Can a possible key to 2012 still be without a team?
There’s a certain 34-year-old pitcher who’s still a free agent. He of the creaky back but still can throw. He of the 9-10 record last year, but a 7-1 record after being traded to the Phillies in 2010. He, of course, is Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt may be an important cog in the machine of some team in 2012, or an ancillary piece that helps put it over the top. The three teams that have interest in Oswalt are the Cardinals, Rangers and Red Sox. Even though Red Sox management says they don’t believe they will add another starting pitcher, the Yankees said they weren’t adding payroll and signed Hiroki Kuroda for $10 million. I believe everything is a fluid situation. Let’s take a look at what each team’s rotation would be with Oswalt in it.
Boston Red Sox:
Health would be the major question mark here as everyone but Lester in the top four have injury concerns. This move would make the bullpen better, as well, since Aceves can move into the sixth or seventh inning, high-leverage situational role. Oswalt’s numbers won’t be as good in the American League because of the DH, as well as Fenway Park. Oswalt will be fine on the east coast in a big market since he was with Philadelphia and performed when healthy.
Texas’ rotation is about strength in numbers and power arms. Oswalt would provide some veteran leadership to this rotation. If anyone underperforms or gets hurt, they can always go to Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman or a plethora of pitching prospects. Again, his numbers would be higher here; however, he would have a great lineup backing him here, as well. This will be the option that is closest to home for Oswalt, which may factor into his decision himself.
St. Louis Cardinals:
A healthy Oswalt in this rotation makes it among the top five rotations in all of baseball. The Cardinals would just need Oswalt to throw about 180 innings, especially with Jake Westbrook in the bullpen as a potential spot starter. A team without Albert Pujols may need its pitching to carry it this year, and adding a pitcher like Oswalt would certainly go a long way to doing that. Oswalt would also stay in the national league where Oswalt has pitched his entire career.
Oswalt may be the key to each of these team’s postseason chances. With a healthy Oswalt, any of these team’s postseason chances go up. Pitching has been the key for postseason runs, and adding a guy who has led the league in wins before and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young Award in six different years can only help.