The Astros gave the Phillies the Wiz and $11M to decorate his locker. In return they got a lefty pitcher and a couple of minor leaguers, one of whom they immediately flipped to the Blue Jays. When the dust settled they ended up with:
J.A. (say "Jay") Happ - young lefty starting pitcher in his second big league season, who has only had 3 starts this season, due to an arm strain. But supposedly he's healthy now, and fans will get to see in tonight's game.
Jonathan Villar - 19-year old shortstop, with lots of speed on the base paths, good range and good arm at short. The Phillies signed him from the DR in 2008, and he's in the low minors. He'll be in line behind the Astros 2009 first-round draft pick, Jio Mier. It will be a while before the Astros find out what they've got from him.
Brett Wallace - Minor League first baseman, acquired from the Blue Jays, who got him from Oakland, who got him from the Cards -- their #1 draft pick in 2008. He's been traded around in some big deals, involving marquee players (Holliday, Halladay, and now Oswalt). He started out as a good hitting third baseman, who's been converted into a third baseman. He's a big guy (6'2", 205 lb), who's been hitting around .300 with a nice collection of homers in Triple A for the past couple of seasons. So he could be close to hatching from his position as the starting first baseman in Round Rock. Do the Astros need a new first baseman? They might, depending on whether they hold on to the Puma or let him become a free agent at the end of this season -- or trade him now. Rumors today are that the Yankees are just on the verge of snaring the Puma, and the Red Sox are sniffing around too.
Bagwell. Biggio. Now Oswalt. Maybe Berkman... Bit by bit the Astros' lifers are moving on. I think it will be exciting to watch the team rebuild with younger players. On the other hand, for a fan in exile, who only gets to see the team in person at Spring Training and the occasional road trip to where I live, getting attached to the players is how I stay a fan of my home team. My last trip to the Astrodome was in 1991, when I was on a business trip to Clear Lake with an IBM colleague. We decided to take in a ball game one night -- the Astros lost badly and I noted that the team was mostly young guys. I think I might have seen one of them, a kid named Bagwell, hit a homer that night. Or perhaps I might be just embroidering on my memory. At any rate, back in those days, when the only access to an out-of-town team was a blurb under the box score in the next day's paper, it was hard to stay really connected. Now, with mlb.tv live games and a yearly pilgrimage to Kissimmee, it's much better. Still, it's going to be weird without the heart of the team there.
Goodbye and good luck, Roy O. And maybe Fat Elvis too. Looking forward to seeing you play against the Nats when you come to Washington. I'm not one of those fans who will boo you. But I might not cheer for you either.