Astros: Mistakes learned from past trades will help at trade deadline

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May 23, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow smiles before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow smiles before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeff Luhnow will get his guy for the Astros at the trade deadline this year.

With all the good that Jeff Luhnow has done for the Houston Astros in his tenure, he learned some lessons in 2015. The Astros found themselves surprisingly in competition a little ahead of schedule that season. Despite all the offseason moves to bring in Evan Gattis, Luis Valbuena, and Colby Rasmus, the team had many holes.

After years of selling players during the “process,” Luhnow found himself as a buyer near the trade deadline. I’m not trying to say that Luhnow made bad moves at the time, but he’s a little wiser now. Luhnow’s strength is finding hidden talents in the low levels of the minors or on the waiver wire. This offseason, Luhnow went hard for Josh Reddick, Charlie Morton, and Carlos Beltran. Many people were scratching their heads with the money they got, but they were his main targets.

Luhnow knew who he wanted to create this squad and it has worked so far with a 31-15 record. With 46 games in the book, Luhnow is already looking around for the final pieces to make the Astros a title contender this year. But let’s take a look at some of the in-season trades of 2015 and how Luhnow learned something from each.

July 23, 2015: A’s trade Scott Kazmir to the Astros for Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden. Luhnow tried to get a jump on the competition by making the trade early. You can’t blame Luhnow, bring the Houston boy home who was having a good season. As he admitted recently on a radio show, he might have made that move too early. Had he had waited, 7-8 days, they may have been able to go after David Price.

Lesson: Wait for the market to know who is out there.

July 30, 2015: Brewers trade Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros for Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, Adrian Houser, and Domingo Santana. While Fiers threw a no-hitter following the trade and has been serviceable, Gomez was a disaster in Houston. Luhnow took a risk on a former All-Star who was having a down season.

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At the time of the trade, Gomez had a batting average of .262 with eight homers and seven stolen bases. He was coming off an All-Star season hitting 23 homers and stealing 34 bases. What if a change of scenery would do Gomez some good?

I’m not going to rip that trade. We would have questioned his decision if he stayed pat. I didn’t like it at the time, but I understood what Luhnow was trying to do. While we have some notable exceptions in the history of the Astros, going for the player struggling doesn’t always work. We saw how Randy Johnson struggled before being traded to Houston. The rest was a historical run before being shut down by Kevin Brown.

Lesson: Make sure the potential rewards outweigh the risks.

Next: Astros: The other half of a potential Gerrit Cole trade

All in all, I think you will see Luhnow handle this trade deadline differently. He doesn’t have as many holes to plug with depth in the farm system so he can focus on bringing in a starter. With the extra draft picks received from the Cardinals, they can restock after the trades this year. Whether it is Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer, Luhnow will get his guy(s)!

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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