Brad Lidge has chased away the demons of 07 and 06. He saved the first game of the World Series, and is on the top of the world...or at least the top of his game, right now. (As soon as I write something like that, naturally he will blow his first save of the year...I guess we will see.) When we talk about Lidge's high performance level this year, people on this blog tend to dance around the question which probably is in the back of our mind:
Did Ed Wade get enough in return for Lidge?
Before we exhibit too much hindsight, I did look up the Crawfish Boxes article on the Lidge trade in November, 2007. And, in fairness, most of the fans here seemed to view this as a trade which would be good for both sides. If Bourn had hit .280 and posted a .350 OBP, we probably wouldn't ponder the question above.
The Chronicle's Richard Justice began the second guessing game after Lidge's World Series appearance in Game 1. Here is an interesting quote from his column:
A better argument might be if Ed Wade could have gotten more for him than Michael Bourn. Some GMs have complained privately that they didn't know Lidge was available, that Wade didn't do a good enough job considering all his options.
But Wade drafted Bourn and believed in him. He was comfortable he got enough. That trade ultimately will be decided on if Bourn becomes a productive big league player.
Even considering that Lidge still had some risk , given his blown saves, in late 2007, he was widely recognized as tremendously talented. So it is a fair question whether another team might have offered more than the Astros got for him.
One team that may have had an interest in Lidge (as a set up man) was the Mets. Billy Wagner had told Mets' management they should go after Lidge. At the time, the Chronicle's Ortiz mentioned that the Astros asked, but couldn't get the CFer they wanted from the Mets. My guess is that the Astros may have asked about Carlos Gomez, later traded to the Twins in the Santana deal, or Fernando Martinez, who is still a top Mets' prospect. The question I asked myself at the time is whether the Astros could have gotten Lastings Milledge, a center fielder with more slugging ability.
Milledge was later traded to the Nationals, and he didn't have as big a year as I expected. But his offense would have been significantly better than Bourn's last year:
Milledge .268 BA, .338 OBP, .402 SLG, 14 HR, 96 K, 24 SB, 65 R, 61 RBI.
Bourn .229 BA, .288 OBP, .300 SLG, 5 HR, 111 K, 41 SB, 57 R, 29 RBI.
Without a doubt, Bourn is a better defensive player than Milledge. Milledge and Bourn have similar out of zone plays (81 and 82), but Bourn's revised zone rating in CF is somewhat higher, .913 vs. .870.
Were there other teams which would have given more in return for Lidge? Who knows, and it's too late to find out.