Trades between division rivals are a tricky thing. Especially when the team looking to pick up the marquee player has a rather barren farm system. Unfortunately for Astros fans, that's the exact situation their team is in with pitcher Roy Oswalt. As you might suspect, Astros fans at SB Nation's Crawfish Boxes want nothing less than a boatload of the Cardinals' best prospects in return for the suddenly resurgent Oswalt, who's managed to rebound from two sub-par (for him) seasons the past two years. From Crawfish Boxes:
The problem is, St. Louis' farm system sucks. It sucks a lot. It's very similar to ours in a lot of ways, but with fewer young, high upside potential blue chip prospects (like Jiovanni Mier and). So I took painstaking care, by which I mean spending a few hours looking at top prospect lists, stats, and scouting reports and assuming that makes me an expert... and came up with seven players who interest me.
I want them all, or at least most of them, including. That's how much I hate the idea of trading with St. Louis. [...]
As for the prospects themselves, here's how Crawfish Boxes breaks down the top four that would be a must for them in any trade:
- Shelby Miller, RHP (19, A). Miller is the only blue chip prospect in the Cardinals' system. He is a young starting pitcher with potential top of the rotation stuff; a plus fastball, a plus curve, and the ability to throw strikes. He's far from the majors, but like Jordan Lyles, don't be surprised if he's a fast mover.
- , 1B/3B/OF (25, AAA). Craig has been major league ready for a couple of years now, but there's just one problem: His best position is first base, and, well... the Cardinals kind of have that covered. He's hit at every level and he's doing it again this year at AAA. He profiles as an everyday first baseman; probably not a star type hitter, but you never know. He could step in to replace next season.
- , RHP (24, AAA). Another boom-or-bust guy, Ottavino interests me because he looks like a guy who always struggled with one crippling problem (control) and this season it seems to have finally clicked for him. He has a plus fastball, slider, and a solid changeup, and good size (6'5"), but until this year, he never had a season in which he walked fewer than four batters per nine innings. This year, however, his walk rate is way down, while his strikeout rate is still solid. He could be a good middle rotation starter, or he could wind up in middle relief. EDIT: Just learned Ottavino is down with a shoulder injury and it may require surgery. That probably rules him out for a trade. Yet another reason not to trade with the Cards.
- Niko Vasquez, SS (21, A+). Vasquez was a high draft pick whose tools have always drawn praise from scouts, but whose results last season were very lackluster. This year, however, he's having a breakout season, batting for .814 OPS between low A and A-Advanced. He's a shortstop, but defensive issues will move him to second or third base in the long run. He has great patience and gets on base at a high rate, but he will take some strikeouts; he has a lot of power potential and has already realized much of it at an age when few batters do.
Of course, with the way trades have worked the past few years, with financial concerns oft-times trumping talent, the Astros would likely have to assume a great deal of Oswalt's remaining salary to get more than one or two prospects back, especially more advanced ones.