Much like Dayton Moore, Houston’s Ed Wade was largely seen as a General Manager who could not effectively grasp that his team was not a playoff contender and build for the future accordingly by trading veterans and obtaining prospects. Until 2010, Houston hadn’t received an interesting prospect in a trade for quite a while. That all changed when the team hit full sell mode in 2010, trading ace Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for a package of prospects and shipping off the last member of the feared “Killer B’s” trio in sending Lance Berkman to the Bronx.
In return, Houston received several intriguing prospects. Perhaps the most promising was a young hitter acquired for another minor leaguer. Wade decided to play what I like to call “prospect deathmatch” with Toronto’s Alex Anthopoulos, swapping Anthony Gose (acquired hours earlier from Philadelphia for Oswalt) for Blue Jays prospect Brett Wallace.
The Astros were Wallace’s 4th team in a year. Wallace was drafted by the Cardinals in 2008 out of ASU. In 2009, he was dealt to Oakland in their deadline deal for Matt Holliday. He was traded again that offseason, this time straight up for outfield prospect Michael Taylor. Finally, the Jays dealt Wallace to Houston as the Jays got Gose, whom they apparently had been targeting since they (unsuccessfully) attempted to bag him in the Roy Halladay deal.
Wallace, who celebrated his 24th birthday last Thursday, is a former third baseman whose future now seems firmly entrenched at first. He’s torn up the minors, logging an OPS of .957 in his first professional action between St. Louis’ single- and double-A clubs in 2008. Most recently Wallace posted a .868 OPS in AAA for Toronto before the trade. Though his results haven’t been quite as stellar in his short period since becoming Houston’s everyday first baseman, Wallace should continue his adjustment period and it won’t be a surprise if he’s unlocked the key to his being an effective big-league hitter by the end of 2010.
I can’t legally end this piece without mentioning Wallace’s opposite platoon splits (it’s in my contract. I swear.). As a lefty, conventional baseball wisdom would lead us to assume Wallace would be a more effective hitter against right-handed pitchers. In fact, the exact opposite is true. In 808 career minor league at-bats against right-handed pitchers, Wallace has managed a decent .831 OPS. However, in 329 AB’s against lefties, Wallace has raked to the tune of a ridiculous .416 OPS, with a .423 in AAA in 2010.
So wait til next year, ‘Stros fans. But as you do, recognize that Lance Berkman’s replacement may not simply be a decent fill-in, as Wallace certainly has the potential to outpace Berkman’s production sooner rather than later. Check back tomorrow, as we’ll be taking a look at an Anaheim Angels club whose promising season was lost as first baseman Kendry Morales broke his leg completing a grand slam trot back in May and the impact Morales’ return will have for the team in 2011.