With spring training just a few weeks away, Roy Oswalt still finds himself without a zip code to call his own. It was widely reported recently that Oswalt would be signing with the St. Louis Cardinals and yet, to date, he remains unsigned. The Texas Rangers also appear to still be in the running for Oswalt's services.
All of that said, the perfect fit for Oswalt is in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. Hey, who wouldn't want a guy that has his own bulldozer? He would be a welcomed addition to a staff that includes aces Adam Wainwright and 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, as well as up-and-coming Jaime Garcia.
A few teams, notably the New York Yankees, have shied away from signing the 11-year vet due to his recent back issues. Oswalt's personalty would have been a terrible fit in the Big Apple anyway, so it probably served him well not to find himself in pinstripes. While Oswalt didn't have his typical year in 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies (9-10, 3.69 ERA), he still has some gas left in the tank.
Adding a healthy Oswalt, the Cardinals would have to be the favorite to be the champions of the NL Central. Oswalt has always had a competitive fire about him, and yet he has come up short in his bid for a World Series Championship. Adding his arm to an already-strong staff can only help Oswalt in his pursuit for that elusive ring.
Remember, during his run as the Houston Astros ace from 2001-2010, Oswalt averaged 15 wins, including two 20-win campaigns, and a 3.18 ERA. Also keep in mind that in two of those seasons, Oswalt started 21 games or fewer due to being a rookie or injury. One last point to prove his worth is the ERA he posted during that stretch. Anyone who can pitch at a high level in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park proves his worth in the eyes of many.
If the Cardinals were to sign Oswalt, he would likely be the fourth man in the rotation, bumping Kyle Lohse to the fifth slot and shoving Jake Westbrook into a middle-relief role. Westbrook has been a disappointing signing for the Cardinals and has not excelled in the National League as many thought he would.
Additionally, moving Westbrook to the 'pen would make moving middle-reliever Kyle McClellan a priority. The Cards have been trying to move him this offseason, and it makes perfect sense if they can land a solid utility infielder in exchange. If the Cardinals can sign Oswalt, it could very well have an impact beyond the mound.
The best part of a Cardinals/Oswalt courtship is that Oswalt is willing to take a one-year deal. If he excels, the chances increase that he would want to finish his career in fan-friendly St. Louis. Cardinals fans have a way of embracing newcomers. If the Oswalt of old reappears, he would be loved as his former Houston teammate Lance Berkman has been since he arrived last season.
This deal only works if Oswalt's back can hold up for a full season. That said, if Oswalt is healthy, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak better slap on a coat or two of his best cologne and bring out that Midwestern charm to make this marriage happen.