An old friend returns to Minute Maid Park
With the boys in brick red and ugly pinstripes playing so badly and focusing on 2013, one of the more interesting story-lines that has been put on the back-burner is the return of Hunter Pence. Remember that guy, he was supposed to be the guy, along with Lance Berkman, that would take the mantle of leadership from Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. The same guy that, to some, was the one of the only reasons to come out and see an older, boring team. Time certainly has changed as Hunter finds himself on his third team in a little over a year and no longer looked upon as the face of a franchise. Now, he is looked upon as possibly the final piece needed for a pennant.
Let me give everyone a quick history lesson. I still remember sitting in my bedroom, with one eye on twitter and the other on my TV, waiting to see if or where Hunter would be dealt. All indications for most of July 2011 were that then owner Drayton McLane would not dare move such a valuable commodity even though it was the logical move to make. However, as July 31st approached, the sentiment had changed to when not if Pence would be traded for prospects. The trade and prospects are well known so I won’t get into specifics but I will talk about the emotions that I felt during that game. I had an odd feeling in my stomach that I thought was excitement or maybe the Nachos I had earlier that day but instead it was dread. I knew a deal had to be made for the betterment of the Astros organization but it was still odd and not at all what I expected. I felt sad and it almost felt depressing to see Hunter break down in the dugout. Overall, a moment I won’t forget anytime soon for very different reasons.
So what has happened to Hunter Pence? Why has he fallen so far so quickly? The reality is that nothing has happened to him at all. He is still the pretty good player he was in Houston. Pence is older and wiser but teams and organization have come to realize his true value and nothing is more evident than the trades he has been involved in within the past two seasons. The Astros received three top 10 organizational prospects for Pence while the Phillies received one good prospect and potential. While the circumstances were different this deadline, which played a large part in the process, Pence has been exposed as a good player but not the great one many outside of Houston thought he was. There isn’t anything wrong with that and shouldn’t be taken as a criticism but simple reality. Pence was good in an Astros’ uniform and pretty good in a Phillies one while still to soon to tell what he’ll be for the Giants.
As Hunter makes his exit from Minute Maid Park for 2012, I thank him for his time here in Houston. I also thank him for the effort and the enthusiasm which he brought every single game. I also thank him for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana.