Game Time: Roy Oswalt -- Is It Possible He's Pitching Just a Little Too Well?
Sending all of you off with a brief nugget to ponder as you begin your drunken, Memorial Day haze. Here goes....
As of this morning, these are the things we know:
1.) The Astros suck; they're 16-31, and they rank last in the National League in every statistical (as in numbers) and subjective (as in "they are paint-drying boring to watch") ranking in the National League.
2.) They are at least two full years away from having anything resembling a rebuilt nucleus, and they still need more help from their farm system to achieve that end.
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3.) Roy Oswalt is their key asset. He's a starting pitcher, and a damn good one at that.
4.) Roy Oswalt is 32 years old, so he's still young enough to be considered "in his prime" but he's too old to stick around here for this bullshit.
5.) Roy Oswalt has said he would agree to a trade to a contending ball club this season, the first time he has become publicly active with such a stance, i.e. he's serious.
These are all facts.
All of these truths would seem to mesh perfectly. The Astros are a bad team and have a rosterical (like that word?) make-up that indicates they will be bad until 2013; they have an asset (Oswalt) that is of the age and caliber where you would think the Astros could pick up at least one "can't miss" prospect in a trade, maybe two, and that asset is willing to agree to the right deal.
All good, right? Not necessarily.
Up until now, I thought the biggest impediment to getting an Oswalt trade done was the sheer minisculity (yeah, it's a holiday weekend, I'm just making up words at this point) of the sample space of teams that would be a fit. Think about it -- to complete a deal, you have to find a team with the right mix of prospects to give the Astros, financial wherewithal to pay Oswalt, and contender's status to get Roy to agree. Not easy.
Again I thought that was the biggest impediment. Until today.
In today's Houston Chronicle, there was a quote from Astros general manager Ed Wade that, if he believes it, would indicate we're in serious trouble here in Houston:
"We believe we can win with the guys that we have here," Wade said. "I still think that as the offense continues to improve, and it will improve, that we have a chance to get back into this thing."
Ed, you can't be serious. I want to believe that this is just you trying to keep the chins of the other 24 guys and your coaching staff pointed up as you head into the dog days of summer. Or perhaps it's you knowing that if you indicate before the calendar turns to June that you are focused on anything except "being a champion" that you'll find yourself on the next train out of town sitting in between Kaz Matsui and his massage therapist. Or perhaps, as Forrest Gump would say, "maybe both is happening at da same time..."
Oh no...a Drayton McLane mind-meld has begun
Regardless, my fear now is not on the potential lack of suitors, but on the delusion from on high (which we are all hoping Ed Wade was here to curtail, not get swept up in the brainwashing). Look at Oswalt's numbers and they're ridiculous. Forget about the 3-6 record -- of all the starting pitchers in the National League, there are two that are in the top seven in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP: Adam Wainwright and Roy Oswalt.
In short, it's Dominant Roy. Mid 2000's Roy. On-a-good-team-go-to-the-bank-with-a-win Roy.
If the delusion from up top is real, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more than a puncher's chance that the question changes from "What can we get for Roy?" to "How can we trade one of the top three or four pitchers in baseball? One of our own?" It flies in the face of what clearly ails this organization right now (a lack of young players to build around in the future), but so has pretty much everything that's been done (and not been done) over the last five years.
My suspicion? Average Roy would still net you a nice package of prospects. Better Than Average Roy would net you a really sweet package of prospects. Transcendent Dominant Uber-Roy turns Drayton McLane into a baseball hoarder, where he just can't let go.
Right now we're getting Transcendent Dominant Uber-Roy. And I don't know if that's a good thing.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twitter at http://twittter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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