2: Letting the Rays steal Ben Zobrist for Aubrey Huff
The Houston Astros were coming off of a World Series appearance in 2005, the first in team history. The team was on top of the world but they had begun falling back to earth during the 2006 season and were looking for an influx of talent.
So, they sent a couple of little known minor leaguers named Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot to the Rays for third baseman Aubrey Huff. The Astros already had Morgan Ensberg manning the hot corner so Huff played more of a utility role for the Astros, in both corners of the infield and outfield.
Unfortunately, adding Huff just wasn’t enough and the Houston Astros ended the season a game and a half behind the Cardinals who went on to win the World Series that year. Huff didn’t stay in Houston any longer than he had to and signed with Orioles that offseason.
Talbot never amounted to much but Zobrist, well, Zobrist has gone on to have quite the career. He spent parts or all of nine seasons with the Rays and became quite the valuable player. He started off at shortstop before eventually working his way all over the field. He was a utility star before being a utility guy was cool.
Zobrist wound up on both the 2015 Royals team and the 2016 Cubs team where he played key roles in them both winning pivotal World Series, the first for the Royals and the curse breaker for the Cubs. The Astros, on the other hand, struggled to find decent shortstop play until Carlos Correa broke through in 2015.