Out with the old, in with the new: The struggling Houston Astros shed another member of their pitching staff Tuesday, sending 33-year-old starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a trio of minor leaguers.
Houston has been stockpiling youngsters in an effort to rebuild, dismantling the old guard piece by piece, with Rodriguez the latest hurler to go. He was 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 starts at the time of the transaction.
The left-hander is one of the more consistent pitchers in the game, with at least nine winsâ"but never more than 14â"each season between his 2005 rookie campaign and 2011. Between 2007 and 2011, he never struck out less than 131 batters, while posting a strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio of 8.2.
In return, the âStros receive minor league pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain, and outfielder Robbie Grossman.
24-year-old Owens, a 2012 Triple-A All-Star, has a .595 winning percentage in six seasons on the farm. He is 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts so far this year.
Cain, 21, was an eighth-round draft pick by the Pirates in 2009. He is 10-15 with a 4.04 ERA in 55 minor league games.
The speedy Grossman is an intriguing prospectâ"he has stolen as many as 35 bases and hit as many as 13 home runs in a single season. However, he is also a free-swinger, with a career-high of 164 Ks in one campaign.
It will be interesting to see how the Astrosâ rebuilding project pans out. They already shipped J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter to the Toronto Blue Jays for seven players, including four minor leaguers and a player to be named later, and Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox for two minor leaguers. Earlier this month, on July 4, they sent Carlos Lee to Miami for two young players.
Though it will take time for the slew of incoming youngsters to develop, making the Astros a team with little chance of success in the near future, they now have the inchoate makings of a solid core of players. With youth-filled pitching staffs and lineups on the horizon, the Astros could be successful contenders once again in just a few years.