June 25, 2004

But does he know the words to Proud to be an Astro?

Well, the first shoe has dropped. Carlos Beltran, the best player likely to be available this year, has been shipped to Houston in a 3-way deal. The Astros sent closer Octavio Dotel to the Athletics, who sent touted third base prospect Mark Teahen and pitcher Mike Wood to the Royals, who also picked up catching prospect John Buck from the Astros. This is a terrific trade for the A’s and Astros, less so for the Royals.

The Astros get Beltran, a MVP-caliber bat at a premier defensive position, and one that was a glaring weakness for them. He will slot into center, move Biggio to left and Berkman to right. The middle of their line-up, Beltran-Bagwell-Kent-Berkman or some variation thereof, is as good as you’ll find in the NL. The risk is obvious though: Houston only has Beltran for the rest of the season, when he’ll be available to anyone as a free agent. It’s dubious that Drayton McLane will be willing to pay the astronomical amount necessary to keep him around. This also strips them of their closer, but that’s less important than it seems. Brad Lidge has been on the verge of taking Dotel’s job for over a month now, and quality relievers are always available at the deadline. If Bill Bavasi is smart, a somewhat dubious assumption, he will get on the phone and start hawking Steady Eddie to the Astros right now.

For the Athletics, this is just another move that solidifies Billy Beane as the master of the mid-season trade. The A’s bolster their bullpen for what amounts to spare parts. Dotel could close, and shove Rhodes down to set-up with Chad Bradford. It’s a vastly improved situation, and for relatively little. Teahen was never going to play long-term for Oakland after Eric Chavez re-signed, and Wood just isn’t good enough to beat our the current rotation.

The Royals did okay with this trade. Baird was insistent on getting a third basemen and a catcher in return, and the pair he got was certainly better than what the Yankees were offering. It’s puzzling though, after such a disastrous history with Beane, that Baird would make another deal with him. This isn’t nearly as awful as the Jermaine Dye or Johnny Damon trades, but if it goes badly he’s liable to get more blame than he would if Oakland weren’t involved. The prospects he picked up are okay, but I don’t think they qualify as special players. Teahen, a member of the ballyhooed Moneyball draft, is the best of the lot. Adequate defensively, he has good patient and developing power. He does rate as a distant third amongst 3B prospects behind Dallas MacPherson of Anaheim and David Wright of New York. Buck was a premier prospect a couple years ago, but has declined to the point where most scouts doubt he will be a major league starter. Wood is 5th starter- long relief guy, nothing more.

Now that Beltran is off the board, Freddy Garcia is the best name out there. I’m still against trading Freddy, but it seems immanent anyway. Expect a lot of action the next few days. I’m worried the M’s will settle for the Dioner Navarro/Robinson Cano deal. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’d do that for Moyer, but not a young pitcher Freddy’s caliber

Posted by Frinklin at June 25, 2004 07:30 PM

Something that a lot of people are ignoring is the fact that Dotel is arbitration-eligible this year, so he's just as much of a "rent-a-player" as is Beltran. Beane is never going to give a closer the kind of money he would command in arbitration, so he will be shipped-out this off-season. Of course, knowing Beane, he’ll end up spinning another Foulke for Koch type deal…

Posted by: Richard at June 25, 2004 11:11 PM

Proud to Be an Astro! Now you're talking. I wonder if Larry Dierker taught his charges the song when he was manager. Of course, in addition to explaining about the song, he'd have to explain about Proud to Be a Soldier. I trust you are familiar with the great Tom Lehrer, right, Frinklin?

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at June 26, 2004 09:33 AM
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