Monday, December 11, 2006

If you missed my rundown of free-agent starting pitchers the Astros should target, scroll on down to check it out. My mind's been rambling this Monday, so I decided to investigate possible trades the Astros might be looking to work out. There are quite a few teams with a plethora of pitchers — the Dodgers, Phillies, White Sox, Pittsburgh and Florida. We should definitely explore our options with these teams to see who's available and for what price.

Let's keep in mind, though, that Jason Hirsh is penciled into our rotation for 2007. To trade him for a starting pitcher practically negates our objective of solidifying the rotation. Our trade candidates are few and — to be honest — not too great. Taveras, Burke, Ensberg, Lidge, Wheeler, Buchholz and Scott should be on the table. Hirsh, Pence and Patton should not.

Rumors have been circulating about Colorado's Jason Jennings. The Rockies tried but failed to sign him to an extension, so they're supposedly focusing on trading him. Jennings had a remarkable campaign last year, but let us not forget about his past three years and his 5.00+ ERAs. He was finally able to find his command and lower his walk totals. Away from Coors, he's put up a 4.37 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in his career. Not exactly stellar. Let's not put him on a pedestal before we trade for him. In other words, just because we're desperate for starters doesn't mean we should cough up Hirsh or Wheeler.

The Dodgers are allegedly shopping Brad Penny after acquiring Jason Schmidt. Penny is a quality starter when he's healthy, but he's a regular on the disabled list. He came out of the gates smoking and started the All-Star Game in July, only to post a 6+ ERA over the second half of the season. Penny will make $7.5 million in 2007 and $8.5 million 2008, with a club option for $8.75 million in 2009 or a $2 million buyout. The Dodgers don't appear to have many needs at starting positions; they're probably going with Wilson Betemit as their full-time thirdbaseman to start the year. They could use relief help or prospects. Maybe Dan Wheeler and Buchholz could be a starting block.

The Phillies are overloaded with starters. They have Myers, Moyer, Lieber, Hamels, Garcia and Eaton. They're probably shopping Lieber and Myers. Lieber will make $7.5 million in 2007; Myers made $3.3 million in 2006 and will be a free agent after 2008. The Phillies are also shopping Pat Burrell, but now that we have Lee, I don't think we'll be interested. They appear to need a right-fielder, but Jason Lane is not exactly a hot commodity. It' possible they would be interested in swapping centerfielders, and that's something I think is worth pursuing. Lane-Taveras-Nieve for Lieber-Rowand would be interesting.

Would the Mets be willing to part with Aaron Heilman for Chris Burke? They need a right-handed-hitting secondbaseman, and Heilman has expressed interest in starting. That could be a very interesting target. I seriously hope we inquire about this.

Florida is rich in young talent, and Willy Taveras somehow impresses them. I'd deal for Josh Johnson or Scott Olsen. Of course, if we wanted Dontrelle Willis, we'd have to pay the price.

Pittsburgh, like Florida, has the young studs, and appears willing to deal them. Paul Maholm's name has surfaced, and Zach Duke would be an interesting target. They're looking for a left-handed right-fielder or firstbaseman, so perhaps Luke Scott would be a good fit?

Cleveland would appear to have its rotation set with Sabathia-Lee-Westbrook-Byrd-Sowers, but they may try to test the trade waters to see what they can get. After getting Borowski and Hernandez, their bullpen might be set, but maybe Lidge would interest them. They allegedly offered Westbrook for Lidge this offseason, and it would be interesting to see where those discussion lead.

Baltimore probably wants to rid itself of Rodrigo Lopez, and they probably don't want a whole lot. Would a prospect get it done?

Oakland has dangled their starters Blanton, Haren and Harden, and Billy Beane loves Chris Burke. He's no dummy, though. If Harden's healthy, could we get him for Burke and Lidge?

I don't think there's much truth behind the Peavy rumors, but it's worth investigating. They want a righty secondbaseman to pair with Todd Walker, and they could use an outfielder or a thirdbaseman, depending on how they view this Kouzmanoff guy. But c'mon... it's Peavy.

Washington's John Patterson is a stud if he's healthy, but the Natties are looking to add pitching depth, not deal it. They could use a corner outfielder, but I don't think we have what it takes.

The Angels' John Lackey would make sense. But is he worth trading away Ensberg?

Of course, the Garland deal could always be revisited, but hopefully Hirsh will be off-limits.

Good deal. Let's get trading...

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