What Is Going On Down In Houston?
Ed Wade
Ed Wade
Posted Jul 29, 2008

The Miguel Tejada to the Boston Red Sox rumors are without merit. According to several sources, the Houston Astros contacted Boston with the intention of adding an experienced reliever to pitch alongside Doug Brocail in the bullpen, not in an attempt to dangle their aging shortstop. Houston is looking to buy at the trade deadline, despite being 12.5 games back in the competitive NL Central.

Not surprisingly, the Miguel Tejada to the Boston Red Sox rumors are without merit. According to several sources, the Houston Astros contacted Boston with the intention of adding an experienced reliever to pitch alongside Doug Brocail to add depth to a mediocre bullpen, not in an attempt to dangle their aging shortstop.

The Tejada rumors seemed baseless from the beginning. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein values players who get on base and do not make outs as frequently as an average player in the league, like a certain middle infielder down in Texas. As good as his defense is, the former Most Valuable Player is no longer a star hitter, as his line of .284/.322/.422 and .743 OPS leave a lot to be desired. He is simply not worth the financial cost alone—even for a team with financial resources like Boston, which looks for value in the market for baseball players—let alone prospects, so the deal would not have happened, anyway.

From the Astros’ perspective, though, they would be wise to try and unload the contract given to Tejada, who is older than they originally expected when they tore apart the minor league system to acquire him from the Baltimore Orioles last offseason. Also, he will likely have to move to third base—where his bat will not play as well—on the backend of the deal, as his range continues to decline.

Ed Wade, however, still sees his team as a legitimate contender.

So it does not come as a surprise that Wade is searching for relief help. After all, he left many within the industry scratching their head last week by trading for veteran southpaw Randy Wolf and the rest of his salary.

At the time of the trade, I wrote this:

The Houston Astros are 46-54, 12 games back in the National League Central, tied for last place with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Making a comeback even more unlikely, Houston is playing in perhaps the toughest division on the Senior Circuit.

Apparently, though, Drayton McLane feels that this team can contend right now, as he signed off a puzzling deal yesterday afternoon.

The Astros shipped Triple-A right-hander Chad Reineke to the San Diego Padres in exchange for aging lefty Randy Wolf, who is making $4,750,000, is on the wrong side of 30 and has been ineffective away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park all season.

Shawn Chacon’s chokehold on Houston general manager Ed Wade appears to have affected his eyesight, because if he honestly feels that the Astros can turn into the ’08 version of the Colorado Rockies, he is blind.

The Chicago Cubs have the best record and run differential in the majors, recently added Rich Harden and have a potent offense. Despite the Milwaukee Brewers’ acquisition of CC Sabathia, Chicago is the clear-cut favorite to win a division title, sitting with the highest chances of reaching the playoffs of any team in the game.

With the recent moves, Milwaukee has dramatically increased its chancing of ending a long postseason drought. Sabathia has energized the Brewers’ clubhouse, in addition to adding a capable ace to anchor the starting rotation alongside Ben Sheets. The club also added veteran second baseman Ray Durham earlier this week, has a solid young core of offensive stars—Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Prince Fielder—and are clearly going for it right now.

The St. Louis Cardinals, two games back, are in the thick of things as well. St. Louis has been a surprise team, as Dave Duncan continues to work his magic with castaway starting pitchers. The Cardinals also have the best hitter in the league, Albert Pujols, a tremendous manager and pitching help coming on the way when ace Chris Carpenter makes his long-awaited return.

Which is why it is puzzling for Wade to act as a buyer at the deadline. Even if Houston was placed in the lowly NL West—where the Arizona Diamondbacks are the only team with a record at .500—today, his roster does not have enough talent to make a realistic run towards the postseason.

With a -61 run differential, the Astros appear to be about five players away from righting the ship, not just one or two, as they rank 23rd in the majors with 4.2 runs scored per game.

Not a lot has changed since the deal went down. Honestly, has Wade opened up the Houston Chronicle or been on the Internet to look at the standings lately?

Houston has won two games in a row to reduce its deficit in the National League Central to 12.5. The Astros’ offense—even with the performance of MVP candidate Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee—ranks in the middle of the pack. The pitching has been shaky as well, combined with a poor team defense that has also played a major factor in the shaky run prevention equation.

With a -56 run differential and three of the better teams in National League this year in the division, Wade should have thrown in the towel for 2008 a long time ago, looking towards the future and helping to replenish a depleted farm system. However, he thinks that his team is destined to turn into the ’08 version of last year’s Colorado Rockies, who defied all conventional wisdom to make it to the World Series.

Someone give the man a V-8.

To reach Tyler Hissey, send an email to TylerHissey@gmail.com.

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