State Of The Astros
Astros GM Tim Purpura has finally admitted that the Astros should not be making player acquisitions with this year in mind. A huge veteran firesale makes perfect sense right now.
As far as the huge blockbuster names - Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, and Roy Oswalt - Purpura specifically says they will not be traded. I have avoided wasting ink on the Oswalt rumors that have bounced around over the past few weeks, because I just didn't believe them. Oswalt's 2008-11 total salary - $58MM - is about the same as Mark Buehrle's and an equal-sized bargain.
Oswalt mentioned his willingness to waive his no-trade clause if a deal would help the Astros, which I imagine would require the $16MM option for 2012 to be exercised. Regardless, trading Oswalt would be silly. A pitcher of his stature at a reasonable contract is a rarity.
Fortunately for a website that specializes in trade rumors, Purpura still has plenty of parts to sell off. I outlined all the trade candidates in this post.
Brad Lidge seems to be healthy now, and spending all of next week in the Majors closing games for the Astros would go a long way toward his trade value. But maybe a nice run would convince Purpura to keep him. We've heard conflicting messages on whether the Astros are willing to trade Lidge. Today, Richard Justice mentions the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers as "hot for" Lidge.
Right behind Lidge in trade value is Jason Jennings. Jennings, who typically acts as a bullpen-saver, is on the road to re-establishing his health after missing most of April and May with elbow problems. He had a decent June, making six starts and going seven innings in three of them. Since the injury risk and impending free agency may keep his price down, Jennings might be the best realistic trade target among starters.