For the third year in a row the Houston Astros will be sellers at the MLB trade deadline and moving some notable veterans. Carlos Lee has already joined the ranks of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn as players who changed uniforms at the trade deadline. The next player will most likely be starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, a move the Astros absolutely need to make this season.
The team has once again struggled and when they start to show promise, like the .500 record they had after two months of this season, they quickly fall back to earth. Add in the fact that Rodriguez is starting to get up there in age; it is time for Houston to swing a deal involving the lefty. These are the top five reasons why it is imperative to move Wandy Rodriguez this season.
Wandy Rodriguez has been at the major league level for eight years and has made at least 20 starts each of those seasons and four of those he started 30 or more games. The miles are starting to add up on the left-handed pitcher. If the Astros try and wait one more year, they may end up getting a lot less in return.
The one benefit of waiting until next year is that Wandy is in the final year of his contract with 2014 being a team option. Teams may be more willing to take on his salary then, but the problem is that if Rodriguez is traded, that team option becomes a player option.
However, the Astros have already shown a willingness to pay large portions of players contracts in previous trades and if they are willing to do that, they could ask for better prospects this season.
Wandy Rodriguez is not a No. 1 ace for a staff but can be a very good No. 2 or 3 for a playoff team. He has shown over the past three years what he is capable of and been pretty consistent over that time.
Whichever team trades for Wandy can expect an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50 and eight strikeouts per nine innings. He will pitch about 200 innings a season with a record around .500, which could improve with a better offense supporting him. These are not bad numbers and they have stayed pretty consistent the past three to four seasons.
The Houston Astros are the furthest team from a playoff spot this year and it doesn't look like they will be competing any time soon. The Astros showed a little promise this season and at one point had a record of 22-23 and were only four games back of the division lead.
This is a distant memory as the team has dropped 15 of their past 17 games and continues their slide to a No. 1 pick in next year's draft. As I mentioned earlier, Wandy is not getting any younger and by the time the team is in contention, Wandy will most likely be past his prime and wouldn't be able to contribute to a playoff team.
It seems to be a truth accepted among fans that the National League is much more pitcher-friendly than the American League. This makes sense due to the fact the American League has the DH while the National League requires pitchers to hit.
It is better to move Wandy this year before the Astros head to the American League next season and see his numbers slip due to the tougher competition. Within the division, the Astros will have to face the Rangers, who have the best offense in the game right now, and the Angels who have Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Not to mention play the Yankees and Tigers more frequently than in years past.
Even though the Astros' major league team has been bad, their farm system has greatly improved over the past few seasons thanks to these midseason trades. It is important to give some of these prospects the opportunity to show what they are capable of now while the team is struggling.
One of those players is Dallas Keuchel, who pitched above expectations in his brief run with the Astros. In four games with Houston he went 1-1 with an ERA of 2.45 and threw the only complete game of the season for Houston.
It is important to give these guys the chance to pitch at the major league level and go through growing pains while the team is struggling and not in a playoff race. However, Houston cannot do that with pitchers like Wandy Rodriguez holding one of the rotation spots.