HOUSTON ASTROS - Recent Transactions

Recent Transactions
with analysis by Chris Diem

Current team roster

Mar 24, 2004 - acquired infielder Mike Lamb from the New York Yankees for minor-league pitcher Juan DeLeon.
Chris says: "In a somewhat surprising move, the Astros aquired Mike Lamb from the Yankees for a minor league pitcher. Expected to compete for the Yankees' third base job before his former teammate in Texas took it from him, Lamb is a likely choice for the 6th infield spot. A pretty solid player who bats from the left side, this is as much about the other three candidates for the backup job not cutting it. Lamb can spell Ensberg or Bagwell, leaving Vizcaino to worry about the middle infield spots. Good move by the Stros. "

Jan 12, 2004 - signed pitcher Roger Clemens to a one-year contract.
Chris says: "Are you kidding me?? Drayton McLane swipes Andy Pettite from the Yankees, then a month later, grabs Roger Clemens! Clemens and his 6 Cy Youngs and 310 career wins will be toeing the mound at Minute Made Park, and like every other diehard fan, I hope this is the last piece to the championship puzzle. Even at Age 42, Clemens' 17-9 2003 mark would have led the Astros, and his pure talent, experience, work ethic, and tough mentality will be invaluable to the whole club. Clemens is just shy of several marks, including the second spot on the strikeout list (38 to go), which he should reach by May, and can see the top 10 on the win list is the close distance. This is an amazing move, and no matter how the 5th spot shakes out (my preference is Redding with Hernandez being brought back to the majors in the pen and Robertson being dealt), the front 4 of Oswalt, Pettitte, Clemens, and Miller is the best in the business. If the top of the rotations hit, the Astros-Cubs match ups could be amazing. And if the top spots do hit, I'll take Pettite, Clemens, and Oswalt into battle any day of the week.

I personally do not see John Valentin doing much for the Astros in 2004, but I hope I'm wrong. Valentin missed the 2003 season with an injury, but looked recovered during winter ball. A college teammate of Craig Biggio, Valentin has experience at everyone infield position and could fill the role left by Geoff Blum. I believe he comes into camp with a 50/50 shot at making the club, with his main competition being Eric Bruntlett. "

Dec 11, 2003 - signed pitcher Andy Pettite to a 3-year contract.
Chris says: "The Astros made an incredible splash today, bringing home Andy Pettitte with a 3 year, $31 million dollar deal. The Astros had no business getting into a bidding war with the Yankees, but in Pettitte, they found a family man who wanted to be near his family. And oh yeah, hes already got plenty of rings. Pettitte has more wins than any pitcher in the post season, and along with that, has more wins than Astros as a team in the playoffs. Andy will likely be put at the top of the rotation, but along with Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller, fans could realistically expect 60 wins out of the trio. Along with Tim Redding and possibly Carlos Hernandez, and the Astros have a formidable rotation. Welcome home Andy, and Drayton, thank you! "

Nov 20, 2003 - signed Dan Miceli, Jose Vizcaino and Brad Ausmus .
Chris says: "Dan Miceli seemed to find a home in Houston last year after being a nomad for the first half of the season, and it paid off in his performance. He was a solid middle guy for the Stros last year, and having a veteran to come in in the 6th or 7th is a great thing to have. Good move.

I really thought the Astros would let Jose Vizcaino go this off season, but he'll be back for his 4th season. I like Vizcaino- he's a clutch hitter, plays solid D, and is an overall excellent utlity player. He'll play any spot on the infield, and coupled with the fact he's a switch hitter, and it's no wonder he's had a succesful careeer. I'm surprised to see him back, but I'm glad he is.

Signing Brad Ausmus to a 2 year deal tells me a whole lot, and its all about Raul Chavez. Chavez clearly hasn't shown the Astros brass he could take over as the everyday catcher next year, and by the time Ausmus' deal is over following 2005, John Buck shuld be ready to assume the starting job. I'm happy to see Ausmus back, especially with the pitching staff in turmoil. He's been a steady, veteran presence on the club, and all the pitchers swear by him. The $1 million in 2004 is great, and with a lot less money sewed up in 2005, the $3 million shouldn't be a huge deal (unless Kent's option is picked up and the Astros can sign Pettitte). If he could just hit .250, the offense could be even better. "

Nov 3, 2003 - traded pitcher Billy Wagner to the Phillies for pitchers Brandon Duckworth, Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio.
Chris says: "Even though I wasn't surprised by the Astros trading Wagner, the timing of it threw me off. The Astros wasted no time in sending Wagner's $9 million contract elsewhere, in return acquiring Brandon Duckworth and 2 minor league pitchers ( Taylor Buchholz ( 9-11 at AA) and Ezequiel Astacio (15-5 at A) ). Duckworth is a guy that can't get you much more than 7 innings, but considering Jimy Williams' tendency to yank starters in the 6th, that shouldn't be an issue. He is a hard thrower, and is still young, so the ability to go deep could be developed. But most importantly, he's making $325,000. If the Astros do something with this money, then I'll be happy. Otherwise, we just traded the best closer in club history and arguably one of the top 3 closers in baseball for a bottom end starter. Wagner has done a lot for this team, and I for one will miss him. I think Octavio Dotel will be able to step in and do a good job closing, but Billy Wagner just came off of an incredible season. I understand the reasons behind the move, but Wags is a fan favorite- best of luck in Philly! "

Aug 13, 2003 - signed pitcher Rick White. Assigned pitcher Kirk Saarloos to AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "The 'Stros picked up Rick White for the stretch drive, seeming to hope he can put up the same numbers he did for the Cardinals last year. He was less than great with the White Sox, going 0-2 with an ERA over 6. That said, he was 3-0 with a sub-1 era for the Cards last year, which is obviously what Gerry Hunsicker is looking at here. The additions of Dan Miceli and now White does give the bullpen more expierence is nothing else. Miceli has looked sharp, so hopefully White will follow that path. Too make room, Kirk Saarloos was sent to AAA- I actually thought Saarloos had done a nice job coming out of the pen (with the exception of that wild game in Cincinatti), but he still needs to be tried as a starter, so hopefully that's the role he will be used in over the next month."

Aug 6, 2003 - placed pitcher Roy Oswalt on the 15-day Disabled List. Promoted pitcher Jared Fernandez from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "In what has become a very troubling situation, Roy Oswalt again has gone down bcause a groin injury, the third time it has happened this year. The Stros ace never looked comfortable against the Braves, and the homerun to Russ Ortiz seemed to be the cue Jimy Williams and crew were looking for to take him out. For this round, the ball is tossed to Jared Fernandez to try and fill his spot. Fernandez looked good is his first start against the Marlins, pitching into the 6th inning and allowing only 1 run. At one point, his knuckleball was clocked as low as 58 M.P.H- thats sick!!!"

July 28, 2003 - acquired pitcher Dan Miceli from the New York Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Chris says: "In what could be the Astros lone deadline deal, the Astros aquired Dan Miceli from the Yankees, making the Stros his 4th team this year. He was terrible in Colorado to start the year (but what pitcher isn't?), going 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA. However, with the Indians and Yankees, he went 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA to bring his overall year stats to 1-3 with a 4.02 ERA and a save. At most, Miceli costs us a Player to be Named, otherwise, its cash considerations. Funny to think the Yankees need cash, but oh well. Its still to be determined who's spot he'll take on the roster, but Kirk Saarloos is a logical choice."

July 26, 2003 - released outfielder Brian Hunter. Promoted outfielder Colin Porter from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "The Astros release of Brian Hunter surprised me, but doesn't disappoint me. Hunter's one addition to this team was speed, but his batting average (.235) was too low for him to get on base with any consistancy. That coupled with only 12 starts meant Hunter really wasn't adding anything to the team. His baserunning debacle in Milwaukee reminded more than one person of Glen Barker, whose fate was quite similar. To replace Hunter, the 'Stros recalled Colin Porter, who had a brief stint with the club earlier in the year and has had a solid year in New Orleans (.304, 10, 39, 20 SBs). His left handed bat will be nice coming off the bench, and his speed should be more than enough to fill Hunter's role."

July 6, 2003 - activated pitcher Roy Oswalt from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned pitcher Brandon Puffer to AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Roy Oswalt returns to a team that desperately needs him. This team needs a starter that can get you deep, quality starts, and while his first couple of outings may be shorter, his presence alone should fire up the team. Roy O is 4-4 with a 3.01 ERA thus far for the year, which instantly puts him back in the top spot. To make room, the Astros optioned Brandon Puffer back down to New Orleans. Some one on the boards said he is an AAAA pitcher- thats probably the best description I've heard. There are moments he looks good (like a year ago in Texas), but those are too few and far between. "

July 1, 2003 - placed pitcher Rodrigo Rosario on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher Brandon Puffer from AAA-New Orleans.

June 28, 2003 - optioned pitcher Nate Bland to AAA-New Orleans. Recalled pitcher Mike Gallo from AAA-New Orleans.

June 27, 2003 - placed infielder Jeff Kent on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled infielder David Matranga from AAA-New Orleans.

June 24, 2003 - placed infielder Jose Vizcaino on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled infielder Eric Bruntlett from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "Ouch- the injury to Jose Vizcaino is a hug blow to this team, especially considering two things. One- he has been hitting very well lately and knocked in thr winning run just last Sunday with a triple. Two- Jeff Kent is also hurting with a wrist injury, though his is not as bad and he should be back by the weekend. The Astros had to dig deap and bring up Eric Brunlett, who has played both short and second this year in New Orleans. He is batting .265 with 2 HR's, 27 RBI's, and 45 runs in 74 games played. He does have some speed, stealing 35 bases last year for the Express (much thanks to the Express "E-Train Update" for those tidbits of info). Geoff Blum is more than capable of filling in as the utility man for the team, but with the up and down pitching, the offense needs to be clicking at full gear- or they need to make deals for pitchers (yes, plural). "

June 17, 2003 - placed pitcher Roy Oswalt on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher Rodrigo Rosario from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "Ron Villone was excellent last night, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on 4 hits. Compared to Jonathon Johnson's last start (8 walks in 3 plus innings), it looks even better. Now the reason Rodrigo Rosario is making his major league debut is not because of a bad outing, but because of injury to Roy Oswalt (remember, the whole reason the 6 pitcher no hitter was possible?). This is the 2nd time Roy O is on the DL with the groin injury, and it is begining to worry alot of people. I want Roy to get healthy and stay healthy, so what ever it takes, they need to do it. Rosario went 5-7 with a 4.03 ERA in New Orleans, so the Astros are really having to dig deep into the Zephyr pitching staff. Rosario's call up means we now have used him, Villone, Johnson, and Kirk Saarloos from the New Orleans rotation, and it's only June 19. "

June 16, 2003 - designated pitcher Jonathan Johnson for assignment. Recalled pitcher Ron Villone from AAA-New Orleans.

June 7, 2003 - activated outfielder Richard Hidalgo from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned outfielder Colin Porter to AAA-New Orleans.

May 31, 2003 - activated pitcher Roy Oswalt from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned pitcher Brandon Puffer to AAA-New Orleans.

May 29, 2003 - placed outfielder Richard Hidalgo on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled outfielder Colin Porter from AAA-New Orleans.

May 28, 2003 - designated infielder Tripp Cromer for assignment. Recalled pitcher Jonathan Johnson from AAA-New Orleans.

May 24, 2003 - designated pitcher Scott Linebrink for assignment. Recalled infielder Tripp Cromer from AAA-New Orleans.

May 17, 2003 - placed pitcher Roy Oswalt on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher Kirk Saarloos from AAA-New Orleans.

May 12, 2003 - assigned pitcher Kirk Saarloos to AAA-New Orleans. Recalled pitcher Jeriome Robertson from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "Ok, so this will eventually get to Jeriome Robertson coming back up and Kirk Saarloos going down, but first a look at what got us to this point. First, Saarloos replaced Robertson because Jeriome had done HORRIBLE in all but one of his starts. So Saarloos comes up and, in two starts, the Astros won. Catch is, the Astros had to score 10 runs in each game and Saarloos was gone pretty quick in each. So now the Astros have called Robertson back up and Saarloos was sent back down. Robertson came out of the pen tonight, so I'm going to guess Pete Munro will get a chance in the rotation. I hope he does, because he was succesful in there last year.

By the way, the Nate Bland move looks good. He gave up a 2 run shot tonight (5-12), but it took him 6 games to get an ERA. Bruce Chen is a big name and thats about it."

May 2, 2003 - released pitcher Bruce Chen. Recalled pitcher Nate Bland from AAA-New Orleans.

May 2, 2003 - assigned infielder David Matranga and pitcher Jeriome Robertson to AAA-New Orleans. Recalled infielder Adam Everett and pitcher Kirk Saarloos from AAA-New Orleans.

May 1, 2003 - designated infielder Julio Lugo for assignment. Recalled infielder David Matranga from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "There is no way to condone what Julio Lugo did, but the speed in which the club responded was amazing. His days are done, so now the Astros need to move in another direction at SS. Dave Matranga gets the call up, BUT ONLY because they had to replace him with someone not on the 40 man roster. Matranga will be an Astro today, Adam Everett will be one as early as Friday. This will be Everett's chance to show he can play in the pros, because with Vizcaino putting up awful numbers, Everett will play. Back to Lugo- one has to wonder what the reaction would have been if this had be Kent, Bagwell, Berkman, or Biggio? Would they have been cut too? Now Gerry Huniscker did bring up Lugo's performance, or lack there of, so they didn't totally dodge the situation. But this is a lousy situation to go with a lousy start to the year. "

April 24, 2003 - placed pitcher Brian Moehler on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher Brandon Puffer from AAA-New Orleans.
Chris says: "With Brian Moehler's placement on the DL and the announcement Scott Linebrink will take his spot, one has really got to wonder what in the world is going on with the pitching rotation. Moehler has a history of medical problems, so no one should be surprised he's landed on the DL. In all fairness, this doesn't sound severe and he should be back rather quickly. But is that really a great thing? Moehler has looked less than stellar this year, and with Kirk Saarloos and Rodrigo Rosario having good years in AAA, one has to wonder why they aren't receiving a spot start instead of bringing up Brandon Puffer to replace Linebrink in the bullpen. That's one question I can't really answer, but the frustrating part of this equastion is the success of Shane Reynolds in Atlanta. I am cheering him on and am going for the Braves every 5th day (really I'm pulling for Shane, but a solid outing from the entire team means Shaner has a better shot at a W), and the reason he is on the Braves is all financial. Completely, 100%, money; the Astros didn't want to pay him up to $5 million this year, but with the incentive layden deal, if he had reached that figure, it meant he had a great year and, likely, so did the team. But off the soap box, and back to reality; Linebrink needs to have a good start, because the rest of the rotation has already had plenty of rough outings to go around. "

April 17, 2003 - assigned catcher Raul Chavez to AAA-New Orleans and recalled pitcher Scott Linebrink.