Astros: Revisiting 1996 Brad Ausmus trade with Tigers

4 Mar 1998: Catcher Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros in action during a spring training game against the Montreal Expos at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida. The Astros won the game, 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman /Allsport
4 Mar 1998: Catcher Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros in action during a spring training game against the Montreal Expos at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida. The Astros won the game, 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman /Allsport /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 4
Next
The Houston Astros bench erupts as Daryle Ward circles the bases after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning against the Cincinatti Reds at the Astrodome in Houston, TX, 29 September, 1999. Wards’s homer broke a zero to zero tie. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo by PAUL BUCK / AFP) (Photo by PAUL BUCK/AFP via Getty Images)
The Houston Astros bench erupts as Daryle Ward circles the bases after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning against the Cincinatti Reds at the Astrodome in Houston, TX, 29 September, 1999. Wards’s homer broke a zero to zero tie. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo by PAUL BUCK / AFP) (Photo by PAUL BUCK/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Overall Verdict

This trade is a bit difficult to grade since pretty much everyone involved would be considered more of a role player. They had plenty of positive contributions, but none of them would be mistaken for a franchise cornerstone.

The Tigers clearly got the better side of Brocail in this deal, who turned in three excellent seasons immediately following the trade. They got some good work from Jones as well, who stepped in as the team’s closer right away. Hunter’s best season with the Tigers was his first, as his numbers declined after that; he was a threat on the bases but not enough of one at the plate.

Orlando Miller did practically nothing for the Tigers, so that’s a loss for them. The Astros really didn’t take a loss in this deal, as all five players they received played a positive role, at least to some degree. Trever Miller and Nitkowski’s contributions were minor, but they weren’t bad.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Ausmus and Ward were important parts of the Houston franchise for several seasons. Neither was an All-Star with the team, but they had their roles and played them well. Ausmus, in particular, spent several seasons alongside the Killer B’s in some of their best years.

Lima’s contributions may have been the best of this deal, and it wasn’t all about his on-field performance. He had two really strong seasons sandwiched between some rough ones, but those strong seasons were important in the team winning two of its division titles.

Off the field, he was a Houston celebrity, parlaying his “Lima Time” into some forays into music and a memorable television commercial. It’s hard to think of the late ’90s Astros without thinking about Lima, and he left his mark on the city as much as any player of the time.

So in the end, I’d say the Astros won this deal, though not by a great margin. Lima helps tip the balance in their favor, and that alone was reason enough for this trade to have happened. It helped set the stage for some memorable seasons in Houston.

facebooktwitterreddit