Free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt has worked out with a number of teams recently, including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox, and he is expected to sign with a team sometime within the next week.
Oswalt is just 34, and he could potentially become a valuable second or third starter for a team in the thick of a playoff race.
That applies to both the Phillies and Red Sox. Both teams are in last place, but both teams are expected to turn their season around and finds a way to contend for a postseason spot.
Last season, Oswalt entered the year as one of Philly’s famed “Four Aces” but back problems prevented him from pitching for six weeks. He finished the season with a 9-10 record and a 3.69 ERA, and he was shelled by the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals in a crucial Game 4 of the NLDS.
As for this season?
I can honestly say I don’t want Oswalt anywhere near my team, for a couple of reasons.
1) He’s not dedicated to the game of baseball anymore. It couldn’t be more obvious. Oswalt talked openly about retirement last season, especially when he took a leave of absence in late April to check on his family in Mississippi after tornadoes ripped through the area. He came back, but back problems put him right on the DL. This offseason, he couldn’t decide if he wanted to come back to baseball, finally saying that he planned to return in June after his kids were finished school for the year.
2) He’s likely not going to be as effective as 2011. Oswalt is a year older than last year. He’s not in as good of shape. He doesn’t have the motivation. So why would anyone think he is going to be as effective as 2011 (which wasn’t even effective compared to the rest of his career)? I predict he will miss some time this season on the disabled list, while winning five to six games with an ERA a little above 4.00.
3) The Phillies don’t need him. They really don’t. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, and Joe Blanton make up the pitching rotation, and Kyle Kendrick has been surprisingly effective (although no one realizes) in spot starts. None of the pitchers are currently injured, so whose spot would Oswalt take? The only reason I can imagine would be if the Phillies were planning to trade one of their pitchers, such as Hamels or Blanton, but even then I would prefer for Kendrick to become the fifth starter rather than Oswalt.
The idea of signing Roy Oswalt isn’t the worst in the world, for a team that really needs pitching and is in the thick of the playoff race.
But for a good team with great starting pitching like the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s just not necessary at all.