Centerfielder Michael Bourn #21 of the Houston Astros makes a diving catch on a line drive by Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on May 24, 2011 in Houston, Texas. According to reports on July 31, 2011 Bourn has been traded to the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The legend of Ed Wade continues.....
Immediately you knew something was wrong when you saw the name Jordan Schafer included in the deal that has sent Michael Bourn to the Atlanta Braves for the aforementioned outfielder Brett Oberholzer, Juan Abreu and Paul Clemens. Oberholzer is the only win in this deal. He is a decent left-handed pitcher who could be in the Astros opening day rotation next year. But he is not in the same league as Mike Minor or Randall Delgado, and the other two arms have talent but sound more like projects to me than prospects at first glance.
I'm not going to blag and pretend to know more about them than I do, and the usual suspects; Baseball America and Kevin Goldstein will likely have pieces up on them soon enough. One positive on Schafer is that he is 24, and will get another shot at establishing himself at the major leagues. He has speed and a good eye, even if his minor league power has not transferred to the big stage. However, I'm not sure why Wade took him back apart from just letting Atlanta get rid of him. While I'd have Jason Bourgeois in center field right now, he is five years older than Schafer, and should be given a chance to see what he can do out of Atlanta.
I might have accepted a package of J.J. Hoover, Tyler Pastornicky and Oberholtzer, because that makes our club better next year, but we have enough project arms in our system, even though most of them are not hard throwers. Now with this deal and the Keppinger trade we have two guys who could be relievers next year and another two guys to battle for the fifth-starter's spot in the rotation for next year's spring training.
Instead Wade has got his arm twisted by Frank Wren, when it should have been the other way around. He should be saying right now, 'Frank if you don't throw in Mike Minor now, I'm walking away from the negotiations and you can enjoy your Coco Crisp.'
Bourn will fill a position with the sort of defensive brilliance Atlanta has not seen since Andruw Jones' halcyon days with the club, and if they are not total fools, patrolling Turner Field and the top of their lineup card for years to come. I just do not see a scenario where the Astros win this trade. Schafer would have to become a solid major league outfielder, Oberholtzer would have to defy expectations to become a more than a middle-of-the-rotation arm, and we would need solid major league careers from Abreu and Clemens and even then the Braves could still win it.
I can understand the market not understanding the value of Bourn, but Wade really know better. In the poker table that is baseball and the players are all the executives it is pretty clear who the sucker is, and it is Boffo. He would need to shift Myers contract and get something good from the Yankees organisation for Wandy Rodriguez, but let me ask you this: If Wade had to eat money for both Bourn and Pence, how in the hell is he going to shift Rodriguez and Myers' contracts and get anything good back?
How did we have to send cash to Atlanta? He made $4.4m in his penultimate year of arbitration. Now this may start to sound like a bit of a rant, and it is true, in these three deals we have added a lot of depth to a system that badly needed it. And quite a few of these could go quite a ways to helping the Astros at the major league level, if not all of them. That says far far more about the predicament of the franchise than how Wade has done this deadline.
But we needed a home run this deadline, not a bloop double down the line that caromed off the left fielder's glove. What we have done is repaired our farm system, not pulled the future of this franchise around.
Meanwhile as this deadline expires, more people might be tuning in to watch Bourn in Atlanta or Pence in Philadlephia than watch Lucas Harrell in Houston. More's the pity.