How It Feels To Be Pudge-Less: Analyzing the Astros-Rangers Trade

Glenn RobertsContributor IAugust 19, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 14:  Ivan Rodriguez #12 of the Houston Astros congratulates teammate Miguel Tejada (not pictured) after Tejada scored on a sacrafice fly hit by Rodriguez during the sixth inning of the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 14, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Astros defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It was short-lived, but then again, I believe we all knew it would be.  On Tuesday, the Astros parted ways with one of the greatest one year rentals of all time in Pudge Rodriguez. 

When the Astros signed him back in March, it was clear that Pudge would be a cornerstone, both offensively and defensively, to help guide the Astros back to postseason glory. 

Unfortunately for him and the fans in Houston, Pudge never fully lived up to those offensive expectations during his time here, batting an Ausmus-esque .251 with 8 HRs and 34 RBI. 

However, defensively he was everything the Astros had bargained for, and he showed us what an experienced professional he was by bringing his mental and physical toughness to the field every time he donned that cather's mask.  We'll miss Pudge and only wish him the best as he returns home to Arlington.

So if you are Ed and Drayton, you might be pondering what to do next about your catching woes.  Coste and Quintero are viable replacements that can easily fill the void as long as you are looking for mediocre offense and somewhat sound defense. 

Both have proved they can call a game, maybe not with the same effectiveness as Ausmus or Pudge, but a lot of what a catcher knows about calling a game is learned over time, and neither of these two guys has that caliber of experience on their résumés.  The question I would be asking myself is, do we see the team making any strides with these two gentlemen behind the dish every night? 

I think the honest answer to that is No.  My guess is that Cooper will be forced to plug these two into the lineup every night until the September call-ups occur, at which time they'll summons the likes of J.R. Towles, and quite hopefully even Jason Castro, although they may baby-step him through Round Rock before letting him come up to the Show. 

Only time will tell, but I think it might be high time for a youth movement in this Astros lineup.

Now for the flip side of the trade.  We all know what kind of player the Rangers got in Pudge, but little is known about the guys the Astros received or will receive in return. 

Matt Nevarez is a guy who apparently can really bring the heat and seems to be a solid guy that the Astros might be able to rely on some day to be a setup man, possibly a closer.  At the very least, they picked up a guy that has a solid arm and great up-side.

He carries a mid-90's fastball and great off-speed pitches.  He's also trying to work in a slider, which would give him a very solid arsenal of pitches to help propel him to the major-league level.  The downside is his knack for injury.  He was sidelined all of 2007 and all but one game in 2006, which explains why he sits in A ball at the age of 22. 

The other two players in the Pudge trade have yet to be named.  However, any time you can get younger and build up your organization should be considered a step in the right direction.

Drayton and Ed insist that the trade was not to be taken as a sign that they're doing their best French military impersonation and screaming "Mercy" on the season, but I would think the rest of Houston sees the writing on the wall and knows that this season is all but lost. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes its best to take a step back and realize the state of your organization and begin the process of planning for your future. 

The Astros have a lot to look forward to in the seasons to come, namely Jason Castro, Brian Bogusevic, Tommy Manzella, Drew Locke, Collin DeLome, and a whole slew of arms coming up through the ranks, some of which have already arrived in Norris and Bazardo. 

Perhaps Ed and Drayton are being true to their word and this is just a fluke trade, but I would be highly surprised, and maybe even a little disappointed, if the boys in the front office don't attempt to offload at least one or two of the more veteran guys before the waiver trade deadline ends. 

And if you are having second thoughts about what benefits the Astros and you as a fan might gain from such a trade, I leave you with one simple headline:  Larry Anderson has been shipped to the Red Sox for some kid named Bagwell...