Three years ago: Revisiting 2012 Astros trades

“They” say that trades cannot be judged until three years have passed. This blog has attempted unsuccessfully to locate and bring in “them” for an interview, but in general “their” wisdom is probably a decent baseline for looking at trades.

The Astros are likely to make a deadline trade in the next few days, but there is no way this will match the wheeling and dealing that occurred in July 2012. Remember those trades were performed mostly to dump salary and age from a team that was in deliberate tank mode. The results were frankly pretty ugly for both sides involved.

July 4, 2012. Carlos Lee was sent packing to the Marlins for Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen.

Analysis. Carlos was at the end of the road and making serious cash. Most fans were surprised they got more than a bucket of balls for him. El Caballo knocked in 48 runs in 81 games (while posting the worst batting average and OPS of his career) and then retired. Matty D came in and played well the last month of 2012 and then watched his bat get worse rather than better in 2013 and 2014 until he was sent back to the minors this season and released. Rasmussen was flipped for pitcher John Ely, who never overcame injuries to do anything.

Winner. Slight advantage Astros – as they got something out of what looked like nothing at the time.

July 20, 2012. Mega-trade with the Blue Jays as the Astros send J.A. Happ, David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon north for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, Asher Wojciechowski, David Rollins, Carlos Perez, Kevin Comer and Joseph Musgrove.

Analysis. Happ gave the Blue Jays his normal mediocre, mind numbing, starting pitching for the equivalent of two seasons, Carpenter was bad for half a season and then traded with manager John Farrell to the Bosox. Lyon had a nice half season and then was released. For the Astros, Cordero was almost immediately released, and Francisco was traded for flotsam (Theron Geith – who? right). Rollins was pretty good in the minors, grabbed by Seattle in the Rule 5 and immediately suspended for PEDs. Comer has rattled around the lower minors. Perez was part of the trade that brought Hank Conger in to back up Jason Castro. Wojo has proved to be a AAAA type pitcher so far, but he is a flyball pitcher and might thrive elsewhere (San Diego anyone?). Musgrove, who was 19 when the trade occurred is the wild card in the bunch. At 22 he was brilliant at pitcher-killer Lancaster and is pitching well at AA. If, he became a solid starter for the big club, this trade would be a positive.

Winner. Slight advantage to the Blue Jays that could be wiped out by one Joe Musgrove.

July 21, 2012. Brett Myers was traded to the White Sox for Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters and Chris Devenski.

Analysis. Myers gave the White Sox a nice two months of pitching and then was not re-signed. Heidenreich and Walters pitched extremely badly for the Astros minor league teams, were let go and are now pitching in other organizations at A+ ball at the ages of 24 and 25 respectively. Devenski is the Astros last chance to get something from this trade as he is pitching very well at Corpus (2.64 ERA and 1.128 WHIP). But remember he is a 24-year-old (turning 25 in November) at AA.

Winner. The White Sox needed a short-term rental and they got good work out of Myers without giving up really anything. Devenski could flip this, but he has to get to the majors soon if he will at all.

July 24, 2012. Wandy Rodriguez is sent to the Pirates for Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain.

Analysis. Wandy pitches solidly for the remainder of 2012, pitches well, but is injured in 2013 and is terrible and released in 2014. Cain is not Abel (terrible pun intended) to pitch above AA for the Astros. Owens fought through injuries and made one major league start for the Astros before being released. Grossman has had flashes in parts of 3 seasons with the big club, but he is currently floundering at AAA Fresno and would seem to be a prime candidate to give up his seat at the 40 man roster spot table.

Winner. Pirates win this one. I always felt like we did not get a great deal for Wandy, who had been a very solid pitcher for the Astros. Would have hoped to get at least one very good prospect for him.

July 29, 2012. Chris Johnson is shipped to the D’Backs for Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss.

Analysis. CJ had a nice stretch (35 RBIs in 44 games) for Arizona, but they immediately made him a throw-in on the Justin Upton trade with the Braves. Borchering butchered the minors while Kraus butchered the majors.

Winner. D’Backs are a slight winner, but really neither side got much from this trade in the end.

In general, none of these trades moved the meter much for either team and only a bust out by a Musgrove or Devenski could likely make any of these trades memorable for the Astros.


  • What do you think about the winners as rated above?
  • The Astros also had 4 trades before the 2012 season even began – how do you rate these?
  1. Marco Duarte traded to Boston for Marwin Gonzalez
  2. Mark Melancon traded to Boston for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland
  3. Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero to KC for KC (Kevin Chapman) and D’Andre Toney
  4. Justin Ruggiano to Miami for Jobduan Morales

41 comments on “Three years ago: Revisiting 2012 Astros trades

  1. We made a lot of bad trades, player wise. But if the intent of the trade was salary dump, then each of them was successful in accomplishing that. All of it meant to a period of loss on the field and in the stands and in the hearts and minds of people in baseball. Now, we are trying to win that respect back, one prospect and one hit batman at a time.


  2. None of the trades profiled paid immediate dividends, but that may in part be because the overall team was so bad. At the same time, none of the trades hurt us. As for winners, the big winner in the Toronto trade was Becky…but most of us will agree getting anything for Lyon was a pleasant surprise.

    As for the four trades before the season, 1. Win 2. Win 3. Push 4. Loss. I don’t think 3 or 4 really mattered though.


    • I just got a huge laugh when I looked at the astros .com Top 30 Astros prospects.
      Here are Joe Musgrove’s grades:
      So how does a pitcher have everything at average or above average on his individual grades and below average on his overall?
      By the way, Musgrove is currently our #13 prospect with that 45 overall grade. That is the same overall grade for Musgrove as our #30 prospect, Joan Mauricio, an 18 year old SS in the GCL. That is also the same overall grade as the #30 prospect in the Athletic’s organization, one of the worst minor leagues in baseball.
      I’m thinking desperately needs to upgrade their grading and ranking system. It’s pathetic. Maybe they should start using computers.


  3. Well I guess we did dump a lot of salary on a team and an organization that was in the toilet thanks to Big Daddy Drayton. Hmm so maybe Musgrove and Santana and 2 AAAA dudes Wojo and Obie( trade bait)


  4. It is kind of amazing that out of all those trades, only 3 guys are on the current 40 man – MarGo, Grossman and Wojalphabet and MarGo is the only real solid one on the 40 man.
    Have to agree that Musgrove could be the big plum out of all those trades – but it is a long way from Corpus to Houston baseball-wise.


  5. I love the first paragraph of your post: They, Them, Their. You bring up a terrific point, Dan: Who are they, and who the heck do they think they are?
    What did “they” say when the Astros drafted a 17 year old Puerto Rican SS as the 1.1?
    What did “they” say when we made a young and tiny AA player our starting second baseman?
    Did “they” know that LMJ and VV would be pretty good starting pitchers in our rotation by mid season? How did “they” miss that?
    How come Kemmer and White and Gregor and Nottingham didn’t show up on “their” radar at all before the season started and still don’t today? How come those guys are outplaying “their” top prospects?
    How do “they” know that Boston has the top minor league system when “they” can’t even grade prospects properly.
    How did “they” make Singleton the best Minor league1B prospect for 3 years, when he cant hit higher than .256 at AAA?
    I don’t think prospects miss near as often as the “they/them/their” experts do.


  6. From the Grizzlies’ webmaster: “Joe Sclafani hadn’t seen the batters box in two days, but he led the offensive charge for the first-place Fresno Grizzlies (57-41) as they defeated the Las Vegas 51s (56-42) by a score of 12-4 at Cashman Field on Wednesday night. The Dartmouth grad extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 3-5 with a triple and a season-best four RBI, which were his most in a game since August 9, 2014 vs. Iowa.”

    I wonder what Joe’s rating might be?


      • And you, Dave b and I might answer [well, after a couple of beverages of choice]: “I am talking about Jilted Joe, the Yanked-Around Clipper – the guy you want on your team because whatever it takes, he just gets it done. Now, politely go stick that in your algorithm and process it.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll take “Three Years Ago’ for $100 please.

        Answer One: Who did the Astros trade away in 2012?

        That is correct.

        Let’s try ‘Three Years Ago’ for $200.

        Answer Two: Who did the Astros acquire by trade in 2012?

        That is correct.

        Now I’ll take ‘Three Years Ago’ for $300

        Answer Three: Who was the Astros’ 14th round draft choice in the 2012 MLB draft?

        That is also correct. And that is the buzzer for the daily double.


  7. To make any sense of the lopsided trades this organization made, is who was making these trades, and who the owner was. Ed wade thought he was getting the most bang for the buck, but when you trade your brother your best marble, for a sack full of marbles you haven’t even seem….you think *you* got the best deal! Give one…get many. Of the players listed above that we got back, only a couple of guys are still here. Oberholtzer is in Fresno, villerror is in Fresno (forever….I hope) and santana will probably be in a trade in the next week, and singleton looks completely lost a the plate. This brings me to the question of trusting Jeff luhnow. So far I haven’t seen a big failure yet….but as with anything, you don’t know how a guy is gonna work out, until you see him play. Chris carter came as advertised, he had a very high strike out, but when he connected…..he hit mammoth homeruns.


  8. The “baby” Astros were not included in my previous post, because it’s difficult to know what they are going to bring to the big club until they get here. These are several in that group who might be in a trade this year, or in a trade over the winter.


  9. I wish we could have kept Nottingham considering Castro sucks , but everything good has to hurt a bit. I guess they didn’t want Cater or Stassi back


    • All things considered, neither Mengden nor the Sheriff were helping us until 2017 at the earliest. I’m glad Luhnow did not part with Phillips, to be honest. Kazmir wore out in the second half last year. Hopefully he doesn’t tire this year.


  10. Oh hell yeah!!! Kind of disappointed to see Jacob Nottingham go, as …ah who the hell am I kidding….welcome (back*) to the Astros Kazmir!

    Now if we can just get rid of that doofus Castro I’ll be happy.

    *Yup…he pitched for us in the spring of 2012 and got cut. Oddly enough, he didn’t pitch too well for the Skeeters either. Had an average year with Cleveland the following year, and returned to form after that.


  11. And how ironic that the main subject of this post concerns trades, and we make a trade the same day. Just like discussing Tucker led to him going on a tear.

    Hmmm;…clairvoyant much?


    • Keuchel said on Twitter: “Lefty discrimination no longer!! Welcome home AND welcome aboard @scottkazmir19 .. Looking forward to that” — Dallas Keuchel ‏@kidkeuchy


  12. So, I go with my family to a movie and lunch and the Astros make the big deal. I like this because they have a decent chance to re-sign him to stay here. Would love to set up lefty – righty Keuchel / LMJ / Kazmir / McHugh in the rotation.
    Sorry to see Nottingham go – but can’t get something for nothing.


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