Astros Rumors

Houston Astros: Let’s Make a Trade With the Oakland Athletics

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With the Houston Astros firmly in first place as the second month of the season draws to a close. We here at Climbing Tal’s Hill thought it would be fun to have a series of posts this week focusing on who the ‘Stros should trade for, and our propositions for acquiring that player. In this post, I’ll discuss the potential for adding lefty starter Scott Kazmir from Oakland to help bolster a Houston rotation that has been average outside of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Get it? Got it? Good! Let’s talk trades.

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After nine starts this season, Kazmir holds a 3.09 ERA, which is nearly a full run lower than McHugh’s 4.06. The lefty also has a 1.1 WAR according to ESPN, which is also better than McHugh, but only slightly, with Collin having a 0.9. Kazmir can go deep into games, averaging 101.3 pitches per outing this season, which would be tops in the Astros’ rotation. Scott Feldman comes close with an average of 100 per outing, but he also holds a 5.17 ERA. Why mention pitch counts? The deeper he goes, the fewer outs the bullpen has to gather which will leave them more rested, and even more effective.

Chances are you’ve already thought about the Houston Astros making a play for Kazmir this season, but one name that isn’t as talked about is Tyler Clippard, the fill-in closer that was acquired during the offseason for Yunel Escobar. With the A’s playing terribly up until a few days ago, Clippard wasn’t seeing a ton of action accumulating just 19 innings this season while notching a 2.37 ERA. Why acquire Clippard? Pairing him with Luke Gregerson would give the eighth and ninth innings a whole new feel and would also allow Josh FieldsChad Qualls and Pat Neshek to man earlier innings. Who gets left out in this scenario? Joe Thatcher and his 9.2 innings of work being a lefty specialist. Tony Sipp can handle the tough lefties with the back-end of the bullpen being fortified.

The other perk to adding Clippard to the bullpen is that he would be a nice insurance policy if Gregerson struggles in the closer’s role at any point with Clippard holding 38 career saves.

Both players will be free agents at the end of the season which is the one major caveat. Two players with the resumes of Kazmir and Clippard will likely fetch a decent return, but there are some concerns to be had. In the second half of last season Kazmir fell apart, going 4-6 with a 5.42 ERA. Granted, the entire team collapsed down the stretch last season, so it wouldn’t be fair to single out the southpaw. Also, 2014 saw his largest workload since 2007, so the rigors of the season may have just caught up to him. After being through it last season, there is reason to be optimistic that he will not have a repeat of this performance in 2015.

Now to the good stuff! Both of these players would significantly improve the Astros and their chances of making a dent in October. While Oakland has performed below their own standard this season, the team seems to think they still have a shot, even with their 17-30 record. The main reason for this optimism is that their bullpen has been horrendous, but they should see the return of their bearded closer, Sean Doolittle before long. The A’s will see if that settles down the woes in the ‘pen before unloading some of their top guns. If the team is still out of it in a month or so without great improvement, we could see Kazmir and Clippard on the move in early July at the earliest. But the Cole Hamels sweepstakes will likely have to reach a conclusion before Billy Beane deals away the second-most coveted lefty on the market.

The timeframe for the deal could play a role in the package that is offered, but the pair of Michael Feliz and Brett Phillips could do the trick. If a deal is struck well before the deadline, Joe Sclafani could be an additional player that Oakland would target. While Sclafani is having a down year thus far with Fresno, his versatility would be coveted by Beane, and would make trading Ben Zobrist that much easier. Feliz had a 4.41 ERA in Lancaster this season, but was called up to Corpus Christi late last week and has yet to make an appearance with the Hooks. Phillips is batting .339 with seven homers and 27 driven in with the JetHawks this season, and would make trading Josh Reddick a possibility to consider for Oakland.

Part 1: Let’s Trade with the Oakland Athletics

Part 2: Let’s Trade with the Phillies

Part 3: Let’s Trade with the Reds

Part 4: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 2

Part 5: Let’s Trade with the White Sox

Part 6: Let’s Trade with the Mets

Part 7: Let’s Trade with the Reds Part 3

Part 8: Let’s Make no Trades

What do you think of this trade proposition? Vote below, then come on back and check out some of the other suggestions from the staff throughout the week!

Next: Fresno Bee Thinks Correa is Ready

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