks. It currently is among the worst in baseball. After Roy Oswalt (one of the best in the business) there are a bunch of 4th and 5th starter types. I’m not down on Backe but it remains to be seen if he has the stuff of a quality #2 or #3 guy. The free agent market this year for pitching is pretty bleak and frankly the Astros don’t have much to offer. No way they have the minor league talent to get in on the likes of a Johann Santana (without giving up Hunter Pence). So, if you know your pitching sucks and isn’t likely to improve drastically then you better plan on scoring more runs then your opponents. That has been the Achilles heel of this team in the past. Not after this trade. The Astros (on paper) appear to now have the most potent offence in the division with the possible exception of Milwaukee.  Ed Wade announced the starting lineup earlier today (bad move in my opinion…should be the manager’s role) with one strange positioning. He has Matsui batting in the 2 hole with Pence at #6.  WHAT??? Why would you put Matsui in a slot that is going to come up 50-60 times more over the course of the season then Pence’s slot.  My dream lineup:

  1. Bourn .277
  2. Pence .322
  3. Berkman .300 (career)
  4. Lee .303
  5. Tejada .296
  6. Matsui .288
  7. Wigginton/Loretta .278/.287
  8. Towells .375 (limited ABs)
  9. Pitcher

This lineup will be impossible to pitch around.  Combine that with the friendly confines of Minute Maid park and the offense looks great at this point…Anyway, I can’t wait for the season….March 31st is coming fast!


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