Posted: 4:52 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, 2013
By David Coleman
With one fell swoop, Houston eliminated one of its most tenured players from the lineup. They added talent across the board, grabbing a young, versatile fielder who may not be a long-term starter, a young pitcher with plenty of upside and a draft pick that may end up in the 30s in a deep draft.
It's an underwhelming haul for Houston's ostensible No. 1 starter, sure, but the question it raises is when will the trades stop?
The oldest player left in Houston's lineup tonight is 27. Most of the lineup will be 23 or 24 or 22. Over the past two seasons, Houston has officially delivered a youth movement that is in full effect right now.
There are still pieces to flip, though. Jason Castro could get expensive. Is he part of a core group of players here? Chris Carter is a young, powerful bat, but is he young enough? What about Brett Wallace? Carlos Corporan? Trevor Crowe? As you approach 30, do you lose the chance to be part of Houston's next wave of contending teams?
The date pegged by the team appears to be 2015. By then, prospects will be up and established. Guys like George Springer, Jarred Cosart and Asher Wojciechowski will have settled in at a position with guys like Carlos Correa ready to break in at any time. Mark Appel should be established in the rotation by then, too.
But, there's a fine line teams will walk between growing for the future and giving away talent forever. Remember when Kansas City used to give away all its players to the Yankees, like a farm team or something? Of course you don't, you're under the age of 40 (probably).
Houston doesn't want to get there. I'm sure they don't think they're headed that direction, either.
But, there's a very, very fine line to walk between The Plan and mediocrity. Houston is straddling it right now, but the more and more times veterans are ushered out the door, the more and more they teeter.
Of course, this all could just be part of the process, getting the team set up with players Luhnow's front office likes. Justin Maxwell was a good player, with great defense in center field, but LJ Hoes may fit the Luhnow profile better. He gets on base and hits for a high average. No Astros in the current lineup can really say those things.
At some point, the trades will stop. Houston will start doing things like Oakland, flipping a stalled prospect for a major leaguer who can help them win now. Maybe they'll flip another closer next summer and maybe they'll find a spot for Chris Carter somewhere else, since they have a plethora of first base/DH talent.
Maybe they'll still be here, though. At some point, these guys will start building the core of successful team. At some point, Houston will enter the trade deadline time as something other than a complete seller.
Until then, let's enjoy the youth on display.
After all, this team just got a whole lot younger in two moves.