Roy Oswalt is one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. Even at the age of 32, he’s still got the talent to pitch at All-Star caliber.
However, his brains are a whole other story.
Jayson Stark of ESPN reported today that the Astros’ ace would okay a deal to any team that acquires him with only one condition. Sadly, the condition is nuttier than pecan pie.
He wants the team to guarantee his $16 million option.
This kind of demand seems so ridiculous, it’s as if Oswalt is extremely reluctant to leave town. He’s said multiple times how loyal he is to the city of Houston, and by making the prerequisite so high, he’s making it very hard for himself to leave.
And that’s his mistake. He needs to make like a newborn and head out.
Staying in Houston is a death sentence for Oswalt’s career. Yes, the Astros have had some good seasons in the past, but since the team’s World Series run in 2005, Houston hasn’t returned to the playoffs, and attendance has dropped each season.
Should we cast Oswalt for the Green Mile remake?
Not so fast. Oswalt’s clearly the diamond in Houston’s rough. While Oswalt is well below his career averages for ERA and WHIP this season, his record is a subpar 6-11, and that’s due to his teammates.
The Astros’ roster isn’t the worst in the majors, but some of the people surrounding Oswalt are more qualified to work at Denny’s than play baseball.
That’s why his demand makes as much sense as underwater arson. There won’t be much winning in Houston during the rest of Oswalt’s career, so why make it nearly impossible to go to a winner?
Even Einstein’s stumped.
If he waives this demand, everyone comes out as a winner. The Philadelphia Phillies are the front-runner to acquire Oswalt’s services, and he fits in that city better than the cheesesteak.
At this point in his career, Oswalt must be craving a return to glory and a chance to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy. Why not join a team in a tight division race who has represented the National League in the World Series the past two years?
The only better way to guarantee winning is if he takes his talents to South Beach.
Both teams should be egging the pitching ace to give up his standards. The Astros are in a clear rebuilding process and can use solid prospects to build up their core. Oswalt is the kind of player that commands a couple of top-tier minor leaguers.
And no one has more young talent than the Phillies. Not even the Chinese gymnastics team.
On the other side, the Phils are struggling. Roy Halladay has been great, but not as dominant as Cliff Lee was. All their injuries have limited their offense, and the pitchers toward the end of their rotation are as trustworthy as Benedict Arnold.
Add another Roy, and that’s a chimera no one wants to face. In a seven-game series, seeing Halladay and Oswalt possibly five times is scarier than any Saw film.
Yes, there are reasons why Oswalt would put this huge price tag on himself. He clearly won’t get $16 million in 2012 as a 34-year-old free agent, and if he’s being sent to a contender, it’s another year that he gets a chance to get the bling.
Those reasons, however, make even less sense.
First, if he can keep up near his career stats through the end of next year, he’s bound to get close to that value. For a nine-year veteran, does eight million dollars really matter if he’s holding more trophies than Cooperstown?
Second, what if he gets dealt to some chump squad? I’m sure he will regret being stuck until 2012 if he gets shipped to a team with a history of winning similar to the Cubs.
Obviously, the Phillies or another team could bend, and Oswalt could get what he wants: a trade and the guaranteed money. That seems extremely unlikely, so why should Oswalt wait for Godot?
Just waive the clause. Hire some Astros fans to come into the office and do the Waive.
He can be loyal like Lassie in a different city. It’s a win-win-win for all sides involved, and if his only consequence is that he will lose the love of Houston, I’m sure a player with his skills can find some loving somewhere else.
Hell, he could switch to football, and his cannon arm would still be valuable.
Or he can stay in Houston, and get used to his ragtag bunch of teammates. He won’t see the playoffs until he’s on his couch watching FOX at 40 years old.
But hey, at least he’s not ditching town like LeBron. Pleasing everyone else should matter before pleasing himself, right?