Astros utility infielder Geoff Blum sent Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets at Minute Maid Park into extra innings with a monstrous upper deck solo home run to right field in the bottom of the ninth off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Although New York persevered with a 3-2 victory in 14 innings, the game reinforced Blum’s value to the Astros.
He provides depth to all infield positions, making him four players wrapped in one who just happens to be capable of producing in clutch situations.
With the new-look Astros getting younger, Blum doesn’t get in the way of the growth of infielders Chris Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Angel Sanchez or Brett Wallace. He’s simply available to make spot starts when necessary, or step up as a pinch hitter.
Once the 2010 campaign ends, it’s likely that general manager Ed Wade would exercise Blum’s mutual $1.65 million option for 2011.
However, at this time of year, it often slips under the radar of how Major League Baseball teams quietly place certain players on waivers to gauge trade interest. If a player is claimed, the waiving team typically rescinds the waiver in order to avoid losing him, unless a trade can be worked out with the claiming team.
The Atlanta Braves claimed Derrek Lee off waivers from the Chicago Cubs, and ultimately a trade was worked out Wednesday to send the two-time All-Star first baseman to Atlanta. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry could have pulled Lee back off waivers, but he chose not to.
What does this have to do with Blum?
According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the 37-year-old Blum has cleared waivers, with the St. Louis Cardinals reportedly interested in putting a waiver clam on him.
The Cardinals lost starting third baseman David Freese to a season-ending ankle injury, thus forcing manager Tony LaRussa to rely on Felipe Lopez for the time being, as well as giving Allen Craig a few spot starts.
This isn’t an ideal scenario for LaRussa and the Cardinals, who are currently three games behind the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds.
It’s been rumored that Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge interests St. Louis, but it hasn’t been confirmed if he’s cleared waivers. At this point, it appears the Cardinals have their eye on Blum, but nothing is serious, yet.
Astros general manager Ed Wade will be in control of this entire situation.
He possesses the power to trade Blum to St. Louis if the scenario favors the Astros, or can pull him back off of waivers. In my opinion, Wade has the right to listen to offers, but I wouldn’t trade Blum for a mediocre prospect.
Blum is cost effective — $1.65 million in 2011 buys a backup third baseman, shortstop, second baseman and first baseman (all in one). He’s the ideal veteran for the growth potential of Johnson, Keppinger, Sanchez and Wallace with his leadership role in the clubhouse.
It would be difficult to replace the intangibles Blum offers to his Houston teammates, coaches and the overall organization. Wade already knows this, but hopefully he doesn’t forget if the Cardinals move forward with discussions.
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