PN Writer’s Roundtable: Houston Astros

OK, for now, I’ll call this Writer’s Roundtable.  It’s kind of cliche and corny, so if you have a better title for what we can call this little thing we’re going to do, please feel free to leave it in the comment section.  Anyway, the premise of this will be to address a question for the team the Phillies will face in the upcoming series.  We likely will not do it every series, but keep an eye out. This weekend, it’s the Houston Astros, a team filled with ex-Phillies.  What do our writers think about them – find out for yourself below:

QUESTION: With the Phillies in Houston for a 3-game weekend series, we get to see a few ex-Phillies.  By bringing in those ex-players, did Ed Wade make good baseball moves?

Nick Staskin: “While it maybe a running joke in Philadelphia blogs, tweets and media, the players Ed Wade brough in for the money and the contracts that were signed were good moves. Brett Myers on a 1-yr deal for $5 million is a low-risk high reward contract for a team that has major pitching issues. Pedro Feliz on a 1-yr deal for $4.5 million, brings in a solid glove to anchor the hot corner on a team that has other people to pick up the slack that his bat might bring. Jason Michaels is what he is, just a guy who will sit on the bench.

The Brad Lidge trade is simply a beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder question. What Michael Bourn brings to the Astros on the basepaths was certainly more than Brad Lidge brought to the Phillies last year. But we all know 2008 was a different story.”

Paul Boye: “Given the vacuum that is Houston’s minor league system, one-year patch jobs were a necessity. The Astros were dreadful, ranking in the NL’s bottom four in runs, doubles, walks, strikeouts and on-base percentage, as well as ERA and hits, runs and homers allowed. The team combined for about 12 wins above replacement, or less than what Chase Utley and Ryan Howard produced on their own last season. They needed help, and they sure weren’t one big free agent signing away from being a contender, even in the NL Central.

So for Wade to pick up Myers and Feliz on one-year deals at a relatively cheap price, yes it does make some sense. The big picture, though, is that signing these two players is like trying to put makeup on scar tissue. You can only pretty it up so much; the gnarled bottom layer doesn’t disappear.

In terms of fielding a competitive team for 2010, Ed Wade succeeded in a way. The Astros won’t lose 100 games, but their problems are deep-seated and are not going away just because of these signings.”

Michael Baumann: “Can a brother get a “hell no?” There was no bigger Brett Myers fan during the Hitman’s tenure here than me, but by the end of his time in Philly he had gone from a guy you could stretch into the second spot of the rotation to a league-average pitcher with injury and attitude troubles. Now, he’s still only 29, and he can still play some, but Myers would be far more useful as a back-end starter on a contender than trying to prop up the Astros’ rotation. Then there’s Michael Bourn and Pedro Feliz, who both have useful qualities, but neither one can do the most important job of an everyday position player: create runs.

Essentially, Ed Wade inherited a team with a slew of bad contracts and an aging core and instead of blowing up the works and starting over, investing in scouting and draft budgets, he handed out more bad contracts to more aging players. The Astros have one, count ’em, one decent position player under 30, no spare cash, no tradeable assets, and very few prospects to speak of. I wasn’t sure this was possible, but Ed Wade seems to have mismanaged this team even more spectacularly than he did the Phillies.”

My Take: “Ed Wade was desperate, had major holes to fill, and did so as cheaply as possible.  No one is mistaking this for a playoff team any time soon, so why not grab players out of the Phillies grab bag.  They are, after all, the two-time NL Champs. So, in that regard, it doesn’t hurt.  However, the ‘Stros have some work to do and Myers, Feliz, and Michaels are all on the downside of their respective careers.”

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