Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/21/12
When the ten player trade between the Astros and Blue Jays was announced on Friday it started analysists and pundits to start thinking. Sometimes that is a dangerous thing. In this Twitter Age opinions are more common than 100 degree temperatures in Phoenix. Some of those opinions have some validity. So what do I think? I think the move was a solid one for both teams. That is what a trade is supposed to do. The Blue Jays are in at least a wild card race. They have had numerous pitching injuries. They needed experienced hurlers. J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon filled that bill. Happ was the key. While they may not use him as a starter immediately that is why they picked him up. Happ was not consistently good for the Astros, but showed he could be. Lyon will be serviceable reliever. Neither pitcher is locked into a long term contract that could bind the Blue Jays to pitchers they may not wish to keep long term. David Carpenter who begins in AAA may wind up the most important long term acquisition for the Jays. As for the Astros the two major leaguers that came to the club, Ben Francisco and Francisco Cordero don't have any long term commitments either. For the time being they can help this team win a few more games than they have lately. They are not part of the long term future. The REST of the trade is where the Blue Jays took a risk and the Astros can have hope. There are five minor league players (including one to be named later) changing their allegiance from Toronto to Houston. At least three of the five were highly regarded in a deep Toronto farm system. The Astros would hope that at least one or two of that number turn into above average long term major leaguers. Jeff Luhnow has indicated that pitcher Asher Wojciechowski could wind up on a fast track and at least be in the major league camp next spring. Twenty-one year old catcher Carlos Perez of Venezuela will also be watched closely. Scouts think he will be able to hit and play above average defense. None of the new players will be pushed but will move up when they earn the chance. With the deeper system now in place competition will be stiff. And that is a good thing. Baseball is a game of percentages and that includes how many of the players developed in the system can rise successfully to the top. Jeff Luhnow and his staff are acquiring as much highly regarded talent as possible be it through the draft or trades to increase the odds of finding major league talent and hopefully stars. A deep system also allows for future deals when the club IS a contender and needs to acquire an established major league veteran. The beauty of this big trade was that there is really no downside for the Astros. If none of the minor league players develops nothing is lost. Neither Happ nor Lyon were going to be part of the long term future. Neither Francisco or Cordero are expected to be either. Only the Blue Jays could regret the deal if they do not earn a post season berth this season and some of the youngsters they sent to Houston DO develop into solid major league players that help the Astros win in a few years. However, playing the percentage game Toronto knows the risk is far less than any glowing scouting reports on the young guys might make it seem. Nothing is certain in baseball. While we are always most concerned with the major league club what the Astro system has been doing on the minor league level is amazing. In just one year Luhnow and his staff has transformed nearly every team on every level from under performing losers with few real major league prospects into winners with multiple prospects at many positions. This is not only good for improving the lot of the future Astros, but it has made a lot of Astro minor league affiliates very happy. The power that has been built in Oklahoma City has transformed the club. And don't forget, those guys are learning not only how to win, but that it is fun. Building a winning attitude that can be carried to the major league club is a big reason why teams want their minor league clubs to win in addition to developing individual players. And by being on a minor league winner those same players can be having a good time while waiting a big league call and not griping when they don't get one. It may not look like it when watching the Astros daily this season, but the roots of a new successful era are growing. Trades like the one made on Friday are like fertilizer for those roots. They grow faster.
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