20 years ago, the Houston Astros ripped off the Baltimore Orioles for one of the greatest (or worst, depending on your perspective) trades in Major League history when they dealt aging first baseman Glenn Davis for future stars Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch, and Steve Finley.
Today, they evened out karma when they once again allowed the future National League champs to rip them off by dealing face-of-the-franchise Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies for three single-A players and, even better, a player to be named later. That player will not be outfielder Dominic Brown or star rookie pitcher Vance Worley, because the Astros decided they only wanted to try and pry major-league ready talent from the Phillies’ chief rival, the Atlanta Braves.
A year ago, the Phillies nabbed Roy Oswalt without having to give up Brown, instead dealing only middling J.A. Happ and a pair of minor leaguers. Philadelphia won 97 games and reached the NLCS; the Astros paved the way for another losing campaign to trickle into a potential-100-loss one in 2011. In the 2008 offseason, GM Ed Wade, formerly of the same post with Philadelphia, dealt Brad Lidge to the Phillies and then watched as Lidge went 48-for-48 in save opportunities as the Phillies won the World Series.
No one knows for sure if anyone in the Major League Baseball office actually reviews these trades, or cares, because the Phillies, Red Sox, or Yankees in the World Series means ratings, jersey sales, and money money money. Well Selig’s wish will be fulfilled, and the handful of hardcore Astros fans that exist will be crushed.
When the Phillies are conducting their victory parade in late October, they should invite Ed Wade to be an honorary guest. After all, Wade orchestrated the magnificent trade that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will get full credit for. Pence will be a star in Philadelphia, while Houston will sink further and further into baseball’s abyss.