That's right, the Houston Astros, who are ten games removed from a playoff spot have acquired a veteran free-agent-to-be starting pitcher. I suppose this is Ed Wade's idea of answering back to C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden. Cute, if not effective. The price is a AAA pitcher by the name of Chad Reineke, more on him in a bit. First let's see what Paul DePodesta said about Wolf not too long ago:
Randy Wolf - Randy has a limited no-trade provision in his contract, so there are a number of designated teams to which Randy does not have to accept an assignment. Randy is another guy who is on the collective radar of the buyers at this point and for good reason. After having a shoulder cleanup in the middle of last season, Randy has had a very good year to date. His average fastball velocity is the highest it has been in any of the past six years (which is the timeframe of the data set) and his strikeout rate is as high as it has been since 2001. His ERA currently stands at 4.38, though almost a full run of that is due to two starts in Colorado and Chicago during which he gave up 14 runs in eight innings. His collective line of 109 innings, 109 hits, 42 walks, and 100 k's is one of the better lines you'll find during this deadline, but his line of 101 innings, 95 hits, 33 walks, and 94 k's (3.48 ERA) without those two starts is even more indicative of the pitcher he has been. In fact, his 12 quality starts ranks 7th in the NL behind Haren, Lincecum, Hudson, Santana, Webb, and Volquez.
As Derek Carty noted at THT DePodesta did a brilliant job of "dumbing down" his analysis to fit the mindset of the less statistically potent general managers. Whether this actually worked or not is irrelevant, but the fact that it was Ed Wade who pulled the trigger is deliciously comedic. I'll choose to give Wade the benefit of the doubt for now and move on to actually analyzing the trade.
Let's begin with the buying Astros. Wolf will join a rotation that will lack Roy Oswalt until next Wednesday when Oswalt's DL stint ends but features a thrilling Wandy Rodriguez and the superbly average Brandon Backe/Brian Moehler combination that is effective if not sexy. Wolf should fit right in although will certainly be an improvement over the likes of Runelvys Hernandez.
Something concerning is that Wolf has been worse than last season despite moving into another pitchers' park. With a sinking strikeout rate and rising walk and homerun rates you have to ask if Randy Wolf knew he was pitching in PETCO. The answer would be yes, since he was actually very good at home and absolutely horrendous elsewhere. Wolf averaged about a half inning more in starts inside PETCO and a strikeout more per walk.
Houston's defense is actually quite equal with San Diego's with a .795 DER being a point lower than the Padres. Using THT's +/- system the Padres defense is about seven runs better, but both are at least above zero, unlike some teams. Minute Maid has a one year park factor of 94 compared to PETCO's 89.
The AAA pitcher coming back to San Diego goes by the name Chad Reineke. As a 26 year old Reineke has a K/BB ratio of 2.86 and his 0.77 GB/FB ratio speaks well to his enjoyment of PECTO's lovely amount of space. He's likely a reliever in the majors, but Reineke does have some similarities to Cha Seung Baek and Josh Banks, two parts of the Padres makeshift rotation.
I suppose my only problem with Houston's part of this deal is why? The price isn't too great, but being double digits back doesn't, nor should it, inspire an all ready aging ballclub to add a soon to be leaving piece.