The Phillies also acquired utility infielder Eric Bruntlett in the deal. Houston picked up outfielder Michael Bourn, reliever Geoff Geary, and power-hitting minor-league third baseman Mike Costanzo from the Phillies.
The Phillies initially talked to the Astros about acquiring reliever Chad Qualls. In recent days, the talks shifted to Lidge, a hard-throwing righthander known for having a devastating slider when he is on top of his game.
Conversations between the Phillies and Astros heated up at the general managers' meetings yesterday, and the deal was agreed upon in the afternoon. It was not completed, however, until about 10 p.m., after Phillies medical personnel reviewed Lidge's health records. Lidge, who turns 31 next month, had surgery to repair a cartilage problem in his right knee last month.
"We're comfortable he'll be 100 percent by opening day," Gillick said.
Myers was the Phillies' opening-day starter in 2007. He became the team's closer in May and performed well in the role, recording a 2.87 ERA and 21 saves in 48 games. He was on the mound when the Phillies clinched the NL East title on the last day of the season.
Myers liked closing and wanted to continue in the role in 2008. Phillies management liked him in that role and often said it wanted to keep him there.
But after weighing what was available in this off-season's weak starting-pitching market, the Phils decided it was best to pursue a closer and move Myers back to the rotation.
"Brett Myers is better than any starter available," Gillick said.
Myers, 27, is 54-41 with a 4.42 ERA in 143 starts.
Gillick called Myers to inform him of the trade and the role change shortly before announcing the trade last night.
"I think he was disappointed from the standpoint he wanted to stay at the back end of the bullpen," Gillick said. "But he realized what this does for us from a team standpoint."
Myers was playing an NFL video game when he took a call from a reporter moments after the trade went down.
"Pat asked me how I felt about it and I said I'd do whatever was best for the team," Myers said from Jacksonville, Fla. "It's a little disappointing because I felt closing was good for me. But the team has other needs and I can do both. I'm not surprised. You could read between the lines."
Lidge has 123 career saves. Forty-two of them came in 2005, when he made the National League all-star team. Later that season, however, Lidge gave up a three-run homer to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series. His career has been marked by some inconsistency since. He lost and regained the Astros' closer's job in both 2006 and 2007, and there was talk in baseball circles that he needed a change of scenery.
"It's difficult, but I was prepared for it," Lidge told the Houston Chronicle.
Lidge went 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 66 games for the Astros in 2007. He had 19 saves.
Scout Gordon Lakey, one of Gillick's lieutenants, lives in Houston and has seen Lidge's entire career. Lakey saw Lidge extensively in the second half of 2007 and said his velocity (which often reaches the mid-90s in m.p.h.) was as a good as ever and the bite on his slider was excellent.
The 29-year-old Bruntlett, the other player acquired by the Phillies, will take over the utility infielder's spot vacated by Abraham Nuñez, who is a free agent.
Bourn, 24, batted .277 with 18 steals in 105 games for the Phils this season. Bruntlett hit .246 in 80 games.
With Lidge on board, Gillick said the Phillies would continue to pursue starting pitcher, as well as attempt to re-sign reliever J.C. Romero.
Last night's trade reunites Astros general manager Ed Wade, the former Phillies GM, with three players who were drafted while he was in Philadelphia. Bourn will become the Astros' starting centerfielder, allowing the club to shift Hunter Pence to right. Geary, 31, will pitch in middle relief. Costanzo, 24, an Archbishop Carroll grad, hit 27 homers at double-A Reading in 2007.
Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury at 215-854-4983 or email@example.com.