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Astros trade Billy Wagner

This is a bit of a shock, but no surprise.

All-Star closer Billy Wagner was traded Monday from the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Philadelphia sent Houston right-hander Brandon Duckworth, and minor league right-handers Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio.

There are two numbers in this article that are the keys to why this is a decent trade for the Astros: 32 and 8 million. They are Wagner’s age and salary, respectively. The Astros have the younger and cheaper Octavio Dotel to step into the closer role, and the even younger and even cheaper Brad Lidge to step into the setup role. In return, they got some starting pitchers, always a good thing to have. The deal makes good baseball and business sense.

The Astros should be a contender next season if they stay healthy (this is not a trivial concern, unfortunately), thanks in part to the organizational myopia in Chicago and St Louis. If they can find a league-average catcher to replace the giant sucking void that Brad Ausmus leaves behind, their lineup will be at least reasonable in all eight spots. (How bad was Ausmus last year? You could credibly claim that prior to the All Star break, when his “bat” finally awoke for the year, Wade Miller was a bigger offensive threat than he was.) They’re by no means a juggernaut, and there’s always the Jimy Factor to worry about, but they’re in decent shape.

That said, Wagner was right about one thing: Drayton McLane’s whining about payroll is older than Strom Thurmond’s pediatrician. If that eight million winds up back in Drayton’s pocket instead of being invested in the product he puts on the field, Wagner’s criticism will be fully justified.

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  1. William Hughes says:

    How old is Drayton McClane’s argument about salary? I seem to remember hearing that from former Astros owner John McMullen before he sold the team.

    Duckworth provides a possible number 5 starter, however, the issue of a starting catcher is more pressing than the Astros pitching. If Mitch Melusky hadn’t been injured in 2000, then you would have a decent hitting catcher with some power. What makes this worse is that there are no catchers currently listed above AA in the Astros organization other than Raul Chavez. The only other problems are Craig Biggio aging (he turns 38 in December) and three 35 year old infielders (Bagwell, Kent, and Vizcaino).

  2. kevin whited says:

    The ages of Biggio and Bagwell aren’t the only other problems, unfortunately. Their salaries combined with their ages and declining abilities (Bagwell’s almost a cripple when it comes to throwing these days) are HUGE problems.

    Wagner’s age/salary were minor concerns in comparison. But Drayton will never move those guys, because they keep butts in the seats.