|The Phillies opted for the trade route in acquiring closer Brad Lidge and utilityman Eric Bruntlett from the Astros in a Nov. 7 trade. In exchange, Houston received veteran righthanded reliever Geoff Geary and two of Philadelphia's top 10 prospects, center fielder Michael Bourn and third baseman Mike Costanzo.
|The Big Leaguers|
|Lidge got back on track after a trying 2006 season, in which his 1-5, 5.28 record was inflated by 10 home runs allowed. Though he still surrendered nine bombs in 2007, Lidge went 5-3, 3.36 with 88-30 K-BB in 67 innings. He temporarily surrendered his closer's role to Dan Wheeler at midseason, though, and finished with just 19 saves, his lowest total in five years. The 17th overall pick from Notre Dame in 1998, Lidge struggled in the minors to stay healthy as a starter, averaging just 53 innings a year in full-season ball. Everything clicked when Lidge moved to the bullpen for good in 2003. He posted one of the finest relief seasons of the decade in 2004, when he went 6-5, 1.90 with 157-30 K-BB in 95 innings for the wild-card Astros. No relief pitcher struck out more batters than Lidge's 452 from 2004 to 2007. For his career Lidge, who will be 31 in 2008 and can become a free agent after the season, has gone 23-20, 3.30 with 123 saves and 561-170 K-BB in 401 innings.
Bruntlett, who will be 30 next season, has made a living with his glove—which is evident by his .250/.323/.364 career averages. In five big league seasons, Bruntlett has proven adept at all three up-the-middle positions, as shortstop, second base and center field are where he's logged most of his playing time. Bruntlett, a ninth-round pick from Stanford in 2000, has seen time at the other four non-catcher spots, too.
Geary, 31, has been one of the Phillies' more durable relievers over the past three years, pitching 217 innings in that span and peaking at 91 in 2006. Not bad for a 15th-round pick from Oklahoma in 1998. While not overpowering, Geary has had a solid career, going 13-4, 3.94 with 173-85 K-BB in 267 innings.
|Though Bourn, 25, spent the entire 2007 season in the majors, he started just 15 times and received 119 at-bats. A plus runner, thrower and center-field defender, Bourn has a gap power and a good eye at the plate, making him a natural leadoff batter candidate. He hit .284/.377/.392 with 164 stolen bases in 397 minor league games—and he's done a fair approximation of that in the big leagues: .268/.340/.362 with 19 steals in 22 attempts. With the trade, Bourn, a fourth-round selection in 2003, returns to Houston, where he played college ball for the Cougars.
Costanzo, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Glen Mills, finished runner-up in the Double-A Eastern League's home run race with 27. The 24-year-old third baseman employs a big, pull-happy swing that contributed to an EL-leading 157 strikeouts. Costanzo will take his walks, though, and he batted .270/.368/.490 for Reading. As he had in 2006, Costanzo heated up in August this year, batting .364/.445/.607 for the month. Some scouts believe Costanzo, a second-round pick form Coastal Carolina in 2005, is a first baseman in waiting.
|The Phillies accomplished two things by moving quickly to acquire Lidge: They didn't have to overspend on free-agent pitching, and they can now move Brett Myers back into the rotation. With Kyle Lohse a free agent and Freddy Garcia's future in flux, Philadelphia will need other dependable arms to complement Cole Hamels.
Led by new general manager Ed Wade, who served in that capacity for the Phillies for eight years, the Astros added a pair of low-cost, near-big league ready options. The acquisition of Bourn pushes Hunter Pence to right field, while Costanzo could be ready by midseason—if not earlier—to compete for third-base playing time.