Thanks to Hal Steinbrenner's latest obsessive/compulsive streak, Joba Chamberlain landed on the trading block after the Yankees acquired Rafael Soriano. Brian Cashman, relegated to a talking head, made it known that the Yankees were looking for another starter. With Houston native Andy Pettitte ready to hang it up, the Yanks need a left starter that can eat innings. I'm sure Astros SP Wandy Rodriguez's scouting report is already on Cashman's desk.
It's funny, the comment board on that link has Wandy at the top of the list.
The question is, who has the higher value? Would the Astros have to part with more than Wandy to get Joba? Or would the Yankees have to pitch in a prospect to receive a stable lefty? As an Astros fan, the gut instinct is to think the Yankees would at least have to throw in a B prospect or two to get the 'Stros to part with Wandy. Steinbrenner also mentioned using Joba as part of a "larger package to get a viable starter".
The following facts make me think that at the very least, a decent conversation could take place between Ed Wade and Cashman:
1. Cashman and Wade have hooked up on three trades, the last of which brought the Astros prospects for an established player in Lance Berkman.
2. Wade already has an eye on the Yankees minor league pitchers, having plucked Lance Pendleton in the Rule 5 draft.
3. Wandy is a free agent in 2012 and has had sub-4.00 ERA totals over the past three years. The Yankees just don't pass on that.
Not to mention, the Astros and Yankees have mutual interest in trading Jeff Keppinger, with or without an injury. Adding Kepp with Wandy to a trade for Joba could increase the talent AND quantity of prospects the Astros get in return. It's obvious by Steinbrenner's tone that he has had enough with the Joba project and is ready to move on to more established players.
As Astros fans, we should be excited at the prospect of getting Joba. My personal opinion is that he just doesn't like the New York City spotlight. He's a country boy, raised in Nebraska, Big 12 in his blood. A middle America city like Houston may just be the perfect fit for him. It's a perfect fit for the Astros, too. Joba's ERA has been hanging out in the 4.40-4.75 range for the past two years as the Yanks decided whether to start him or leave him in the bullpen. The Astros could make the decision easy, let the kid start, and finally see what happens. He's been ridiculously good at every level until the Yanks started messing with his role. Even if we made the mistake of leaving him in the bullpen, he's obviously going to blow the doors off as a closer in the NL. Everything about this trade makes sense, for both teams.
The question is, which trigger-happy GM will pay more?