Fred “Coupon” let Roy Oswalt go to the Philadelphia Phillies! Lets panic and jump off the bandwagon!
Did that scare off the trolls, Phillies fans and New York Mets defeatists? Good, because the Oswalt deal may have actually worked out in our boys’ favor.
I can’t lie, the longtime Houston Astro ace has been just that, an ace. He’s got a tremendous fire in his belly and his arm. A dominant force since entering the league in 2001 and tossing a 2.73 ERA in 28 game, Oswalt boasts high 90s cheddar with good sinking movement, a 12-6 curve, and the less frequently used slider and change-up. He’s pitched at least 180 innings in seven of nine full seasons, averaging 221 innings per 162 games.
What’s not to love about the guy?
First and foremost, Oswalt is not a spring chicken anymore. He’ll turn 33 in late August. Another famous power pitcher short on size threw his last great season at the age of 33 – Pedro Martinez. Pedro was a good acquisition for the Mets because he brought legitimacy back to Flushing, as well as his talent. Convincing big name free agents to wear blue and orange is no longer a concern and the deal would solely be about his talent.
Another issue is Oswalt’s track record of injuries. His stats suggest he could continue playing full seasons until he calls it quits in the very near future. Stats can be deceiving. Oswalt suffered a severe shoulder injury in the minor leagues, which was apparently cured by a mishap working on his truck. He missed the playoffs with a groin injury in 2001, and aggravated the same injury again in 2003. He was diagnosed with a small disc protrusion in 2008; that may have caused a muscle strain in his hip and general discomfort in his back.
The left-handed Happ, 27, projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Gose is a high-risk/high-reward prospect at Class A who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Wallace, who is tearing up Triple-A. Villar, 19, is a slick shortstop in Class A ball with good speed, a decent average and poor plate discipline. I’ve heard the trio described as a solid major leaguer, toolsy prospect and a young prospect. It’s not the expensive packages other GMs have been demanding, but an Oswalt-to-Mets deal easily could have included centerfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, middle infielder Ruben Tejada.
Trades also require filling needs for both teams (usually). Do the Mets need another reliable starting pitcher? Absolutely. Do they need an expensive ace? Maybe not. With the news that Hisanori Takahashi will likely end up in the bullpen again, the rotation looks like Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey. At their best moments this season, all four looked lights-out front end starters. Then again, Santana struggled mightily through the first inning against St. Louis before finding his groove, and Pelfrey is fighting to regain the dominance he displayed in the first half. If either pitcher reverts to form, they probably can do with a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher like Ted Lilly instead of Oswalt or another ace.
That said, I could easily root for Oswalt if he donned blue and orange.