Post-Deadline Grades

Most analysts grade the Astros as losers or no grade for getting only meager returns at the deadline. Ken Rosenthal thinks there still may be hope for Lamb, Loretta and Jennings to pass thru waivers.

3. Astros

The ultimate tweeners, thanks to owner Drayton McLane, who never wants to concede.

McLane’s position is semi-understandable, seeing as how he signed left fielder Carlos Lee for $100 million, first baseman Lance Berkman for $85 million and right-hander Roy Oswalt for $73 million.

Still, the Astros needed to do more than just trade reliever Dan Wheeler for third baseman Ty Wigginton and Ensberg to the Padres for a player to be named or cash.

It would have made sense to trade closer Brad Lidge rather than pay him $8 million or more in his final year of arbitration, then potentially lose him as a free agent.

The Astros need to stockpile more young talent, and potential August deals involving players such as right-hander Jason Jennings, infielder Mark Loretta and third baseman Mike Lamb won’t bring enough.

Assuming Lidge continues his resurgence, it might be smart, as part of a larger plan, to sign him to an extension covering next year and 2 to 3 following. He can be a free agent after next year, but if he’s signed and since we’re likely to be in the same boat at this time next year he’d be a valuable commodity with a longer deal.

I’ve also seen several criticisms of the Astros for not being as involved in the foreign markets (basically Japan). I don’t know if anyone can really compete over there but the big-money teams and Seattle right now though. It seems like we used to have an edge in Latin America, especially Venezuela, but I don’t know if that’s true any more. I blame Hugo Chavez.

In the damning with faint praise department, at least someone at Baseball Prospectus found the Wheeler-Wigginton deal defensible, albeit hardly earth-shattering. (This is the only report I’ve seen that rated Wigginton’s glove higher than Ensberg’s).

Balancing a mediocre lineup made worse by Hunter Pence’s absence against their increasingly desperate ambitions, the Astros dealt from depth to address one source of annoyance, if something less than a full-fledged problem. Losing faith in Ensberg has seemed like only a few consecutive oh-fers away, but the timing of the decision to cut bait and be done with him and bring in Ty Wigginton seems particularly strange. Ensberg’s actually been hitting well of late (.319/.373/.447 in July), but it’s as if the belated recognition that Craig Biggio wasn’t helping them alerted them to the virtues of vigilance against crummy performance in other places. Since Ensberg’s had a grim year, since he’s already 31, and since he’d only be back in arbitration next winter anyway, Tim Purpura pulled the plug and brought in a better defensive player with pronounced pull-power tendencies tailor-made for Crawford Box glory. They’ll have the same choice to make with Wigginton this winter, and if he helps get them somewhere in the next two months, it would be a more defensible choice than going to the mat with Ensberg would have been.

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