MLB Trade Rumors: Roy Oswalt Trade? Phillies Must Have It Their Way

Matt BabiarzContributor IJuly 27, 2010

HOUSTON - MAY 31:  Pitcher Roy Oswalt #44 of the Houston Astros complains about the strike zone in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on May 31, 2010 in Houston, Texas. Oswalt was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Bill Hohn. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

It’s been just over two months since Roy Oswalt spoke with members of the Houston Astros front office to request a trade to a contending team. And with baseball’s trade deadline only 4 days away, there is no shortage of contenders looking for the gift that always fits: A quality starting pitcher.

If the trade deadline were the finale of The Bachelorette, many baseball experts believe that the Phillies would be one of the suitors on a bent knee, with a $16 million ring extended to the Astros ace.

And while the Phillies new starting rotation could be downright frightening, GM Ruben Amaro would be wise not to show the type of desperation that we have come to expect from the wannabe stars of reality television.

For one thing, the asking price for a top starting pitcher may have already been set by the Arizona Diamondbacks, a franchise in a very similar position as the Houston Astros. On Sunday, they shipped ace Dan Haren to the contending Angels for Joe Saunders and three prospects.

So, the only other top-flight starter available at the trade deadline brought the Diamondbacks the return of a 29 year-old pitcher with a 6-10 record and 4.62 ERA, as well as a group of three young players who failed to even rank among the team’s top-10 minor league prospects.

Considering the Haren trade, it would be wise for Ruben Amaro to decline any proposals that ask for minor league gems such as Jonathan Singleton or Anthony Gose (it is assumed that top prospect Domonic Brown is not even on the table).

Of course, in setting the price for a commodity such as Roy Oswalt, the Astros would be foolish not to make significant demands. And it’s possible that Astros GM Ed Wade could hold on to his ace unless he can get the premium package of young players that would begin the rebuilding of his franchise.

Unfortunately for Wade, his team has become old (6 prominent players over the age of 35,) irrelevant (19 games under .500), and extremely overpriced (their $92 million payroll is 14th in baseball, while their record is 25th out of 30 Major League teams). So, can the Astros really afford to keep Oswalt and continue down the same expensive and losing path?

And finally, if recent rumors are to be believed, Roy Oswalt is unsure if he wants to play for a big city team and deal with the expectations that go along with it. This is in stark contrast to another small town, southern boy that the Phillies acquired at last year’s trade deadline. If Roy Oswalt has the opposite demeanor of Cliff Lee, does Ruben Amaro Junior really want to give up the world for him, while trusting that he will be ready to take the ball against the Yankees in a few months?

So, here is some quick advice for Ruben Amaro Junior, the man facing the pressure of finalizing a major deal for Roy Oswalt in the next four days. Hold the line. To quote the famous Burger King ad campaign, “Have it your way”. If the Astros continue to make unreasonable demands, shift your attention to your tattered bullpen and unbalanced bench. While neither of these areas are going to make headlines, their improvement could easily result in four or five more wins in August and September. And once your team is playing postseason ball, you can send Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels to the mound and let your improving offense do their thing yet again.