No moves for Astros at deadline

No moves for Astros at deadline

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros were reportedly in the thick of several trade talks as the 3 p.m. CT deadline passed on Monday, but in the end, the club stayed pat and did not make a deal.

The Astros were seeking offensive help and were players in the Miguel Tejada sweepstakes, yet the rumor that Roy Oswalt was offered was overblown, according to a Major League executive, who said Houston never offered Oswalt.

The Orioles asked for Oswalt, as well as Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg, among others. But the two sides were not close to a deal that included Oswalt, and an official offer was not made on either side. One executive estimated that the odds of the Astros making a deal with the Orioles never exceeded 20 percent, and the odds were even lower in terms of a deal that would include Oswalt.

General manager Tim Purpura did not wish to reveal how close he was to trading specific players, but he acknowledged that he was open to discussing anyone who is not protected by a no-trade clause. That list would include everyone but Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus. Biggio and Ausmus are protected by "10-5" rights, which means a player has been in the big leagues for 10 years, and five with their current club.

"We talked about virtually every player on this ballclub," Purpura said. "We have to. We have to explore just what those players can bring us in terms of a trade. We did not trade Roy Oswalt, that is a fact."

Still, Oswalt was miffed that his name was even mentioned in trade talks. He heard the rumors as they were happening, and it's his understanding that he was offered, along with Everett, to the Orioles, who were then going to trade him to the Rangers.

Oswalt also heard that once his name popped up on the market, the Mets and Red Sox jumped in. The right-hander ultimatley wishes his name hadn't come up at all.

"I know it's a business," he said. "It kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You go from one extreme to another. You try to do everything for an organization, and you kind of get snake-bitten. You live and learn."

Brad Lidge's name was also mentioned in trade rumors, but other than the Texas Rangers, whose proposition for Lidge was reportedly rejected, no substantial negotiations took place regarding the Astros' closer.

Lidge, who has struggled mightily this year, said not being traded was "a big relief."

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about being traded," he said. "Houston is my home, it's the only organization I've known. I have more to offer than what's happened this year. I just have to keep pitching."

Lidge was also glad the club didn't make any moves prior to the deadline.

"I didn't think we needed to [make a trade]," Lidge said. "I didn't think we needed anything. Aubrey Huff is a second-half player. He hasn't played up to his potential yet, but that doesn't mean he's not going to. This group of guys got to the World Series last year. It's matter of us getting it done, with this group."

Lidge heard the rumor that club owner Drayton McLane ordered Purpura to trade him, and the closer was leaning toward not believing the validity of that report.

"I don't really know if that's true or not," Lidge said. "I want to take it at face value. If there was a chance I might stay with the team and not be traded, why would the owner say that?"

Purpura wondered the same thing. He flatly shot down the notion that there was any truth to that report.

"That is absolutely false," Purpura said. "We took in a lot of proposals on Brad Lidge today as a result of that erroneous report. They were nothing close to what we value Brad Lidge for."

Purpura estimated the offers for Lidge were along the lines of "50 cents to the dollar."

The Astros had interest in Alfonso Soriano, but were much more conservative in their pursuit of the Nationals outfielder, considering he will be a free agent after this season and has interest in returning to the American League. The Nationals seemingly asked for three of the Astros' top pitching prospects, which the Astros rejected.

"The long-term aspect is something that I've tried to emphasize," Purpura said. "I don't believe in making a deadline deal that helps you for two months that you might have to give up three top prospects and really hurt yourself long-term.

"I was more in the mode of looking for a player that could help us today, get through the season on a winning note and then helping us in the future. That was our primary objective. But we did talk about players that would be rental players. The prices were too high,as was proven by the fact that a number of those players didn't even get traded."

"We made tremendous attempts, we were willing to expand the budget financially if the right deal came across. It didn't."

The Astros are 49-56, but despite being 9 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central, six games back in the Wild Card race and seven games below .500, the reigning National League champs were looking to be buyers, not sellers, during this non-waiver trade period.

Offense is not the only area that has disappointed the Astros this year. The bullpen, namely, Lidge, has had its struggles, evidenced by the club's devastating loss to the D-Backs on Sunday. With the Astros leading, 5-2, Chad Qualls yielded a game-tying three-run homer and Lidge surrendered a game-losing two-run shot.

Andy Pettitte has also been a disappointment, having sported an ERA over 5 1/2 for much of the season. Morgan Ensberg, who started the season as the cleanup hitter, has watched his star fall dramatically as well. After a hot start in April, he dropped off in May and fell even further after injuring his shoulder in a diving play in early June. Ensberg made two rehab appearances for Triple-A Round Rock and is expected to make one more Monday before rejoining the Astros Tuesday in San Diego.

The Astros will begin a six-game west road swing with the same cast of characters with whom they concluded their disappointing 2-4 homestand on Sunday. To reach 88 wins, the Astros will have to go 39-18 for the remainder of the season, a .684 winning percentage. Barring a waiver trade, it'll be up to a group that has underachieved for much of the season to pull off a miracle run reminiscent to '04 and '05.

Now that the dust has settled, Lidge plans to use the events -- or, more appropriately, non-events, of Monday as a motivational tool.

"I'm relieved and kind of upset," he said of his name coming up in trade rumors. "But maybe in a way that will hopefully help me. I have a lot to prove now and it's time to make it work. I can use it as motivation."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.