We'll begin with the most recent one; LaTroy Hawkins to the Astros. Apparently Houston thinks they really are contenders, that or they feel Hawkins will magically gain some value over the next half day to warrant a trade. This is Ed Wade, so we'll assume the former. Richard Justice doesn't care enough about the move to offer much in the way of commentary, and neither will I, outside of saying Hawkins strand rate is low and should improve by a bit.
Now to the other deal that sends Kyle Farnsworth back to the Detroit Tigers for catcher Ivan Rodriguez. To state the obvious on Farnsworth a 94% strand rate won't last either, and whether a career low LD% against lasts or not is up for debate. Farnsworth spent most of 2005 in Detroit after being traded from the Cubs and had arguably the best season of his career. Farnsworth will step into a set-up role for the Tigers where he should throw to new starting catcher Brandon Inge.
For the Yankees this deal looks like a win, swapping free agents to be and gaining a player with A-type eligiblity. However it doesn't seem to make sense for the Yankees to actually offer Rodriguez arbitration, otherwise he could accept and maintain a high salary. Pudge isn't quite what he used to be, but he's better than Jose Molina or Chad Moeller. The Yankees upgraded from the worst starting catcher in the American League East to the second best, but Pudge is about .020 points lower in OPS than Jorge Posada was this season.