Posts Tagged ‘Roy Oswalt’

Oswalt & Lidge: What Does Free Agency Mean?

November 3, 2011

Roy Oswalt

With the Philadelphia Phillies either declining their options or failing to tender new contract extension offers to former Astros Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge, both aging pitchers move now to free agency and wide open question about their new worths on the big league level. When you get down to it, “upside” is always the big factor in dealing with the valuation that clubs put on players. All of these people have ability or they wouldn’t even be in the hunt for big league demand and compensation. The fulcrum point on the see saw of decision-making is always where a player is on the slide from prospect to suspect.

Players have an “upside” when clubs still see them as having multiple years of exceptional performance to the level of their demonstrated abilities. They are on the “downside” when some combination of bad years and unavailability due to injury begins to suggest that they are no longer worth the risk of an expensive multi-year deal.

Oswalt and Lidge both seem to have reached the “suspect” stage of present contract considerations. Roy Oswalt will be 35 years old before next season’s end; Brad Lidge will go into the 2012 season at age 35. Both men have experienced arm troubles that have limited their availability to the Phils in recent times – and neither has been able to put up the kinds of results that alone justify big bucks and multiple season guaranties.

On the other hand, look at how the lights-out results of a single late career season can turn everything around. A year ago, Lance Berkman couldn’t even buy an on-the-cheap homecoming one-year deal with the Astros. Now he’s signed with St. Louis, had a great year, batted over .400 in the World Series, will always be remembered as the Cardinal who save the club from their second one-strike-away cliff in Game Six, signed a new $12 million dollars deal with the Cardinals for 2012, and will now be spending the winter walking around Houston with a World Series Championship ring.

Brad Lidge

Charlie Palillo of Radio Station 790-AM made an interesting point last night about Lance. Because of his performance with St. Louis last year, and especially because of his big moments in the World Series, Palillo believes that Lance Berkman will probably always be best remembered by most people as a Cardinal, not as just another career Astro who never quite got there. As much as I hate it, I have to agree with Charlie. Fans remember players best from their moments of great triumph. And sadly in Houston, we are still waiting to build a list that emanates from a World Series victory.

Maybe 2012 will be the season that either Roy Oswalt or Brad Lidge, or both, shall find a place to turn around their own career identities. If they do, it probably will not be in Houston. At their ages, and even playing on the cheap, neither man fits into our Houston plan – whatever that plan may actually be by the time we get the ownership strings untangled.





Cardinal Berkman: And Other Forgettable Images

December 5, 2010

Cardinal Berkman may distort Astro Memories.

The thought of Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio ever donning the uniform of another MLB club, especially the flaming red digs of the St. Louis Cardinals is beyond the pale. Now Lance Berkman comes along and signs with the rival Cardinals and its almost as bad.

Never mind the fact that Lance wanted to come home to Houston after his unfortunate brief stay in The Bronx, but he was turned away at the gate by Ed Wade, the man who now answers the door at Minute Maid Park, this town’s version of the Emerald City in Oz.

“But I want to speak to Drayton,” cried Lance.

“Nobody speaks to Drayton these days, Lance,” answered Wade, “not nobody, no how, no way. – Unless, of course, you are prepared to present a buyer’s offer for the club, the  door to Mr. McLane’s private chambers are now closed to any discussion of all other baseball business.”

Well, in all fairness to all parties, the outcome of Lance Berkman’s recently abortive attempt to come home again wasn’t quite that ludicrous or severe. There simply wasn’t any room on the Astros roster for the aging star under the atmosphere of the current rebuilding program. As General Manager Wade put it somewhere, every at bat the club might give to Berkman now would be one less growth at bat opportunity for newcomer Brett Wallace. The club needs to find out if Wallace is the man at first in the future or not. And the club cannot accomplish that aim by giving away all those at bats to Lance Berkman as he plays out the downside of his career.

Now, does Berkman’s signing by the Cardinals set up this familiar headline script? “MAN’S ONCE-UPON-A-TIME BEST FRIEND COMES HOME AS MAD DOG TO BITE FORMER OWNER!”

You bet it does, but it’s short term, maybe for 2011 only, if Berkman and the Cardinals even get through the entire season together. Age-related injury or a performance level that falls totally off the table could limit or end Berkman’s play in 2011, even though we certainly don’t wish that upon him. Chance are, for a while, at least, a late game at Minute Maid Park may indeed  be lost on a late inning gapper hit by Berkman – or by a left-handed, opposite field pop into the Crawford Boxes by the man with the Jay Leno chin.

It’s part of the game and we shall all survive it – as we did in the past with the return of Rusty Staub as a Montreal Expo, the return of Joe Morgan as a Cincinnati Red, the return of Jimmy Wynn as a Los Angeles Dodger, and the brief  return of Larry Dierker as a St. Louis Cardinal.

Let’s not forget too that there is another returning player visit by a former Astro blue-blood coming up in 2011. This one didn’t happen in 2010 because of the schedule, but it no doubt will happen next season, almost assuredly. And this one could be painful for several years to come.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Roy Oswalt

Oswalt Closes on Niekro as All Time Astro Winner

July 11, 2010

One win behind Joe Niekro, Roy Oswalt got to the top in Houston faster than anybody!

As of this day and morning date, Sunday, July 11, 2010, Roy Oswalt has compiled 143 wins pitching only as a Houston Astro from 2001 to 2010. Roy trails knuckleballer Joe Niekro by a single victory  on the list of all time biggest franchise pitching winners. Joe Niekro registered 221 total wins in a 22-season total career (1967-1988) and he bagged 144 of these babies as a Houston Astro hurler in eleven seasons from 1975 to 1985.

The question now is: Which will come first – Roy’s Houston franchise record-breaking win as a pitcher – or his trade for future value to a 2010 title contender in this year of the “Expensive Veterans for Sale As We Build For the Future” campaign down at Minute Maid Park?

Time will tell – and time is short. The trading deadline is coming up on July 31st and, as the Houston Chronicle covers more completely this morning, the Seattle trade of the more affordable Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers has elevated Roy Oswalt to the top rung of most desirable candidates still out there on the vine. Only Roy’s heavy-bucks contract and how much the Astros will have to eat of it to swing a deal stands in the way.

At any rate, if Roy’s going to tie and pass Joe Niekro for the all time lead in franchise pitching wins, he had better get them quickly. In terms of fewest innings pitched to get there, Roy Oswalt already has reached the second rung on the ladder faster than anyone before him.

If we have to give him up, we are going to miss him. As an Astros fan, I will simply hope that the Reds of our own division don’t come up with the best, most workable deal for Roy. His loss to Houston would be greatly compounded if we had to deal with Roy coming back to pitch against us in three home stands each season over the next five to eight years. The only worse trade would be for the Astros to deal Oswalt to the Cardinals. Thank God the Cards are cool on pitching, for now. They are, aren’t they?

For the record, here’s the Top Ten List of Biggest Winners among Houston Pitchers for the entire period of the major league franchise from 1962 through this date in 2010. The list includes the number of innings that each pitcher worked to get there:

(1) Joe Niekro (144 wins in 2270.00 IP)

(2) Roy Oswalt (143 wins in 1923.33 IP)

(3) Larry Dierker (137 wins in 2294.44 IP)

(4) Mike Scott (110 wins in 1704.00 IP)

(5) J.R. Richard (107 wins in in 1606.00 IP)

(6) Nolan Ryan (106 wins in 1854.67 IP)

(7) Don Wilson (104 wins in 1748.33 IP)

(8) Shane Reynolds (103 wins in 1622.33 IP)

(9) Bob Knepper (93 wins in 1738.00 IP)

(10) Ken Forsch (78 wins in 1493.67 IP)

Have a peaceful Sunday, everybody!

The Trouble with Oswalt’s Trade Request.

May 22, 2010

Astros Ace Roy Oswalt Turns 33 on Aug. 29th.

If you look at the wall he’s been up against over the past couple of years, but especially this season, you can’t blame Roy Oswalt for wanting out of his situation with the Houston Astros. Everybody remotely close to things here in Houston and how these things work in baseball can see his point – but also the trouble the Astros are going to have fulfilling his request.

In his 9 games pitched in 2010, Oswalt has pitched well enough to have been 9-0 with a club that can both hit and protect late inning leads. With an ERA of 2.66 and a WHIP score of 1.066, Roy has done the same job this year that he’s done 7  times in his first 8 seasons (2001-08) of putting at least 14 wins in the success column for each of those seasons. This year, as you no doubt already know, he’s off to a 2-6 record that threatens to end up worse than his 8-6 fall in the injury-filled year that was 2009. The victories that eluded Oswalt in 2009 were largely due to his own inability to pitch deep and the pen’s inability to hold narrow leads. In 2010, the problem has been the almost total failure of the offense to give Roy any run support.

Now that Oswalt has finally had enough to shout “get me out of here,” it isn’t hard to see how that might be best for the player and a club that needs total rebuilding. On the surface, it says, “Hey, let’s move Roy to a club where he has a chance of winning and maybe reaching another World Series while the Astros accept  some good prospects in return that will help the team begin to paint a clearer picture of the future.

The troubles facing Astros General Manger Ed Wade in this matter hit fast and hard:

(1) Roy Oswalt turns 33 on August 29th and he now has a back injury history that has never been fully resolved. (2) Oswalt is owed 31 million over the next two seasons with a 2 million dollar buyout for the 2012 season. (3) Only a select group of teams have a great chance at the World Series over the next three years, but do those clubs both want to deal and have anything to offer that makes it really worthwhile to the Astros? (4) Are there any qualified clubs out there who want to trade a couple of good young prospects for a 33-year old ace with back trouble history and a heavy salary baggage that comes with him, even if the Astros agree to absorb some of it?

If any of us had the answers here, we could probably be of benefit to Ed Wade, but things don’t work that way. The fact is, Ed Wade may not be able to do anything constructive with Oswalt’s request. In that case, only two choices will remain and neither smacks as good news.

If General Manager Wade can’t move Oswalt in a deal that will at least help the Astros too, he will be forced to (1) appeal to Oswalt’s sense of pride and professionalism for making the best of it here as an Astro, while trying to quell any backlash from teammates; or (2) making a giveaway/salary dump deal just to get Roy out of Dodge because of the morale issue he could become for some of the others.

Jerry Witte & Roy Oswalt, 2001.

I have liked Roy Oswalt from his rookie season and I wish that things had never come down to this kind of situation. The rookie 2001 version of Roy was so nice and respectful to my old friend, the late Jerry Witte, on that night in August that great old former Houston slugger got to throw out the first pitch and Roy Oswalt served as his “catcher.”

“Young man,” Jerry asked of young Roy, “where did you learn to pitch like you do?” “My daddy taught me, sir,” Oswalt said.

“Well, you just keep up the good work,” Jerry added. “You’re a credit to your daddy and you’re going to be big credit to the game of baseball.”

Jerry Witte was right about Roy Oswalt. When I think about Roy and how he so respectfully helped Jerry that night in his one and only trip to the new downtown ballpark, even standing with him through the National Anthem, I hate the thought of knowing that the young gentleman from Weir, Mississippi will soon be moving on.

I know. Business is business. But Astro fans are going to miss Roy Oswalt once he’s gone. At least he’s not leaving over money. He’s leaving, or wants to leave, so he can have a taste of winning the big one again. No matter who the Astros may get for him, it will be our loss, the fans’ loss.

The status of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio as career Astros is about to grow even larger as a baseball rarity.