The second half of the season is almost upon us. The Houston Astros are still the team to beat. As of today, the Astros have the second highest likelihood of reaching the playoffs in the American League, second to only the Kansas City Royals. The roster, currently, is good; good enough, evidently, to have fueled the early success. However, there are some holes, some warts and some areas in need of improvement.
The area most likely to be addressed is probably the rotation. Yes, the rotation is talented. Yes, we do have decent rotational depth. However, if I'm Jeff Luhnow, I'm trading for a starting pitcher. Having too many good arms is far from a problem. Second, the baseball season (particularly if you're playing deep into October), is a long one; injuries and dips in form are inevitable. Trading for another quality arm would safeguard against any such problems.
Kazmir is, surely, the most attractive option available. A FIP of 3.39, a solid GB rate, he strikes guys out and he doesn't walk too many. Peter Gammons, rather cryptically, tweeted yesterday that the Astros might be interested in him/might be working out a trade for him/might know who he is. Okay, the tweet gave nothing away. Regardless, having Kazmir and Astros in the same sentence makes me quiver with excitement.
He is far from an ace. But, we don't need an ace. Dallas Keuchel is the man for that. A one-two-three, Lefty-righty-lefty punch of Keuchel, Kazmir and Collin McHugh would be rather lethal. It would give the Astros a much needed push to breeze into the playoffs. The price tag wouldn't be ridiculous. The front office in Oakland aren't stupid. Kazmir has only half a season left on his contract.
I'd assume a prospect like Colin Moran and another lower tier prospect would get the job done. I'd be, and you should be, too, interested in any deal like such. Jeff Luhnow's track record with trades, thus far, has been rather stellar. A deal to add Kazmir to the rotation would follow suit. Go get him, Jeff.
I was going to write about Johnny Cueto as a potential target. But, I much prefer Leake as a target, instead. He isn't going to overwhelm you. He's solid, an innings eater and has a lot of potential. Pitching in the hitter friendly confines of Great American Ballpark, Leake hasn't been able to showcase his true ability. Have a look at his xFIP from the past five years: