Roy Oswalt’s name is coming up more and more among clubs who are short on pitching depth. A number of teams have been linked to Oswalt, from the favorites (Rangers, Phillies, Red Sox) to the more surprising candidates (Dodgers, Orioles, Brewers). Oswalt has thrown for the three favorites as well as the Dodgers in recent weeks, and we seem to be getting close to a decision. Of the six teams involved, the prevailing logic appears to be that the Rangers are the favorite for Oswalt’s services. But what about the other teams?
Rangers- 4:3 odds. The Rangers seem to make the most sense for Oswalt from a practical standpoint. Their home in Dallas is (relatively) close to Oswalt’s home in Mississippi, they’re a solid contender (in fact, the best team in the American League), and they have an opening in their rotation after Neftali Feliz was placed on the DL last week. Feliz’s replacement in the rotation, Scott Feldman, was awful in his first turn in the Feliz’s spot in the rotation last week against the Mariners (4 1/3 IP, 5 ER, 5 BB, 1 K). Feldman starts tonight against the Mariners again, and if he struggles against their weak offense once again, the need for a different arm in the rotation will grow even stronger. But what throws me off would be what the Rangers would do with Feliz once he returns if they sign Oswalt. There is absolutely not a need for him in Texas’s lights out bullpen, and the rest of the Rangers rotation is pitching marginally well thusfar this yaer.
Dodgers- 4:1 odds. The Dodgers pitching staff this year has been led by Clayton Kershaw, who has been his usual awesome self, and Chris Capuano, who is having a career year so far. Ted Lilly just went on the DL with shoulder inflammation, and will be replaced by rookie Nathan Eovaldi, who had a 3.09 ERA in 35 innings in AAA Chattanooga this year. During a brief stint in the majors last year, Eovaldi struck out 23 while walking 20, and the Dodgers can’t have a performance like that this time around. LA’s other two starters, Chad Billingsley and Aaron Harang, have been effective, but underwhelming. The Dodgers look like they should coast to a NL West title this year, and really should be focusing on tweaking their team for playoff success. The addition of Oswalt to an already veteran rotation would do nothing but help.
Phillies- 6:1 odds. Philadelphia’s need for Oswalt will grow exponentially if the news that comes back on Roy Halladay’s shoulder isn’t good. The Phillies currently are without Vance Worley in their rotation, and Halladay could join him soon on the DL after leavnig Saturday’s game without recording an out due to shoulder soreness. The Phillies can make do with Kyle Kendrick replacing Worley in the rotation, but replacing Halladay would be a much taller task. A veteran like Oswalt could be just what fits the bill for the Phillies.
Red Sox- 12:1 odds. I’m not sure Oswalt would want to join the dysfunctional atmosphere in the Boston clubhouse, but man, they could really use him. Boston’s best starter has been young Felix Doubront, and while Josh Beckett has been fine, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Daniel Bard have all been disappointments so far. Oswalt might perform very well for the Red Sox, but I don’t think the front office would be too hot for bringing in another free agent starter to potentially solve the starting pitching problems for half a season. It’s like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.
Orioles- 20:1 odds. I really don’t think Oswalt would have any desire to go to Baltimore, a team that has pretty much been a non-contender for the last 15 years. But the Orioles are currently in a tie for first place in the AL East, and playing some really good ball. But at the same time, I don’t think that owner Peter Angelos would give GM Dan Duquette the OK to open up the wallet and dedicate the necessary funds to signing Oswalt. On another note, I really don’t think he fits in with their long-term plan. While Oswalt would be a massive improvement over Tommy Hunter in Baltimore’s rotation, he’s 34 years old. The oldest Orioles starter is 29. Baltimore is trying to build a foundation, not trying to get to the playoffs for one year, and then fall back to the bottom of the pack.
Brewers- 100:1 odds. I wasn’t surprised that the Brewers were interested in Oswalt…but I was surprised that they think they’d have any shot at him. The Brewers are eight games under .500 and seven games out of the NL Central lead right now, and the team continues to get ravaged with injuries. I also understand the logic of trying to make a run before Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke hit free agency. Three Opening Day starters are currently hurt, two of whom will be out for the year with torn ACLs. Surrounding Ryan Braun with a fantastic core of players is obviously the plan, but the Brewers are just having every break go against them this year, and Oswalt wouldn’t help enough for Milwaukee to return to the postseason.
In summary: even if Oswalt turned down the first offer from the Rangers, expect him to end up there after all is said and done. It just makes the most sense right now.