Nationals Baseball: Roy Oswalt talk

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roy Oswalt talk

Philly made it official, declining the 16 million dollar option on Roy Oswalt's option.  With arbitration being extremely unlikely to get the Phillies the deal they want, Oswalt is going to be the free-est of the free agents, one that can be signed without losing any draft picks.  That's a big bonus for draft pick loving Mike Rizzo.  But there's more to Oswalt than just a typical free agent.

Oswalt has long made it clear the baseball life isn't really for him.  He said before his last deal that he could very well retire when this contract is up, and every reporter seems to believe he's serious. This talk, and his last contract, make everyone believe that his next deal, if ithere is one, will be of the one or two year variety.  That type of short-term investement and the lack of draft pick compensation would make him very attractive to the Nats... and everyone else. Oswalt will most likely get to pick and choose his next spot from a dozen suitors.  Philadelphia could be it, but why take less money to throw in a hitters park, a long way from home, for a team possibly looking at an off year?  It seems unlikely that he'll be back to me.

But pick and choose doesn't exactly bode well for the Nats.  They should be good next year but can they guarantee a playoff spot? Is DC any practical distance closer to Mississippi than Philly? Texas, Atlanta, and St. Louis all could offer closer locations to home and arguably better shots at the playoffs. If he can't be wowed by the money then I just don't see Washington winning the bidding war for him.

Do the Nats even want Oswalt? Yes they do. The narrative of the season is a little alarming. The drop in K-rate (6.02 K/9 this year - 7.35 career) and the overwhelming reliance on his change (up from 15% of his pitches last year to 19% last year) rather than his breaking stuff (down from 29% to 20%) says "pitcher on the decline".  But this narrative is misleading.  First off everything else remained stable.  He was walking the same, giving up the same type of hits. Sure his HR/FB ratio was a little lucky (0.65 this year, 0.75 career) but the BABIP he had was a little unlucky (.316 , .296).  Nothing else says decline. More importantly, if you look at his splits before and after injury, you can see that the back was bringing him down.  He was at 15% breaking stuff and a 5.3 K/9 when he went out.  He came back and pitched more in line with what you'd expect from Oswalt.

Roy Oswalt going to pitch well.  If healthy, he could be great.  If like this year, he's still good. As a one or two year gamble, any team would do well to pick up Oswalt.  I don't see it being the Nats.


Donald said...

Do you think Oswalt has any hard feelings with Philly not picking up his contract? If yes, other things being equal, may like the idea of going to the Nats or Atlanta in hopes of sticking it to Philadelphia.

By the way, you state that next year could be an off one for the Phillies. Do you see them as the division favorite still? In the absence of roster moves, how do you see things stacking up?

Harper said...

He doesn't strike me as the type to hold grudges, but if it gets him to DC I'm for it.

In the absence of moves I don't. Pitching should still be top notch but the runs scored last year was merely good and that's with Howard, a career year from Victorino, an amazing couple months of Pence, and better years from Rollins and Mayberrry than expected (basically Utley's injury was their only negative surprise). I'd expect the Braves to be the favorite but not a big one.

Braves-Phillies-Nats-Marlins-Mets is how I'd put it.

But "absence of moves" is a big caveat. Surely they'll (and the Braves. and the Nats?) will make moves.

Wally said...

I would love to see the Nats get Oswalt. I think (hope?) that pitching with Stras may be a draw. He seems to excite other players as much as us fans.

The worry is the Yanks. They'll throw the highest dollars, need pitching and it is an unknown whether the draw of NY and its spotlight is an appeal or repellant. Oswalt, as a country guy, may be turned off by it, but maybe not.

This would be 1/2 of my Christmas present, though.

Sec 204 Row H Seat & said...

It will be interesting to see who Rizzo goes after to fill the top starting pitcher/big bat center fielder needs. as Tomas Volkun and the CAPS have shown, lucky bounces can occur. Maybe the NATS achieve that kind of luck with Oswalt or someone else.

Harper said...

Maybe it's just me, but I don't get the idea that pitching with Strasburg would be a draw for a vet. I guess you can come up with reasons, but can you think of a single example of a vet that did such a thing?

I don't think he's coming to the Yanks. Just the vibe I get.

Wally said...

Harper - no, not off the top of my head but there isn't much in there in the best of times.

JDBrew said...

I agree. I can't see Oswalt holding a grudge against Philly. I also can't really see him signing in DC. It's possible, but if he does plan on hanging it up soon, I would think he'll go to a contender. While his addition might make the Nats close to being a contender, I feel like he is more apt to sign with an established winner. I would love to see him in Washington though.