Roy Oswalt is telling friends that he cant wait to get out of Houston. That he wants to win. That the whole notion that he won't approve a trade unless the acquiring team exercises his $16 million team option for 2012 is horsefeathers.
Well, if that's the case, then these Oswalt trade discussions amount to the worst-ever game of "Telephone."
Because as you go around the industry, there's a similar sense arising when Oswalt's name comes up: Team officials take offense to Oswalt's actions. Remember, he requested this trade over two months ago. Now granted, no one saw the Astros putting together a historic comeback, but still. As Tyler Kepner brought up to me yesterday, in a conversation at Citi Field, how about displaying a little more faith in your teammates?
Since then? There's been a swaying on team preferences. On the money. And the same goes for Astros owner Drayton McLane and his demands.
But I don't blame McLane for this one iota. Maybe you think he's foolish for the fact that, if it were up to him, this would be a non-issue, and he'd be paying Oswalt $16 million to pitch for the 2011 Astros, and maybe even that 2012 option, too.
Foolish perhaps, but shouldn't McLane score some points for his desire to put a competitive produce on the field every season? We're not talking Jeffrey Loria in Florida here, someone who cuts bait as soon as a player becomes expensive. We're talking, pretty much, about the opposite.
Oswalt, though? He's been all over the map. The latest word is that the Phillies remain the favorites, because 1) Oswalt is willing to go there, and 2) unlike the Cardinals, they don't play in the NL Central.
Yet there are still the issues of a match in talent; the Phillies' farm system has taken a hit from the trades to acquire Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, and the deal of Lee to Seattle hasn't replenished the club's farm system like GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. hoped.
I'm sticking with the prediction that Oswalt stays, but perhaps McLane will relent on his demands because of this: If he keeps Oswalt, then Oswalt will be unhappy, as he has been for the better part of the past three seasons. And you can pretty much set your watch to the fact that we'd be going through this soap opera again next year.
It's one thing to exercise your rights that you've earned as a veteran player; that's what Derrek Lee reportedly has done, by invoking his 10-and-5 no-trade rights to block a deal to the Angels. It's another thing altogether to create a situation, and then turn it into a sideshow. That's being a high-maintenance prima donna.
The Phillies, meanwhile, have taken another hit, as Shane Victorino is on the disabled list. Top prospect Domonic Brown got the call to replace Victorino.
--Thanks to Dennis for alerting me to this USA Today story about Major League Baseball changing its 2011 schedule. I was never bothered by November baseball - we'll have it this year, if the World Series lasts longer than the minimum four games - but I understand why it was a problem.
Of course, in the Yankees' title run last year, the coldest first-pitch time didn't occur in the World Series, either in New York or in Philadelphia. It was ALCS Game 1, on October 16, with a first-pitch temperature of 45 degrees. So this shift doesn't guarantee much. And if a blizzard hits the East Coast on Friday, April 1 of next year, the yakosphere (copyright Neil Best) just might explode.
--I'll check in later if news merits doing so.
--UPDATE, 6:26 p.m.: Well, news merited an update: The Tigers have acquired Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland in return for lefty Giovanni Soto, whose numbers at A ball look encouraging. This trade shows that the Tigers aren't ready to pack it in, despite the injuries this past week to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen.
Peralta has a team option for 2011 that is now at $7.25 million, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. The option increased by $250,000 because of today's trade. With a $250,000 buyout, and Peralta a good but not great player, I'd have to think that the Tigers will not exercise that option. But with regular (injured) third baseman Brandon Inge also coming up on free agency, the Tigers will have at least have that, well, option.
The verdict: Seems like a decent deal for both sides. We'll obviously have to see how Soto, only 19 years old, develops.
UPDATE, 9:19 p.m.: The Dodgers have acquired Scott Podsednik from Kansas City in return for minor-leaguers Lucas May, a catcher, and Elisaul Pimentel, a pitcher. Podsednik is an interesting case. He's part of that David Eckstein/Juan Pierre group of "scrappy" players whom old-school journalists tend to glorify (and then get ripped for doing so on the defunct Fire Joe Morgan). The last couple of years, however, he has put up respectable on-base percentages - .353 last year and .352 this year - while not really increasing his walk percentages.
So what's the deal? If you look at his FanGraphs page, you see that Podsednik has benefited from high batting averages on balls in play during that same span - .341 despite a 17.6 percent line-drive rate last year, and .345 despite an 18.9 percent line-drive rate this year. Surely his speed contributes a little to that. But there's very likely some luck involved.
On the surface it seems like the Dodgers gave up a Quadruple-A catcher in May, and a raw pitcher with potential in Pimentel. Not that high a price, for now. And surely, in that Dodgers clubhouse, there's got to be a morale boost just because a trade actually went down. Given how these last few months have gone for the Dodgers, with the McCourts' divorce, Joe Torre and his coaches and players had to wonder whether they'd get any help.
If Podsednik's BABiP drops, however? That morale boost won't get them very far.