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|Olney's take on trade|
The Astros needed a bat and they got a good offensive option in Aubrey Huff, a left-handed hitter who has the ability to spray the ball to the opposite field, and take advantage of the box seats down the left field line in Houston's home park. This will give Houston manager Phil Garner another player he can use to mix and match his lineup, because Huff can play third -- he's been solid if unspectacular there this year -- and first and either left or right field.
In return for Huff, the Devil Rays did well to get a plus arm for Huff -- right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot, who was 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in Double-A this year, striking out 96 and walking only 29 in 90 1/3 innings. In addition, the Rays got a Double-A shortstop, Ben Zobrist, who could give them a good fallback candidate if Julio Lugo is traded and if top prospect B.J. Upton demonstrates that he can't play shortstop in the big leagues.
This deal could affect Upton down the road. With Huff now moved, the Rays have an opening in their infield that Upton could fill, one way or the other. Either Lugo could be moved around as a utility player, or perhaps Upton could be given a shot at third base, something that former Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella tried a couple of years ago. Upton has 28 errors at shortstop this year, but his primary weakness at the position, scouts say, is that he lays back on grounders too much, leaving himself too little time to complete a play, and in exchanges around the second base bag. Upton has good range, and by playing third base, he naturally would have more time to field a ball and complete a play.
|Law: Good trade for both|
In their trade with the Devil Rays, the Astros got a bat, and while it's not the major power threat they have needed for about two years now, they did need a left-handed hitter for the middle of their lineup. And Aubrey Huff is about as good a fit as they were going to find this summer.
Tampa Bay adds two depth prospects to its farm system, which is critical, since that's the type of prospect they failed to add through years of high-risk/high-ceiling drafting that left them with a few star-caliber prospects but an extremely thin system beyond that.
• For more of Keith Law's analysis, click here .