Astros, Blue Jays both benefit from 10-player deal
Here's to you, Jeff Luhnow. You too, Alex Anthopoulos. Nice work, fellas. You gave us all something to chew on, and after months of mostly gossip and guessing, we owe both of you.
To come up with a trade that involves 10 players, that included dozens of text messages, e-mails and chats, to do a deal that makes absolutely perfect sense for both teams is good, solid work.
Almost no one makes that kind of mega-deal anymore. Roland Hemond would approve. So would Jack McKeon.
They were once two of the great traders in the history of our game. To do a 10-player trade pays tribute to the good old days, when general managers would set up shop at the Winter Meetings and not leave until they'd done something memorable.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. When you heard the Blue Jays and Astros had completed a 10-player deal, you perked up and rolled the names through your mind.
Wandy Rodriguez? Brett Myers? Rajai Davis? Travis Snider? No, it wasn't that kind of deal. There were plenty of names, but there were no big deals.
Left-hander J.A. Happ probably was the biggest name in the deal, and he'd be the first to tell you he's not going to stop traffic.
This wasn't that kind of trade. This was a trade that made sense for both teams, but it wasn't one of those franchise-changing swaps.
Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. Now THAT was a deal that shook the world, or at least our little corner of the world.
Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith? That one had people buzzing for days.
John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander wasn't a bad one to chew on, either. And of course, there's always Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell.
Still, this was a really good trade for both teams in terms of here and now. These two franchises are in different places, and both got what they wanted out of it.
Let's call it an inventory trade.
The Blue Jays began the day 3 1/2 games out in the American League Wild Card race. They've got six teams to pass.
In a normal season, their odds of making the playoffs would be very long. But this isn't a normal season, what with twentysomething teams still in contention.
Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays general manager, made three veteran acquisitions for his pitching staff, and he did it without giving up any of his best prospects. He also opened a playing spot for outfielder Travis Snider in Toronto.
Right-hander Brandon Lyon is a smart, tough competitor who is capable of pitching late in games. He hasn't been inconsistent this season, and again, the Blue Jays didn't give up premium prospects.
The Blue Jays acquired another right-hander, David Carpenter, who throws hard and has occasionally shown flashes of being a Major League pitcher.
As for Happ, he has never quite fulfilled the promise he showed when coming up with the Phillies. Anthopoulos, mindful that Happ is averaging 9 strikeouts per 9 innings, will put him in the bullpen until he needs a starter.
It's easy to see both Happ and Lyon making a significant contribution to the Blue Jays down the stretch. Is either of them the front-line pitcher Anthopoulos would like to acquire? No, but he didn't give up his best young players, either.
Luhnow, the Astros' first-year general manager, got exactly what he wanted out of the trade. He acquired three Class A players, and if just one of them ends up contributing when the Astros are good again, it'll be a good deal. Right-handers Joe Musgrove and Asher Wojciechowski have drawn rave reviews from scouts.
Luhnow also got veteran reliever Francisco Cordero and outfielder Ben Francisco, and don't be surprised if both of them are moved before Sept. 1. At the very least, they become assets for Luhnow's ongoing reconstruction of the Astros.
He still has business to do. Rodriguez and Myers could be decent additions to a contending team, and Luhnow won't hang up on a general manager asking about shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Best of all, because there are so many players involved in the deal, it's a deal that fans of both teams can look back on for years. For the Blue Jays, it's about today. For the Astros, it's about building.
It's not a trade that will cause fans of either team to go running through the streets screaming with joy. On the other hand, it was a really nice day for both organizations. Not an earth-shaking day, but a good one. If nothing else, it was a really good start to the trading season. Now, the rest of you guys get busy.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.