added 7/25/2012 by Bob Hulsey
In the final tally, the 2010-2012 Astros traded Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Pedro Feliz, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Humberto Quintero, Jason Bourgeois, Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and mega-millions in cash for:
Jonathan Villar (AA), Brett Wallace (AAA), Jimmy Paredes (AAA), Jason Stoffel (AA), Jarred Cosart (AA), Jonathan Singleton (AA), Josh Zeid (AA), Domingo Santana (A), Jordan Schafer, Juan Abreu (AAA), Paul Clemens (AAA), Brett Oberholzer (AA), Jed Lowrie, Kyle Weiland, Kevin Chapman (AA), D'Andre Toney (Rookie), Matt Dominguez (AAA), Rob Rasmussen (AA), Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Asher Wojciechowski (AA), Joe Musgrove (rookie), David Rollins (A), Carlos Perez (A), Blair Walters (A), Matthew Heidenreich (AA), Rudy Owens (AAA), Robbie Grossman (AA), Colton Cain (A) and two minor league players to be named later.
To summarize, that is their entire starting lineup from 2010 (minus Tommy Manzella who was waived), 60% of the starting rotation, a backup outfielder and their partial closer for one big league shortstop, two big league outfielders, one washed up closer, one starting pitcher who went to the DL after three starts and 26 minor league players, at least 15 of whom are pitchers.
If they ever raze the Astrodome, it won't look this messy or take this long.
The demolition phase for the rebuilding of the Houston Astros has ended unless General Manager Jeff Luhnow finds someone that he can unload Cordero and Francisco upon. The strewn rubble of what used to be a proud baseball franchise now looks to be a total waste but there is a foundation to build a new structure that bright-eyed optimists claim will someday lead to a glittering dynasty. May that someday happen.
For now, the Astros see a bumper crop of prospects from their fire sale in the minors yet there are few with any type of "can't miss" label. That's because when you deal in multiples, the individual quality suffers. I'm not sure anyone but Pence could have attracted a superstar prospect in return.
What Luhnow is doing is akin to Johnny Appleseed, planting seedlings all over Oklahoma City, Corpus Christi, Lancaster, Lexington and elsewhere in hopes that a few of these guys will be superstars before the decade is out. What's left in Houston is as exciting as watching grass grow.
That's a hard sell for fickle fans who have never seen a ballclub completely eviscerated of every tangible asset and left with a product that might (yes, might) compete in the Pacific Coast League or the Texas League but is totally incapable of winning in the National or American leagues.
As of Wednesday, Houston has lost 21 of their last 23, many where they were simply outgunned despite some decent starting pitching. So, once the wheels began in motion to dismantle the Astros, it was clear that the process had to continue. Even with their stunning 22-23 start to the season, the Astros have now fallen to junk bond status. The first overall pick in 2013 is almost completely assured.
Assuming Cordero and Francisco are not in Houston next year and are just passing through town like planks of flotsam during a tsunami, the Astros should have three players for 2013 making more than the minimum wage - Lowrie, Bud Norris and Chris Snyder.
Luhnow and owner Jim Crane hint that some free agents will be added to pad the payroll but nobody, they caution, you've probably heard of. Maybe more guys like Jack Cust and Livan Hernandez, not a guy like Josh Hamilton. Their first American League team won't be significantly better than the the last two National League offerings.
So think wistfully of the good times you had in the old building or look ahead to the shiny new dynasty that's intended to replace her but don't look too closely at the Closed For Remodeling Astros. It's not a pretty sight and not suitable for women, children and bandwagoners.
Hopefully, the Astros won't go with the lowest bidder while putting in the plumbing and the infrastructure or they'll just have to tear it down and start over again in a few years.
As for all the kids that were traded to the Astros system, they should rejoice in knowing that there is nothing to block them from a long career in Houston other than themselves.
And if there are any fans who wondered how it felt to grow up with the expansion Colt .45s of 50 years ago, you'll get to live it minus the newness, the exposed seating and the unabashed enthusiasm of Loel Passe. Great seats are available and probably will continue to be until 2017.