2012 Texas Rangers: Why Roy Oswalt Should Be in the Rotation

H CContributor IIIAugust 6, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 30: Roy Oswalt # 44 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on July 30, 2012 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

After Roy Oswalt's disastrous start against the Angels on July 30, he was demoted to the bullpen after the team acquired Ryan Dempster.

I knew right away that Roy Oswalt would not be happy about being moved to the bullpen and over the last two days good old Roy made his opinions known.

If I were Oswalt, I wouldn't be too happy either. He got a raw deal from the Rangers, simple as that.

This article makes the case that Oswalt deserves to be a starter.


Other starters are not really any better

The Rangers' rotation is completely decimated: Matt Harrison has the only reliable arm and Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz are out for season.

While Derek Holland is a homegrown arm and a southpaw—qualities every team loves—he has a 5.18 ERA this year and a 4.80 career ERA. Both are horrible number, even back in the steroids era.

While hitter-friendly Arlington certainly is a factor, the same applies to every single pitcher on the Rangers' staff.

After a blazing start, high-priced acquisition Yu Darvish had a 5.74 ERA in July and a 7.66 ERA post All-Star break. He has amazing talent but it is likely that the he is still getting used to the MLB workload—Japan uses six-man rotation.

Scott Feldman may be on a roll right now but this is still a guy with a career ERA of 4.73, horrible peripherals, and a 4.52 ERA this year despite his recent performances, which indicates just how poorly he was pitching earlier this season.

He is a borderline starter/swingman at best, the definition of replacement level.

Ryan Dempster also got bombed in his only start in Arlington against the Angels.

Do you think Oswalt is the problem?


Small sample size vs. long track record

When a player gets off to a hot start or a pitcher outperforms their peripherals, most experts warn of a  "regression to the mean."

Isn't it reasonable to assume Oswalt's bad ERA will eventually go back to the near his career norm? Perhaps slightly higher if you factor he was a career NL pitcher.

Oswalt only has six starts after being one of the best pitchers in baseball since 2001.

He has a spectacular 31-6 ratio of strikeouts to walks.

Even last year, limited by back pain, he had a decent 3.69 ERA in 139 innings.

For comparison's sake, Clay Buchholz had a 8.31 ERA in his first seven starts this year and the Red Sox stuck with him. Phil Hughes had a 7.48 ERA in his first five starts this year and the Yankees stuck with him.

That is what good, well-run organizations do.

The Brewers are still sticking with Randy Wolf and the Angels with Ervin Santana.

Did you see the Giants pulling the plug on Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum?

Oswalt is a much more accomplished pitcher than Buchholz, Hughes, Santana, and Wolf and given his track record, peripherals, and the fact that the Rangers won four games in his six starts, he clearly deserves better.


$5 million for a pitcher is not that much in the current era

$5 million may seem a lot to you and me, but it is pocket change for most teams. Oswalt most likely took a paycut to join the Rangers.

The Tigers offered him $10 million this offseason but he didn't want to play in Detroit. The Red Sox made him an offer somewhere between $7-8 million as well.

If not for his back woes, he would likely even command an even higher salary.

Look around the league:

  • Josh Beckett is getting paid $17 million
  • Derek Lowe $15 million
  • John Lackey $17 million
  • Brett Myers $12 million
  • Joe Blanton $10.5 million
  • Ted Lilly $10.5 million
  • Bronson Arroyo $8 million
  • Jeremy Guthrie $8.2 million
  • Carlos Zambrano $19 million
  • Ricky Nolasco $9 million
  • Randy Wolf $9.5 million
  • Carl Pavano $8.5 million
  • Wandy Rodriguez $10.5 million
  • Barry Zito $19 million
  • Jake Westbrook $8.5 million
  • Edwin Jackson $11 million
  •  Kyle Lohse $12 million

All of them are comparable or significantly worse pitchers than Oswalt. You want to say Oswalt overpaid, washed up, and shouldn't be a starter?

If Oswalt were in the NL, he would be pulling an AJ Burnett revival. Burnett himself had an early-season debacle (two and two-third innings with 12 runs allowed) and that was after pathetic stint with the Yankees.

The Pirates stuck with him and it is paying off.


Overworking him in the bullpen

One of the reason Oswalt's market was so depressed the past offseason was concerns about his back.

Why would Ron Washington run him out there to throw two innings (24 pitches), two days after throwing 97 pitches in his latest start and then make him pitch two more innings (30 pitches) three days later?

If Oswalt didn't pull himself out, Washington would have made him pitch another inning. Are they intentionally trying to injure him?

He missed 13 days right before his last start. They're overworking him. This is just classless.


Alexi Ogando

I don't understand the Rangers' grudge with Ogando.

He had a great season last year as a starter, posting a 13-8 record with a 3.51 ERA. He pitched half his games in hitter-haven Arlington, yet he has been repeatedly passed over when rotation spots opened up this year.

As a late bloomer and at age 28—29 in October—this guy is no spring chicken but is in his prime. Why are they wasting it like this?

I hate to assume the worst but I can't help but think they're trying to drive his value down in arbitration by making him a nameless middle reliever just like the Rays are doing with Wade Davis. The difference is Wade Davis is a mediocre starter while Ogando is one of the Rangers best starters.

Martin Perez, Scott Feldman and Justin Grimm all got a shot and then they went out and signed Oswalt and scooped up Dempster at the trade deadline.

Why not give Ogando a shot when he already proved he is one of their best starters?


Robbie Ross also got knocked out by the Angels offense

The entire Rangers-Angels series was a slugfest, producing scores like 15-8, 11-10 and 15-9.

Why was Oswalt the only one singled out and scapegoated then deliberately humiliated? 

Immediately after Ross took over, he gave up four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Holland has been stinking it up all year. Darvish and Dempster also got knocked around by the Angels.

Most fans don't seem too sympathetic to Oswalt's current situation.

Too often when fans look at professional sports and athletes, most seems to think they are overpaid and should shut up. Too often fans and media dehumanize them just because they are well-paid according to their market value.

Curt Flood once said, "a well-paid slave is still a slave." Regardless of your political affiliation or opinion on labor law and union, most of you would agree the reserve clause is against the very ideal our country was founded upon. 

Despite all the advances with sports labor union, players still need to be respected. For one of the best pitchers of the past decade to find out he was demoted through the media is quite frankly classless.


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