The Houston Astros finished tearing down their long-struggling club ahead of the MLB Trade Deadline Saturday, trading kind-of-star Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies for top prospects Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart, as well as reliever Josh Zeid and a player to be named later.
Pence was the Astros' All-Star in 2011 and the last vestige of the competitive teams of the middle of the last decade, and ownership was apparently reluctant to trade the last star the fans had to hang onto. But the Phillies' offer will go a long way toward rehabilitating a minor league system that was often treated as though the Astros were still perennial contenders, and with 2012 already a lost cause GM Ed Wade pulled the trigger on Pence, who will replace departed free agent Jayson Werth in the Phillies' order.
Singleton, a 19-year-old outfielder/first baseman who's already arrived in high-A ball, has hit .284/.387/.413 with nine home runs in 93 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Cosart, 21, is 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts in the same league and possesses a mid-nineties fastball.
The Astros appear to have gotten the better of this deal at first glance, but fan reaction is understandably mixed; the Astros' last recognizable player is Michael Bourn, and their current leader in home runs is Carlos Lee, with 10. With Wandy Rodriguez still on the block, this team is going to get more anonymous still before it gets better...