Roy Oswalt Wants to Come to the Rescue This Summer: Who Will Come Calling?
Yankee fans know this routine very well.
A veteran pitcher doesn't receive the type of offer from a team he likes in the offseason. He decides to sit on the sidelines and wait until a team that he likes actually has a more clear-cut need for his services in hopes that he'll receive a lucrative prorated contract in May, June or July.
It was, of course, Roger Clemens who played this to perfection back in 2007. That season, he announced his return to the Bronx in a now-legendary comeback announcement live from the owner's box at Yankee Stadium on May 6.
Clemens got paid in a big way for riding in to theoretically save the day for the 2007 Yankees, who were having starting pitching woes. He made approximately $4.5 million per month that season. It didn't really turn out that well for Clemens or the Yankees.
The Yankees made the playoffs, but lost in the first round to the Indians. Clemens went 6-6 in 17 starts with a disappointing 4.18 ERA in what would be his final season as a professional baseball player.
Now, Roy Oswalt, a pitcher coming off a subpar season in Philadelphia in which he endured his first real bout of a potentially long-term injury, hopes to follow in Clemens' footsteps.
Oswalt has no illusions of making similar money, but the free-agent pitcher who has gone from wanting a typical long-term free-agent contract, to being open to a one-year deal, to his current desire to make a midseason comeback, seems to have a desired scenario in mind for 2012.
It's just totally unclear what that is at this time.
He's had talks with numerous teams, but to this point, neither the money nor the actual team itself has matched up for Oswalt.
The Red Sox had interest, but Oswalt seemed fairly unenthusiastic about playing in Boston.
There never was any sort of publicized displeasure with Oswalt during his time in Philadelphia.
Maybe he'd just like to go back.
The problem for now is that there's no place for him in the talent-laden, crowded Philadelphia rotation. Philadelphia will start the season with a five-man rotation that is the envy of many teams in baseball.
Four established veterans in Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Joe Blanton are joined by promising, young Vance Worley to round out baseball's best starting five.
That doesn't leave much space for Oswalt.
Injuries do happen, though.
As good as that rotation is, it's unlikely to be in place for the duration of the 2012 season.
With Oswalt's unwillingness to make a choice on a team to this point and the lack of any sort of aggressive pursuit by Philadelphia, perhaps Oswalt is just waiting for Philadelphia to come calling.
If Oswalt wants to play for a contending team and pitch with other veteran pitchers, then why not St. Louis?
With Adam Wainwright returning from Tommy John surgery and Chris Carpenter in the rotation, the defending champs would seem like a decent fit.
As of now, they're not, though.
Earlier today, Cardinal general manager John Mozeliak announced that Oswalt would not be pitching for the Cardinals.
That's where it stands now, but nothing is set in stone. Oswalt clearly knows that. Mozeliak knows it too. This is the same general manager that made a string of midseason deals that would prove critical to the Cardinals' eventual World Series title last year.
Injuries happen, and so do bouts of ineffectiveness. Maybe Jake Westbrook proves too hittable this season. There are lots of variables the Cardinals would have to have to still be considered a potential destination for Oswalt.
The Rangers are a team with no shortage of starting pitching options. Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison all return to the rotation that led the Rangers to their second consecutive World Series appearance in 2011.
The team lost C.J. Wilson to their division rival, the Los Angeles Angels, but to counter that, they made two other big moves.
One was moving 23-year-old former closer Neftali Feliz from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
The other was signing Yu Darvish to a contract to come play baseball in America and leave his native Japan.
Darvish arrives with high expectations. He's got the type of stuff and numbers to be considered a potential No. 1 type of starter. He's going to be the focal point of plenty of preseason attention.
The Rangers also have 20-year-old top prospect Martin Perez lurking in the minors at the Triple-A level.
All of this could work out very well for Texas, but there are question marks, such as Darvish's ability to adjust to the majors and Feliz's ability to make the move from closing to starting.
Anyone of those could potentially create a need for Oswalt, and with a much-improved divisional rival lurking in Los Angeles, the Rangers would need to react to any pitching shortage quickly.
A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon are gone. Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda are now members of the Yankees. The rotation will be C.C. Sabathia, Pineda, Ivan Nova, Kuroda and either Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia.
Six guys for five spots seems like a decent situation for any team. When you've got an offense like the Yankees, it's an enviable position.
There are some legitimate questions here, though.
Kuroda, who gave up a career-high 24 home runs last year pitching in the National League West, could have some problems pitching in Yankee Stadium against American League lineups. Hughes, who has battled injuries for most of his career, could once again find himself on the shelf. And Garcia, who was one of last season's surprises, is now a 35-year-old pitcher with his own injury history.
The Yankees are clearly a team that's not averse to paying some cash to bring in a live arm in the middle of the season if upper management feels like it could be the difference between October baseball and an early start to golf season.
Oswalt would be a concern for his own set of reasons if he were to join the Yankees. He's never pitched in the American League, and he's never alluded to a desire to pitch in New York for the Yankees. Still, if the money were right, it's not an outrageous scenario to imagine.
The Red Sox
Maybe Oswalt really doesn't want to pitch in Boston. If that's the case, then the team should just forget about getting him. After all, the Red Sox aren't that bad a place to be, and the team is in the running for the postseason every year.
There are worse places to pitch and play baseball.
Then again, maybe Oswalt just wants more money than what was being offered? The Red Sox were reportedly happy to offer Oswalt a one-year deal worth around $6 million.
He didn't bite on that deal, and since that point, the talks between the Red Sox and Oswalt have been very uneventful.
Oswalt was reportedly seeking around $15 million to come to Boston for one year. That's not going to happen, not with Boston being very salary-cap conscious and not with Roy Oswalt's back injuries.
What won't happen now won't necessarily be the case this summer, though. What if the back end of the Red Sox rotation, which is already littered with question marks, implodes? What if Oswalt lowers his demand for a one-year deal? Since a midseason acquisition would be prorated, the final amount could be closer to the $6 million the Red Sox apparently already offered.
Oswalt seems to be drawn toward teams that are going to be contenders. The Red Sox might not be contenders if the starting rotation is a mess, but then again, if it's just a case of filling one critical spot, Oswalt could be worth a shot.