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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tim Purpura, Demigod

Due to the incompetence of the Houston local media, all we knew this morning was that the Astros had scheduled a press conference to make a "major announcement." On the radio, speculation was rampant that we had traded for Miguel Tejada, Dontrelle Willis, or Carl Crawford. Instead, we landed Aubrey Huff and $1.6 million, in exchange for AA pitcher Mitch Talbot and shortstop Ben Zobrist.

I can already sense the vast majority of Astros "faithful" foaming at the mouth that (a) most of them haven't the foggiest who Aubrey Huff is--and everybody just knows that only big-name acquisitions can help win championships--and, (b) the trade didn't include local whipping boy The Mole--who is the only problem with this team--and feature a very public humiliation (tarring, feathering, wedgies) of him on his way out of town.

I like this trade. A LOT.

One of the SportsJustice commenters already commented, "Oh, great, we got another Preston Wilson." Well, not exactly. Yes, he's a .283 hitter which--at the moment--is close to Preston Wilson's batting average. (Guess what: .300 hitters don't grow on trees, and teams just don't like giving them up.) But he slugs 40 points better than Skullcap, hits from the left side, strikes out rather infrequently (under 100 K's every season; only once every 7.34 at bats or so), and adds some versatility and a serviceable backup/replacement for the Vortex.

Skullcap, by contrast, has never struck out fewer than 100 times in a full season. He's almost twice as likely as Huff to strike out (K every 3.66 at-bats).

And, while he's a bit of a step down from the Vortex in the field, Huff has played both third base and right field during his career, and his fielding percentage at third (.940) is much better than Lambo's (.920), and only slightly less than the Vortex's (.954). Huff answers the question that I was thinking to myself the other day:

So exactly who is going to play third if Vortex sits or goes down?

Bruntlett? Please. He's fine for off the bench, but not an everyday solution. Lambo? Love his bat, but he's never been known for his defense at third. (He's best at first.) Burke doesn't have the arm for it, and I don't want to waste Never-Hit at third when we need his glove at short.

So Huff gives us the option to sit the Vortex, or send him down. (On a related note, Gar[d]ner announced that Magic Audrey--not Taylor "The Magnet" Buchholz--would be demoted to the bullpen when Backe comes off the DL. Kudos; we're totally on board with that suggestion, having been recommending the same for awhile now. But we still have to demote/release somebody to make room for him on the roster. My guess is that Borkowski gets shown the door, although I'd much rather see The Mole head down to AAA to work on that slider and, hopefully, a changeup.)

More importantly, Timmy P. did not give up all that much in return. That consideration is particularly important inasmuch as Huff looks to be in the last year of a three-year, $14.5M contract, so he's probably just a rental. So what'd we give up?

At AA, Mitch Talbot was 6-4, with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. That's not a HUGE loss. Losing Ben Zobrist (.327/.434/.473) hurts a little more but, let's face it, the Astros had decided (for some unknown reason) that Zobrist--who's 25 already--was not in their longterm shortstop plans; otherwise, he'd be at AAA already. Given that they weren't planning on Zobrist's making a contribution to the big club (although I would at least have liked to see what he could do at AAA), his loss doesn't hurt us that much.

Oh, and we had to DFA Joe McEwing to make room on the 40-man roster. *pause* Uh, I'm okay with that.

So here's how I would like to see our new lineup:
2B The Beege
CF Burke
1B Lambo
RF Fat Elvis
3B Aubrey Huff
LF Skullcap
SS Never-Hit
C Ausmus
I guess I do have to confess to one downside to this trade: It'll be really confusing to have both an Aubrey and an Audrey on the same team. We'll have to come up with a nickname for the newest Astro.


Anonymous Bouj said...

Huff's a contact hitter, unlike Special K. I agree it's a good move.

I wouldn't be so quick to discount Huff as being a rental though. If he plays well (maybe .280-12-40 in the second half), he'll be more valuable to the Astros than Special K. The team has the option on him for next year (at $8 million, which is not happening). If they can get identical/nearly identical production from a contact hitter who can play 4 positions for the same price, I think they'll do what they can to resign him (3 for $24-ish maybe).

4:35 PM  

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