My dream world:
Astros trade Taylor Bucholz to the Phillies for Placido Polanco.
Astros trade Jason Lane to the Mets for Mike Cameron.
Astros trade Brooks Conrad and Luke Scott to the Red Sox for BH Kim.
Ezequiel Astacio starts off in a middle relief role, excels, and becomes the 5th starter when the Astros sell high on Brandon Backe by trading him to the Reds for Austin Kearns.
Look, I know our payroll could never support that, and it seems crazy to trade away all those prospects, but here it is:
Prospects are never, ever, a sure thing, and every player on the right side of those transactions has had success in the major leagues. Bucholz struggled last year; maybe the Phillies want him back. Lane might be pretty good, but he's 28 - his best years might already be behind him. In addition all of the "right hand" guys appear to be undervalued by their current teams. Polanco might be the best overall defensive infielder in baseball, and he puts up a .780 OPS. Mike Cameron slugged .479 with a wrist injury last year and has consistently been one of the best defensive CF's in baseball for the last 5 years. BH Kim is 25 and has averaged over a K / inning for his career. Austin Kearns was a top prospect, put up a .907 OPS his rookie year, and just needs to get healthy.
AND all of these players don't really have a good fit with their current teams - Polanco and Cameron want to be starters at their respective positions, Kim just needs a change of scenery and a regular starting job, and Kearns is in a crowded OF in Cincy.
I have no idea how all of that will work out - Polanco wants to start, but we have Burke / Everett, Cameron might be hurt for the first month (along with Berkman), Kim might piss all the good ol' boys off with the occasional one-finger-salute, and Kearns might be hurt all year, but that's how you win as a general manager - you see what's undervalued, and you go after it. I'm all for rebuilding, but the entire premise of statistical analysis is not OBP and OPS and UZR, it's buying high and selling low, it's looking for market inefficiencies, and that is EXACTLY what Polanco, Cameron, Kim and Kearns are. I'm sure we won't do any of those moves, but I can still dream.