After a whirlwind weekend with two more trades added to the ledger, I thought it prudent to run back through what Jeff Luhnow has done in the swap meet since being hired last December.
For the record, Luhnow has now made seven trades, getting rid of all Houston' s big-money contracts for 2013, with the exception of Wandy Rodriguez (and he could be gone forthwith). So, what has he gotten back? Has he really gotten positive value for Houston in most cases, like we've tended to think at the time the deals were made?
That's why we're going through them, one at a time. Join me, won't you?
Dec. 8, 2011 - Traded for Marwin Gonzalez from Boston for a PTBNL (Marco Duarte).
Comment: Sneaky good move here, as Houston gets a guy who has been surprisingly useful, especially since Lowrie showed off his bad luck with injuries once again. Not a home run, but a solid addition.
Comment: The first sign that Houston could have been onto something with Luhnow. Yes, Lowrie was in the first year of arbitration and will only be under team control for three years, while Melancon had another five years of team control left. However, his implosion in Boston shows just how fickle relievers can be. Shortstops are a much better bet, even if they do tend to get injured. Weiland showed promise, but an unfortunate shoulder injury seems to have scuttled his entire season.
Comment: The key here is that neither of these two guys figured to make the roster anyway. Could they have? Sure, but their absence has allowed Houston to take fliers on guys like Jason Maxwell. Chapman looks good while Toney is all potential, but Houston seems to have gotten more value in this deal right now.
Comment: The one black mark on his resume currently. We liked it at the time, but Ruggiano has turned into the guy you all expected Fernando Martinez to be. Plus, he's playing a spot (center field) that's being manned by the least popular Astro right now (Schafer). Morales may turn into a good player, and Ruggiano may cool off in the next 60 seconds, but for now, it's the one misstep on Luhnow's resume.
Comment: The white whale. Who knew Luhnow could actually pull off a Carlos Lee deal? Not only that, but who knew he could get something of actual value for him? Of course, that was all predicated on Houston picking up a ton of Carlos' salary. But, the important thing here is that Luhnow traded Lee not once, but twice in the span of one week. That's solid negotiating, even if it seems to have sent his team into a death spiral for the near future.
Comment: His blockbuster. Like I said when it happened, give him credit for acting and not reacting. He traded Happ, before his value could diminish. This deal reminds me a little of the Michael Bourn move, with a ton of quantity and not necessarily the high-end quality of the Pence deal. However, he got a replacement for Myers as closer, another bat in the outfield and a ton of quality arms for the minors along with a flier on a potential-laden catcher. Happ is the one who could haunt Houston the most in this deal, but considering Happ haunted Houston plenty leading up to this move, it's fitting he should continue to do it after he finally left the Gulf Coast.
July 21, 2012 - Traded Brett Myers to Chicago (AL) for Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters and a PTBNL.
Comment: The Myers deal reminds me of the Lee one, where the return wasn't as important as the fact that Luhnow found a taker for him. Do you think he could have flipped him for this kind of return if Myers was still in the rotation? I'm not so sure. Would he had been able to move him if Myers had spent another week imploding in the closer's role or not getting any work? That, we won't know. Instead, he picked up two more pitchers for the minor league grist mill, hoping some of them will pan out.
All in all, he's got three "wins," one "loss" and three "pendings" on his resume right now. If Lee doesn't hit in Miami and if he finally brings up Wallace or someone else to play first, that could easily shift to a win by the end of this season. We may even be able to shift that loss to something else depending on Ruggiano. The others? Only time will tell.