Breaking down Hunter Pence’s last day as an Astro, and previewing J.D. Martinez’s first.

Hunter Pence took a drink from the cooler in the middle of the fifth, picked up his glove and trotted back out to his position in right field, just as he had every game that he played during his Astros career.

But as soon as Pence had arrived to his spot in the outfield, manager Brad Mills walked to home plate to talk to umpire Tim Timmons. Soon, Jason Michaels sprinted out to right field and yelled something to his teammate, and Pence immediately started his trot back to the dugout.

The two shook hands as they passed, and just like that, the rumor mill that has had an excruciating presence in the Astros’ clubhouse for the better part of a week stopped churning — at least, for now.

It was soon to be official: Pence belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies after being traded for four players: first baseman outfielder Jonathan Singleton, right-hander Jarred Cosart, right-hander Josh Zeid and a player to be named later. Pence arrived to the dugout, hugged his teammates goodbye and retreated to the clubhouse. He stuck around until after the game and, wearing street clothes and ready to hit the road, he faced reporters for the last time as a Houston Astro.

“It’s tough to really explain,” he said. “I don’t know if I can. It’s emotional because I love these guys and I don’t feel  like bailing on them. I’m going to miss them. I love them.

“I’m an emotional guy. We’ve gone through a lot together. This has been one of the toughest years — the most adversity I’ve ever been a part of. We’re all in this together. I just want the best for everyone. I think ultimately, that’s what this is going to end up being.

“I think every competitor at the highest level wants to be in a pennant race, wants to win World Series. I’m pretty lucky now that I get to jump on board with one of the best teams and have the opportunity to do that.”

(Watch Pence’s final farewell here)

Most of the feedback I’ve heard from you all tonight has been mostly along the lines of “Why? Why? Why?” (I’m imagining clutched chests, pulled hair and heads banging against walls as well.) This trade can be explained many different ways and spun even more ways. But the facts are really pretty simple, and it comes down to this: The Astros have been losing for the better part of six years. They are in the process of getting younger and less expensive. Hunter Pence is in the process of getting older and more expensive. The Astros are in major rebuild mode. They need to continue to build their farm system and load it with future talent. There was one player on the roster who could bring in the players necessary to springboard that blueprint for the long-term success the Astros dream of: Hunter Pence.

Major League franchises cannot win without, first and foremost, players they scouted, drafted, signed and developed themselves. The second thing they can do is grab the good young players from other organizations, which requires giving up your most talented, most established and — in many cases, such as this one — most popular player.

The Pence situation is incredibly unique. Yes, he is a terrific hitter. And a two-time All-Star. And only 28 years old. But his best asset — the one that made contenders drool and gave the Astros the upper-hand — is that he still has two years of arbitration-eligiblity left. For general managers, that’s baseball gold. Pence is going to cost a fortune in arbitration in each of those two years, yes. But his new team has control his contract — owns him, if you will — through 2013. That was a huge factor, and why the Astros’ asking price was so high (and rightfully so).

By the time the Astros are in a position to win again, Pence will be making free-agent money and would probably be too expensive to keep. Is it fair? No. Was the decision to trade him the right one? Sadly, yes.

___________

Will the players the Astros got from the Phillies pan out? I have no idea. But they look pretty good from the outset, especially the two centerpieces of the deal — Cosart and Singleton. Cosart, who will report to Double-A Corpus Christi, was the Phillies mid-season No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who ranks the pitcher as No. 37 on the top-50 MLB prospect list.

Here’s what Mayo has to say:

“When healthy, the 2008 Draft pick has electric stuff, with one of the better fastballs in the Minors and a very good curve. He’s lean and projectable and he’s got good command of his stuff, though his changeup, as with many young pitchers, is behind the other offerings. The bigger issue has been staying injury-free. In 2009, it was his back and shoulder. Last year, his season ended at the end of June with a bad elbow. He’s healthy now and has moved up to Clearwater.”

I emailed Mayo for up-to-the-second analysis, and he offered: “He’s come a long way with his changeup and his command is very good. Top of the rotation potential.”

Mayo ranked Singleton, headed for Class A Lancaster, as the Phillies No. 2 prospect and No. 38 among the top 50 in all of baseball:

“The 2009 high school draftee had an extremely productive first full season, being named the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Major League prospect. He should hit for average and power and has a good approach at the plate.”

Zeid, 24, owns a 2-3 record and a 5.65 ERA in 21 games, including 11 starts, for Double A Reading this season. As a reliever, Zeid (pronounced Zide) has posted a 2.25 ERA (4ER/16IP) in 10 games. Originally a 10th round pick of the Phillies in 2009, Zeid will report to Corpus Christi.

(In Baseball America’s mid-season revised top 50 rankings, Singleton was listed at No. 41; Cosart, No. 43.)

____________

Earlier on Friday, a colleague and I quietly discussed why in the world J.D. Martinez had not moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City yet. He has been absolutely blistering the ball at Double-A Corpus and really has shown there’s not much more at that level he needs to do to prove he can play.

A couple of hours later, it became pretty obvious: Martinez is, like his buddy Jose Altuve, bypassing Triple-A all together and joining the Astros.

Martinez’s position and role has yet to be determined and we’ll know more from Mills when we convene at Miller Park on Saturday. But make no mistake — the addition of Martinez could shake things up a bit. Martinez has played nothing but left field all season and has very little experience in right. So let’s not assume he just slips into Pence’s old position.

If Martinez continues to be a left fielder, they have to do something with Carlos Lee. He’s been playing a lot of first base as Brett Wallace’s playing time dwindles, and it will be interesting if Mills continues that pattern. Jason Bourgeois, who has been thriving as a starter — hitting third, no less — is also making a good case to continue playing every day, and probably will.

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54 Comments

All I have to say is the Astros have lost this long time 50 year fan for the remainder of this year. I am sick and tired of us having great players and we trade them off for prospects. The only one that has ever worked out was Jeff Bagwell. The organization is known for trading talent, ie: NOlan Ryan and Valverde and Berkman and now Pence. Will Bourne and Rodriguez be gone as well. Probably. So we will be a minor league team for now. And then the next good player? Will he be traded to save money? Somewhere you have to draw a line, and mine has been drawn. I will still be an Astros fan, always have been, always will be, but the team needs leadership and that comes from veterans. Where are they? Myers and Lee. They will be gone before next year, then we should be in the minors not the majors!! This fan is mad and very upset for now. Why don’t we trade Wade back to Philadelphia? He is still a part of there team!!!

This has to be a conspiracy. Ed Wade still even lives in Philly. i live there and his wife was my nephew’s teacher last year. he clearly is trying to help them win. what a joke!

Frank, you’re a moron and you dont understand baseball. Simply put.

No name calling please…every fan is entitled to his or her opinion. Thank you.

Well put in my opinion Frank. I have even “unliked” the Astros now that Bourn is gone

The one thing that sticks out in every article written about Cosart is “when he’s healthy”. THAT is what we DON’T want to hear. I’m pretty sure this trade had
Jim Crane’s hand print ALL over it. We will be the laughing stock of baseball
for a loooooooooong time. I’m incredibly sad and angry about this trade. The
thoughts I’m thinking right now, aren’t very christian. Becky:( :( :( :( :( :(

Good story. Thanks for the insight. Personally, I realize 1. the business side to this 2. The rational reasoning to this, and 3. That this was done to try and HELP this team long term (I.e. Not just a money thing). BUT I understand Frank’s and other Astros fan’s frustrations, primarily because I understand that I have those same feelings as well. Pence was a special MLB player. He was more than just a role player, and not just because his WAR was 5 . What STINKS about this is that these things happen to teams that are in our position. Namely, the ones that LOSE. A LOT. This frustration, in my opionion, is understandable and genuine because it is a big extension of our frustrations with this team, primarily it’s off the field leadership. I know you’ve (Alyson) been through this many times as a professional who does what you do (though I know you are “grieving” as well), but this one definitely hurts A LOT and will definitely have deeper effects on fans than the Puma ordeal. Heck, that might even be somehow, even just a slight bit, responsible for some of this. Wade is looked at sideways based on the fact that the Stros never seem to come out winners. (well, except for Bourn, so PLEASE Wade, don’t trade him too) But, even if this thing comes up roses trade-wise, you can’t easily replace a guy/personality/player like Pence. Maybe ever. This trade hurts bad. It burns! But… Go Stros.

Very well put, Zach, and I think I expressed similar sentiments when Lance and Roy were trade this time last year. Trades were necessary, probably will help long-term, but yea, right now, this just totally stinks.

The team is in major transition right now and transitions are never fun and always painful. Hopefully the next wave of players will ingratiate themselves to the Houston fan base as well as Hunter did. There are always future fan favorites that we haven’t met yet!

Its official, we have become the farm team for the Major League!!! We get them, we mold them into Allstars and we trade them away. I know I’m not alone when I say this,
I’m sick and tired of this circus, I’m tired of all you clowns in the front office jerking us fans around. I am not gonna support this team any longer as far as buying tickets. I’m still a fan, have been since the Colt 45’s, and will remain one. I love baseball. Unfortunately, this town’s baseball organization is a joke, oh, and nothing but a stepping stone for major league players……
Ed Wade, get a life, preferably somewhere else!!!!!!!!!

A few years ago, I caught a few games watching a team struggle. Then they traded their star fan favorite outfielder…then a star infielder…then a really good pitcher. All they had were young nobodies, and their fans were dispondant and calling for their GM’s head.

The team I am referring to? The Pittsburgh Pirates.

A lot of people on Twitter and Facebook are bemoaing the fact that we traded a fan favorite. He was my favorite Astro as well, and the defacto emotional team leader.

But the reality is this: This is a business, and trading for young REALLY GOOD talent is what teams in last place with the worst record in baseball do.

I remember the complaints a few years ago were, “our farm system is a joke and all we have are these over the hill free agent signees”. Well, now we’ve got a really up and coming farm system. THATS HOW YOU BUILD A WINNER.

Pence understands this. For the record, he’s excited to get to play for a winner and chace a world series.

So Astros fans, please get a grip. Our team is doing what it needs to do to get better. There is nowhere to go but up. If we can get more young superstar prospects for Wandy, I say do it! Bourn? I’m against it only because of what he brings to the club and his young age. Lee? He’d be gone if there was a way to eat his contract. He knows it, we know it…everyone knows it.

Bright days are ahead. This is a reason to be excited, folks. The future starts now. I, for one, am ready for it.

(And thanks Alyson for your great notes about the prospects we’re getting. You do a great job)

Thanks Ed Wade. Proves once again he is wrapped around the Philles ball sack by making a trade that truely benefits the phillies. All I can say is thank you as you continue to help your former ball club.

What a stupid move. Looks like Ed Wade still favors his former team the Phillies. Watch he will be fired and hired by the Phillies. For 4 minow league players???
get real! Tade Wade!

Alyson, can I tell you something that’s going to sound offensive, but shouldn’t?

That was one seriously condescending rah-rah piece you just wrote, at least from my perspective.

And why is that? Because one can certainly make the case to trade Pence at some point, for reasons you’ve laid out. But don’t be so quick to overlook the obvious–which is that

*Ed Wade had no compelling reason to trade Pence NOW, unless he truly was OVERWHELMED by the offer made (per his own original prescription).*

A quick glance at the national writers like Keith Law tells you that, AT BEST, this is in the vicinity of a fair trade, but that the Astros probably should have gotten another sure-thing piece since Cosart’s elbow has been a concern and since Singelton’s A+ splits have become a concern.

No… as much as I often admire your insight… you’re playing a company line here, and that’s disappointing… either that, or you just aren’t looking at this critically enough to see that, in fact, the field of opportunity VERY WELL could have been much greater in the off-season, given the fact that in July there are only a handful of hopefuls eager to buy, as opposed to December when the vast majority of teams are 0-0, and thus optimistic and a potential buyer.

Perhaps I should have been more definitive about my position on the players the Astros obtained — when I said I have no idea if they will pan out, I truly meant I have no idea. I had never heard of these players until the information was sent to me that a trade was made. I do not study the prospects in other organizations and am in no position to decide if this was a good deal, or a bad deal. I make no apologies for that. I did want to offer some insight to who the Astros received in the trade from someone who makes a living from studying farm systems, so I went to the person I feel is the most knowledgeable on the topic — draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com.

You basically are saying I’m playing a company line because YOU turned to Keith Law for insight, and I did not? The blog was not intended to deem the trade a good trade or a bad trade. I will be able to figure that on my own, in about two, maybe three, years. There are a lot of analysts out there who are giving their two cents. One national “insider” on Thursday said the Astros were idiots for not taking the Phillies offer of Cosart and Singleton. That same writer blasted the organization last night for taking the Phillies up on their offer of Cosart and Singleton.

As a former beat writer who has had to sift through amazingly large and steamy piles of drivel over the years in an effort to get to the truth, you’ll forgive me if I don’t hang on every last word of the “experts.”

As far as the piece being condescending…I reread the post and I don’t see where that came into play and I am sorry if I came off that way. I presented the trade from a very real perspective and gave the reasons why it was made. I am not asking the fans to agree with me or disagree. I would love for more people to do their own homework and come to their own well-reasoned conclusions. My only intention was to present the facts are they stand today. And as it stands today, the Astros are on an historic pace. Unless they get it together, immediately, like, today, they are going to obliterate the club loss record. I have sat in the press box for the last five-plus years watching a team that is going nowhere. I’d like to see them get back to winning and I’d like that winning to start sooner than later. The Pence trades gives the Astros a fighting chance to speed up the rebuilding process. So while it’s sad to see a great player go, keeping him around just because he’s a nice diversion from a 100-plus loss season makes no sense to me. He’s going to price himself out of the market very soon. Wait another couple of years and then you get very little for him.

I have to disagree with your opinion that they could have gotten more for him in the offseason. Teams tend to be more vulnerable this time of year, when pennant races are on the line. Getting Hunter now, when they can smell a World Series, makes team act more impulsively than during the winter, when they have more time and clearer heads. Again, I have no idea if the Astros got enough in this trade. But this was the time to do it, not December.

Genuinely appreciate the reply. That you would take the time to peck out a response was very respectable on your part.

As to the condescension, let me clarify… I was mainly referring to:

“Most of the feedback I’ve heard from you all tonight has been mostly along the lines of “Why? Why? Why?” (I’m imagining clutched chests, pulled hair and heads banging against walls as well.) This trade can be explained many different ways and spun even more ways. But the facts are really pretty simple…”

Here’s my explanation:

First, I’m not ignorant that, indeed, many many fans have mostly reacted to this trade simply from an emotional gut-level. I’d caution, though, that there are a few of us and maybe even many of us, who reacted negatively, but out of what was going on in our left brain, not our right.

Second, the explanation given is, indeed, simple, and maybe those who reacted negatively out of their emotion needed to be given a dose of reason. But again, there seemed an assumption that all of those who think the trade was better left unconsummated can be lumped in with that group. No, many of us fully realize and even embrace the logic presented.

Third… let me preface, if you will… I recall Singleton was mentioned last year as a potential get in the Oswalt trade, but like you, I only pay attention to other systems’ minor league players when it appears to have some affect on the Stros. My point: ***I’m not asking you to make a determination of whether this is going to end up being a good trade. I’m asking you to take a gander at how national guys like Mayo perceive the overall trade, and then use the measure that Wade himself set for himself… tell me (or ask Mayo or anyone else you respect) if this, indeed, constituted an “overwhelming” offer for Pence.***

What does that matter at this point?

Fair question.

It matters because it says something important about how decisions are being made this weekend, and how they’re going to be made going forward. This trade sets a standard for how a Bourn trade will be pursued–essentially, the implication seems to be, we’re abandoning any leverage we have to say “we’ll wait to let other clubs compete at the winter meetings,” and have a fire sale on our hands. We should have come out of this trade with, at least, two viable prospects who are knocking on the big-club-door. Instead, odds say we’ll end up with one (given that these are high-A guys); and we’ll get less than that even out of a Bourn trade.

As to the disagreement that we could have gotten more in the off-season, that’s certainly arguable. And indeed, after wrestling with this, the only explanation I can figure for why Wade would back off and do this deal instead of waiting is that he became concerned with how Hunter hit a bump in the road after returning from the ASG… and that, indeed, things could very well go south over the remaining two months of the season. That has to be it.

(I know you argue the arbitration money could be substantial, but while I understand that, I don’t think that’s a valid line of reasoning if it’s the one Wade or Craneco has… you just can’t mind paying a guy what he’s worth if you’re ever going to succeed as a GM or owner.)

Thanks for your time. And btw, you and I are kindred spirits, I believe… I grew up an Astros fan, born unfortunately in the vicinity of Cincy, and I believe I understood you too grew up in the shadow of Riverfront Stadium. Happily, I finally had a career opp open up in Texas a couple of summers ago, so I finally got the chance to see the Astros in a stadium not on the Ohio River. :)

Who exactly is Wade working for? Every decent player we have is traded to the Phillies for somone far less talented. How much do you bet Wade goes back to the Phillies soon?Now that he has completely raided the Astros talent, he can go back to an even stronger Philly team. Sorry Astros but until Wade is gone, so am I.

This is why we Houston fans are considered one of the worst in sports. We suck! Come on people, look more into this trade. It is what’s best for everyone. Pence deserves to compete as high as he can while he’s at his peak. He’ll never be able to do that here. We got amazing prospects out of it. We will compete again, but one player can not do that. Did anyone even read Alyson’s article? Read it!

Mr. Dan took the words out of my mouth. Astro fans are so reactionary. Think back to the great Astro teams of the 90’s. Bagwell. Biggio. Bell. Reynalds. Lima. Hamilton. Wagner. etc. All where young talent we acquired in trades or drafted our selves.

The world series team? yes we singed guys like Pettite and Clemens but we also had Oswalt, Ensberg, Willy T, Lane, etc. So how do we get these players? You can’t steal young prospects in free agency. Teams have a lock down on the players they draft and you can only trade for them primarily.

Ultimately, you all just need to calm down and realize that Ed Wade has had the balls to get rid of players that were nothing but weighing down the franchises’ progress.

I love Pence. Don’t get me wrong. I think the way he plays the game, his humbleness, his work ethic, all are amazing and will be missed. But this trade was tough, and needed.

with all due respect, your effort to sell this trade to us is ridiculous. pence was the face of the franchise and while he could have ended up being expensive and old, his reaction was proof he was more likely to be one of those guys who would take less money to stay in Houston. in return, we got two high risk guys. cossart has had arm problems and his potential is downgraded from year to year as he fails to reach it. singleton is an alleged power hitter with minor league stats that reflect his power is average at best. he also doesnt appear likely to hit for average.

so we trade pence, oswalt and berkman in return for cossart (high risk, injury prone, no maturity), singleton (alleged power hitter who has shown no power), zaid (middle relief at best), unknown dude (but less of a prospect than even thede three), wallace (looking more and more like a bust), melancon (possibly an average closer but by no means a “lights out” guy), and paredes (a nice 2B maybe but look we already have a great looking 2B and we drafted Delino DeShields who is being groomed as a 2B. only one of the three can play everyday.)

this is yet another terrible trade. it sets us back another 8 years! pence had at least that much value. in addition, who will they market the team around now? carlos lee…uh no. michael bourn? oh wait! he’s probably next to go! apparel sales will crash and we will have less money to pay players. this just dug us deeper into a hole.

i will continue to wear the bag of shame on my head at games. this is a long nightmare that isnt ending soon!

I’m not trying to sell you on the trade and you have every right to disagree with the trade. I have no idea if these players will work out and neither do you. Or anyone else.

Well, maybe I was wrong to assume that you, as the director of social media for the Astros, had some kind of responsibility to sell the positive spin of the trade. Nevertheless, my reaction may have been slightly overstated (although I will continue to wear the “bag of shame” to any games I attend until they show signs of improving).

I did have a thought. Pence is a FA in a few years (and if the Phils run into payroll issues as I suspect they may since they required 2 million with Pence to keep under the luxury tax maybe he won’t be offered arbitration [one can hope])…this trade could be a steal if Cosart and Singleton turn out of be good players and Pence comes back to Houston at age 30.

Sadly it’s a good move. Pence was the only action we had and the only chip we could play to try and stay in the game.
While people get emotionally invested in their teams from a fan perspective they – like the owners and management – should learn to separate the emotional side of baseball from the business side of baseball.
As far as Ed Wade dealing with his old team is concerned I say this: If the Phillies (arguably one of the best teams in baseball in recent years) are THAT deep at the A-AAA level, I say we do all we can to decimate their farm club and build ours up. The Phillies have a consistently winning recipe and if they want to throw some ingredients our way I say take them.
The Astros got four top-50 minor leaguers that could have just as easily gone to the Cubs, Cards, Pirates, or Brewers. We got FOUR TOP-50 MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS FROM A TOP-TIER FARM SYSTEM. We can a) develop them and use them; or b) hold on to them and use them in a trade package later on.
Giving Ed Wade grief for this trade shows that some folks out there are fans of the result who posses no knowledge of the process.

To be fair, Gary, two of the four prospects are in the top 50 rankings. But your point is clear and valid. Wade gets a ton of flak for his dealings with his former team (I even said to myself a couple of days ago, ‘Wow, is he really going to deal Hunter to the Phils?!!?) But the reality of the situation is the Phillies have one of the most stacked farm systems in baseball. If they offered the best package for Hunter, should Ed have said, “No, can’t do it, Houston fans will be mad if I deal with the Phillies again.” He had to go with what he felt was the best offer. It’ll be a while before we know if that was the right decision.

Agreed… this argument about dealing too much with Philly would only be valid if it could be substantiated that his non-ex-Philly pick-ups had been better than those that did come from that organization.

That’s not the case.

Tedious, imo.

We ARE the Phillies farm team.

I understand the business end of the deal. Somewhere the word “sport” got lost and was replaced with “business”. What I do think is that it was disrespectful, and embarrassing, to pull Pence out of the game. I didn’t know that he stuck around for the rest of the game. If he wasn’t going to be air mailed to Philly. Why not let him finish the game? I know it happened other places, but that doesn’t make it right.

Bob, I’ve heard that sentiment from a few folks and I think there’s some confusion on how this part of it works. Once the trade is consummated, the players involved in the trade are no longer property of their former teams and absolutely cannot continue playing for said teams. Trades are long and complicated and can be completed at any hour, any time of day. The very second it’s done, action has to be taken immediately. If Hunter was property of the Phillies starting in the fifth inning, and he stayed in to finish out the game, and God forbid he slipped and fell and broke something and is out for the year, who’s responsibility is it? He’s playing a game for the Astros, but his contract belongs to the Phillies. The ramifications would be disastrous. Pulling players from games at the deadline is common practice and the rules are strict in that respect. It’s awkward and emotional for the player but that’s just how it is this time of year.

Thanks, Allyson. Great explanation. We are lucky to have you to keep us informed (in line?)

Great write up Alyson. I truly hope Hunter and Roy can get their rings. Well deserved.

I respect Wade for making a decision no one is going to like, everyone is going to disagree with, and has the potential to totally go wrong. I am excited to have 3 of the top 50 prospects in our system (Lyles, Cosart, and Singleton).

Crane is a baseball guy with knowledge of the game. There is no question that he approved this. I was honestly suprised that he put the future of the team in a deal like this in Wade’s hands. He has also set himself for a very hostile welcome once the deal is approved by MLB. So, I actually appreciate the guts demonstrated by him as well to make this decision. His 2nd decision was to trade the face of the franchise away. All decisions like this have costs and I am glad we have an owner that is willing to count them and make tough decisions. I do feel bad for Wade on the other hand because he may not get to enjoy the benefits of all of these moves once the deal is official. But, I would not at all be mad if the Ray’s GM came over to the ‘Stros. Look at Tampa’s farm system!

I am excited to see J.D. Martinez. I hope Villar and Peredes make it soon, too.

Thanks for the information Alyson. I agree with everyone that I hate to see Pence go. I love watching him play. But… I’ll disagree with many of the responders; I think it’s the right move for the Astros. Even disregarding the money aspects, the Astros need to rebuild with younger players. Realistically, it’s likely going to take about 5 years of rebuilding with good younger players to have a championship team. Pence (and some others) will be 33 then. The great players are still great at 33, but the ‘stros need more than a couple of great players. Currently, they have the worst record in MLB. They are on track to have one of the worst 10 (or 15) records EVER in MLB. Big changes need to be made. I wouldn’t mind them trading everyone that’s 28 or older. Let the younger guys play and develop. How much worse could it be? And getting back to the money – spend the money in the minor leagues for a couple of years. Get some of the best prospects and develop them.

blue grendel

I am and always will be a diehard Astro fan, and I will also always be a Hunter Pence fan. It was beyond painful to watch him go, but I will also say that being a huge fan of Hunter, it was much like watching your child go off to college or move far away for a great career opportunity, it hurts, but it’s also what’s best for him. He deserves a shot at being part of a World Series team, and now he has that opportunity. Go Astros and go Hunter Pence!!!!

Can we please trade Ed Wade! What a joke he’s been and continues to be.

I doubt these 4 new guys are going to fill seats like Hunter, Roy or Lance did.Hopefuly the new ownership will FIRE Wade and spend the money it takes to get the fans back in the seats and make the Astros a contender

MLB and baseball fans need each other. It’s a dependent relationship. The teams want the fans to love the team and the players and attend games. Then when management trades our beloved players, we call foul. Its a tough situation. Fans get tired of becoming emotionally invested in players and then have them go to other teams. Astros fans have had more than our fair share of this going on lately. I do think management should look at some intangibles that beloved players bring to the team – leadership, fan support, community support. Intellectually we understand about the need to make trades but emotionally we don’t like it. I think it was a mistake to trade Hunter. His intangibles are worth more than the finanacial side. I feel this was not a good trade for the team or the fans.

As a season-ticket holder further down in the Astros farm system (Double-A), J.D. Martinez will be a great addition to the Astros line-up. I was questioning why he was still at our level with his obvious success at Double-A. As a clean-up hitter he was batting over .300. To me the verdict is still out on Jonathan Villar and Jimmy Paredes. To me Paredes makes too many mistakes on the hot corner (one game in Tulsa which we were at the three errors committed by the Hooks were all his). I would really like to see Paredes getting dirty trying to get balls that are hit in his direction. Anyone who has seen David Flores now with Lancaster knows what I’m talking about.

Alyson, while I understand the “business” of baseball, I still think this trade could’ve been avoided if Ed Wade would be more wise with how he spends money. Rewarding Wandy with a bigger contract after he has done what?? Be mediocre. He is an average pitcher at best. Same with Brett Myers. On any other team he is a number 4 or 5 starter but since he is on the Astros Ed Wade gives him number 1 or 2 starter money and rewards him after one good year. The true problem with the Astros is Ed Wade and his inability to spend the money on the right talent. The Astros probably won’t trade Wandy or Myers because of the ridiculous money they are being paid. There is also no guarantee that Hunter would’ve commanded 15-20 million a yr. And now that we have another 1st base prospect, what are they gonna do about Wallace? I followed Hunter through the minors and was lucky enough to meet him earlier in the year and get a picture with him when he was out and about in Houston in January. He truly is not only a good ball player but an even better approachable guy. And why not get major league ready prospects instead of players who are still in Class A ball? I’m not even gonn go into the whole trade to the Phillies again. It is too obvious that when it comes to managing money, Ed Wade is not the guy for the job. I was hoping that the Astros would build around Hunter but now that they aren’t I wish Hunter all the best. He deserves it and he will be greatly missed. If Jim Crane thinks that he is gonna be able to put a championship type team on the field with guys who are maybe making 3-5 million he is sadly mistaken. Get Carlos Lee’s contract off the books and you will have money to actually reward players who are deserving of it.

Alyson—-Most (if not all) of us are just “venting” because our hearts are broken.
We understand, this is a business, and the moves made are not popular ones.
Please accept my apology for “unloading”. We love our ‘Stros, and we have had
our hearts ripped out two years in a row. We ALL wish Hunter the very best, and
hope he and Roy will do us proud, by winning the World Series this year. THAT
will make us proud, that they played here *FIRST*!! Although, I absolutely HATE to
see Lance in a St. Louis uniform!! I know you are tired, and reading these posts
are not your favorite things to do. Tell the boys we still LOVE THEM ALL, and thick
or thin, we will ALWAYS love our Astros.:) :) :) Get some much needed rest, and
so will we! Thanks for EVERY THING you do for “us”. We always look forward to your
great pictures, and stories. Thanks, Becky:) :) :) :) :)

I understand the business of baseball – much like corporate America must make hard choices to lay people off for survival of the company, baseball teams must make unpopular moves for what they consider to be the survival of their team. However, sometimes it’s about maintaining morale with the ones left behind. From my perspective, Hunter Pence is in the same class as Craig Biggio. Every team needs players like that – baseball thrives because of them. Hunter has the qualities that make a player “the face of” a baseball team. We’re faceless now… and that makes morale lower than low. Maybe not for the players, as I know we take it all way more seriously than they do, but as a lifetime fan, this is a kick in the gut.

I can’t wait for all the options for owning season tickets. I mean, with all these supposed bandwagon jumpers across the interwebs (FB, twitter, and the blogosphere), I should be able to score some really nice options for upcoming seasons. Don’t worry, “fans”…I’ll gladly sell you my Marlins, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Nationals tickets at a “fair” (StubHub adjusted) price when the team turns around.

Hi Alyson – There’s no other way to say it – my heart broke watching Hunter walk through the dug out, saying good bye to the team. I don’t have many fond thoughts for Roy, although I respect his talent, and I can’t stand watching Lance in a Cards uniform. But, Pence? I’ll cheer for him, no matter where he plays or what uniform he wears. Through all the turmoil last year, and this, he just kept digging in and playing hard. He never pouted or sulked. He just conducted himself like the professional, terrific guy he is. More than anything, I’m sorry for all the kids who love him, who come faithfully to the right field stands every game. I hope those kids don’t lose their love for the game. I wish J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve all the best of luck, and for our other 2 “Mighty Mites” – Michael “Catch me if you Can” Bourn and Jason “Vive le” Bourgeois – I hope they continue to light it up, every single night. :) Thanks for all your great reporting, Alyson – in spite of the pain, we appreciate you, very much. Go ‘Stros!

I just want to figure out how to write a post that gets a comment. That would make me feel important. Thanks for all your hard work Alyson, your blog is my favorite part of Astros.com. Well, excluding the stubhub link. I realize that we are in a major rebuilding phase and I’m looking forward to a return to some winning ways, but I’m beginning to wonder where the line should be drawn on too old/too expensive. How far away are we from being competitive? 5 years ( I sure hope not but probably so), will bourn or hunter be washed up at that point? You have to pay someone if you, want to win, Hunter is a solid pro why not him? I don’t think he’d be a break the bank contract (a la Mr. Lee). I realize pieces have to be in place to return to winning and we are desperately short on those, but taking gambles on prospects stinks. I hope it pans out; I just hate that I’m running out of bright spots to focus on. Plus now my Pence jersey is outdated, I’ll just have to wear it in defiance now.

Andrew, thanks for your nice comments. Your concerns are valid. I don’t know how long it will take to be competitive again but the fact is the Astros are lowering payroll and shifting the focus solely to scouting, the draft and player development. Pence’s price tag will soon be too high to stay, and he’s at his very peak right now and can net the highest return. The rebuilding process takes a long time. Trading Pence can help speed up the process by want he can fetch on the trade market. There are no easy answers. This stinks for fans. But the Astros want to do what the Rays, Rangers, Brewers and to some extent Reds are doing – build the farm system to sustain long term health. They want to get good and stay good.

As a long time fan like many of you, i’ve suffered through so many of these cycles it is heart breaking, but I’m comforted that our cycle will once again come around and like Cruz-Cedeno, Bagwell-Biggio and other winning periods we will rise again if from nothing more that the faith of the faithful fans. I will admit I wish Wade had went the deal with the Braves or another organization because it makes us look like a farm system for the Phillies. I think he is trying to do a good job, but I feel like he is our version of Jerry West when he ship Gasol to the Lakers and then you see those guys raising championship trophies again and again. I don’t ever remember a deal hurting us worst than the Carlos Lee contract, although those pictures a few years ago with Drabek and other were pretty bad. That move kills us. I feel bad for Wallace, but Lee needs to be parked at 1B and let the youth get their at bats and maybe in 2012 we will see a glimmer. The Pirates offer us some hope that even bad teams rise. I can remember the Brewers being our whipping boy and they had to part with CC to help move their organization forward. Maybe we will have the same sucess. At least we have Norris and 3/4 of a infield that looks promising after last nights performance and Bourne is still worth the price of admission. Let’s all say a prayer for Happ and Myer to make it through the season so we don’t have the worst record error. Go Astrossssss. PS. Seeing Berkman in that Cards uniform is sicking to me, but as a fan of his I’m happy he has a chance to make it to the big dance one more time. Roy may beat him there though, even if it is on injured reserve.

I go way back and remember the Rusty Staub trade to Pittsburgh for a wore out player named Donn CLendenning who retired from baseball before he would come to Houston. I have no doubt in my mind that Ed Wade and McClaine are both turning the Astros into a farm team for the other MLB teams. This is why I havent payed to go to a game since Bagwell retired. Never again! Wade and McCLaine have both did what they do best which is to destroy a once good baseball team. I will be glad to never see McClaine`s face again on Astro websites. I`ll go with the Texas Rangers. At least with Nolen Ryan they have some competence about their business and with baseball. Good riddance to the Astros. Hello Texas Rangers…

Everything has already been said. I know there have to be trades each time we are going to get upset. But we always get over it. The biggest mistake was getting rid of Jerry H as GM. But getting rid of Pence and Berkman was really heart breakers. And I believe one that will stick far a long time. They were the Astros new Biggio and Bagwell. These young players need some guidance and they could have given it to them. As far as Berkman and Pence they are surely in a better place.

Rebuilding is painful.

I miss Scrap Iron.

I don’t understand why Brett is being platooned.

Karen and I are going to Coaches in Katy to watch Pence’s first start as a Phillie.

I keep hearing that its about the “business” of baseball. Well, its a “business” to the team owner and management, but for the fans its a “game”. When it stops being a “game” to the fans, the “business” is in jeopardy. For this fan, a large part of the Astros’ “game” left yesterday.

I keep thinking that the Astros should unload everyone and talk to MLB about becoming a minor league team. There is very little reason to spend the money on tickets and concessions at MMP right now.

I’m not upset that the Astros traded HP. I get it and understand it. What I am upset over is what we got in return. It is always the same thing. We trade a player off, send money to the team we traded with, and in return we get players to be named later. No wonder other GMs want to trade with us. We pay them to take our talent. Is Ed Wade and the Astros the laughing stock of the league? It just seems that we could have gotten a better deal for HP than what we got.

I’m waiting to see who else gets dealt before I start cheering for the “Astros North” or as MLB calls them, Phillies.

Miss Alyson…..Do you hear of any names involved in the possibele Hunter to Atlanta trade.One mane I heard mentioned was Mike Minor. Thanks…D… Astros fan in NC

OK, I’m over the outbursts. My gripe remains: Wade should have been able to get at least one almost-there solid player, especially if he was willing to keep the Phils under the luxury tax radar with cash. The team will need a cornerstone to build around – one with heart, already an experienced vet with solid tools, and not yet too old. Putting Hunter under a multi-year contract within the next year would have done that. Instead we got prospects, some or none of whom might get here, but still leaving that gaping heart/hustle/role model hole in the team.
If Wade couldn’t get one closer to ready, or without the cash (which we’re supposed to be saving/cutting, I hear), then he pulled the trigger on much less than Pence could have brought. Since he’s under control for as much longer as he is, there was time. Even Bourn still has time (I remember reading last nite that he’s still eligible for arb this off-season?) from that perspective – of course as a Boras client, he’s more the rental now. But bottom line, it still feels like Wade got fleeced. And by the time we find out, he’ll probably be elsewhere too.
I’ll keep watching, like I have since I could crawl, but this one feels wrong.
Meh.
Keep bringing it straight, Directrix.
Peace from the Great NorthWet.

I am first and foremost a Corpus Christi Hooks fan. We have seen many good and not so good players over the past 7 years and I get attached to all of them. It is so hard to see them leave. I am happy for them when they get a chance to move up and it breaks my heart when they are let go or moved down. I would prefer that “my boys” play for the Astros only becase Houston is close enough for me to see a game now and then. I am happy for the guys if they get a chance to play for any team in MLB, preferably one that will give them a chance to play full time and hopefully for a team with a winning record. Hunter will be missed greatly but I am hoping he will finally get a chance to be on the winning side for a change. Best wishes to Hunter from one of his many Hooks fans.

I think it was a great trade. Not happy that he went to Philly, but since Wade came from there it doesnt suprise me. Wade has helped Philly as much as he could with Oswalt and now Pence. It is obvious that he still wants to see Philly win another championship. Most GM’s tradw with their old team, but usually it is to help their new team not their old team. It is time for Wade to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, Alyson, for all your come-back comments and rebuttals as well as your honest opinions in all your articles. While you may find the comments app a pain, you do read them, and the Astros fans (okay, maybe I am speaking for one) – as well as your fans – appreciate it. I hope you don’t get traded any time soon!

Somebody is going to pay Pence the money when his contract is up. Why couldn’t that team had been the Astros. We are in the biggest market in the country with only one MLB team.

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