Jim Bowden climbed off his Washington Nationals segway today and penned a column at ESPN.com titled "Five blockbuster trades I'd like to see." Bowden demands blockbusters! He claims "They make sense for all the teams involved and might add a little spice to the deadline." Our Royals are involved. Let's examine the trade, shall we?
Looks great! Norris is a 28 year old right-handed pitcher who has been a 1-2 WAR pitcher the last three seasons. Norris has two more full seasons left before free agency. He has terrific strikeout numbers, striking out almost a batter an inning in his career. His career ERA is 4.29, although his FIP has generally been slightly better than his ERA over his career.
Altuve is a 23 year old All-Star second baseman with four controllable years left. He is a high-average hitter with terrific speed and okay walk numbers who posted a 1.5 WAR in his only full season in the big leagues. He has little power, although more than you'd expect from a hitter who stands 5'5''.If the Royals acquired Altuve, he could sit on Tim Collins' shoulders and wear a trench coat to be allowed to ride roller coasters at Worlds of Fun.
Chris Carter is a 26 year old former Baseball America Top 100 prospect who is in his third organization. Acquired by the Astros last winter from Oakland, Carter has gotten his first full shot at an every day job this year and has hit .229/.327/.472 with 18 home runs and a league-leading 122 strikeouts. He is a true three-outcome player, smashing home runs, drawing a fair number of walks, and striking out at massive rates. He is a right-handed bat that fits in best at first base, or ideally at designated hitter, but could reasonably pass in right field if needed.
How can we offer such low, low prices on prospects? VOLUME! What Bowden's package of prospects for the Astros lacks in quality, it certainly makes up for in quantity. While all of these players were in John Sickels' Top 20 Royals prospects before the year, (except Giaovtella, who was ineligible), their status as "prospects" has been damanged this year. Calixte and Giavotella are the only prospects who have had remotedly good seasons this year, and both have still been rather underwhelming. The other four prospects have been downright awful. Selman has shown flashes of brilliance, but his walk numbers are alarming. Starling is doing a Mike Moustakas impression, except as a 20 year old in A ball. Gallagher has been awful. Adam is giving up nearly seven runs per nine innings. Why wouldn't Houston jump all over this deal?
Since none of the three Astros players in this deal are anywhere close to free agency, there is little reason for Houston to move them unless they are overwhelmed with an offer. And its hard to see how this pupu platter of six non-prospects motivates them to make a deal. Houston could almost certainly get a much better collection of talent by trading each of these players individually to other teams.
Its nice to think of the Royals being competitive and being aggressive at the deadline, but the Royals simply don't have the trade chips to make huge deals like this. The "Best System in the History of Whatever" is a shell of itself right now, and any improvements are either going to have to come from internal upgrades, or through Dayton's ability to to steal undervalued talent in other organizations. How optimistic does that leave you?