With the first half of the season coming to a close by the end of next weekend, we’re going to flashback to earlier in the year when the Chicago Cubs made the move to bring in outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astors in exchange for third baseman Luis Valbuena and starting pitcher, Dan Straily.
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Now, we all knew that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were searching high and low for that key veteran presence for this young group of outfielders.
Not only did they need a cornerstone in the outfield, but they needed a reliable lead-off hitter and got one when they traded for Fowler as he held a career .366 OPB while finishing the 2014 campaign with a .375 mark.
It was obvious that Valbuena’s time with the Cubs was running out considering the fact that rookie phenom Kris Bryant was due to make his big league debut in early April. Now that he’s with the first-place Astros, Valbuena has quickly eclipsed his home run and is closing in on his RBI total despite hitting for a low average in just the first half of the 2015 season.
So far this season, the 29-year-old corner man has clubbed 19 home runs, 36 RBI, eight doubles and 68 strikeouts while hitting .201/.281/.440 in 273 at-bats.
As for Straily, he made his Astros debut this past Friday while visiting the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Straily (0-0, 7.71 ERA) surrendered four earned runs on six hits including a home run while issuing three walks and recording seven strikeouts.
He made seven appearances and picked up only one start in his brief stay with the Cubs after jumping ship from the Oakland Athletics. Straily finished the year with a combined 6.75 ERA and a 47/24 K/BB ratio.
On the North Side of Chicago, Fowler has already tied his 2014 home run totals while playing fantastic defense as the primary center fielder. He’s recorded eight big flies, 23 RBI, four triples, 12 doubles, 69 hits and struck out 75 times while slashing .232/.308/.379.
Last season in his only year with the Astros, the 29-year-old switch-hitter fielded .980 through 110 starts and currently sits with a .995 percentage through 73 games started with the Cubs.
At one point in his career, Dexter was a key member of the Colorado Rockies – a team that made the post-season back in 2009 but was eliminated 3-1 by the Philadelphia Phillies during the N.L. Division Series.
When it was all said and done, it was sad to see someone who was on the rise leave the team in which his career began to peak. But the world of professional sports is, in fact, a business and as far as I’m concerned – this trade has helped both front office’s accomplish their goal of turning their respected team’s into a contender.
At least the Astros don’t have to deal with the St. Louis Cardinals anymore.