In a move that should herald the end of the Cardinals playoff hopes, St. Louis traded for Houston third baseman Pedro Feliz. The Cards gave up 25-year old right-handed pitcher David Carpenter (no relation to their ace starter), who recently converted from catching.
Feliz, 35, had been replaced in the Astros starting lineup since late June by Chris Johnson. Feliz was signed to a one-year, $4 million contract last winter in an effort to shore up the Astros infield defense. Johnson pushed Feliz all through spring training and forced the Astros to carry them both on the Opening Day roster after Lance Berkman started on the 15-day disabled list. Feliz started the majority of the games at third base, but hit just .250 in April and .179 in May. He finished his five-month stint in Houston with a batting line of .221/.243/.311 in 304 plate appearances.
Known for his excellent glove work, Feliz struggled in the field for Houston, committing eight errors in 63 games and turning a career-low 13 double plays. He also started 15 games at first base, adding three more errors in those games.
The move was sparked by the Astros activating shortstop Tommy Manzella from the disabled list. Manzella had been out since early July after breaking a bone in his hand. The Astros replaced him with Angel Sanchez and the latter did so well that the Astros wanted to hold onto both shortstops. That put the team into a roster crunch that meant either Feliz or utility man Geoff Blum would need to be traded or released. It was reported earlier in the week by MLB Trade Rumors that Blum had cleared waivers and that the Cardinals had expressed interest in the 37-year old. Instead, GM Ed Wade turned Feliz into yet another relief prospect.
There are national writers who will think this is a good deal for the Cardinals, because Feliz couldn't really be this bad. Anyone who's watched him this season in Houston knows just how much his defense has regressed, though, leaving him with little actual value. He's probably not as bad as his -1.5 Wins Above Replacement suggests, but he is not the missing piece for St. Louis. For once, the Astros got to take advantage of another team's desperation. Since I expected Feliz to be given his outright release, I'm pleasantly surprised Houston got actual value for him.