But fear not, Dodger fans; your hopes need not be dashed. Let's examine the case for, shall we, and see if we can't just lift your spirits.
Olney starts with the premise that an Oswalt trade would be "difficult," and therefore improbable, not just for the Dodgers, but for general managers of the entire sport. MSTI agrees with the "difficult" label, and to be fair, so do a few others semi-in-the-know.
Difficult. In other words, "Moommee, I can't do my homework, it's too hard. Wah!!!"
C'mon people. Life's difficult. You face challenges, or to use Olney's word, "hurdles." Well, I don't know about you, but I've faced some pretty serious hurdles in my life, and while I may not always land on my feet (or anywhere close, to be perfectly honest), I'll be damned if I'm not jumping over the next one, rather than throw up my hands, defeated and crawled into a ball.
The suggestion that a trade for an ace pitcher – or any difference-making athlete – is "difficult" is a waste of line-space. It's a nonstarter, if you will.
Of course a trade of this magnitude is difficult. Jeez man, you want a player the caliber of Roy Oswalt, you take some initiative, add a thimble full of creativity, throw in some salesmanship and get it done. You got nothing, you got nothing to lose. Make an effort.
Next hurdle, according to Olney and friends, is money. Like duh. Frontline starting pitchers come with salaries. And yeah, $29 million is a bleepload of money. No bleep, Sherlock.
But break it down a bit, and say Oswalt's making $2.5 million per month in 2010, which he is. I'm not suggesting the Dodgers wait, but these things take time, and by the July 31st trading deadline, you'll be looking at $5 mil for a stretch run, and hopefully three rounds of playoffs. I'm sorry, but Oswalt is worth every penny of $5 million for what he'd bring to Los Angeles.
The benefit for Frank McCourt, in pr value alone, is almost incalculable. You want the City of Dodgers and millions of fans the globe over on your side, get Roy Oswalt. It's not that complicated. Not really.
Fine, there's $16 million in the deal for next year. Again I say; worth the price, especially when you consider what most star players accomplish in a walk year. Then consider that Cliff Lee will be asking for a nine-figure deal come November, and suddenly $16 mil looks like a good investment, and it comes without the risk of a long-term commitment.
In fact, this should be the textbook method of acquiring number one starters. One and a half years left on a contract is ideal.
Supposedly, Oswalt's full no-trade clause is a problem. Sure, if he's Fred McGriff. Or Kenny Rogers, about whom four years ago I said this: "With the trading deadline approaching, it’s just about time for Kenny Rogers to request a deal away from a contender."
If the no-trade is a hurdle, we're talking low hurdles here. No Edwin Moses required. The Dodgers will not have to pick up the $17 million option for 2011. Oswalt's going to grab what could be his last best shot at a ring. You've got to ask him, of course, and it wouldn't hurt to ask nicely, but he'll take the deal. I'm telling you, he'll take the deal.
Olney and his company of devil's advocates say Oswalt's health is an issue too, because, well, he's had a bad back. A lot of guys have had back backs, OK, and if you recall the winter of 1998, another leaving-Houston pitcher was said to have a bad back – and actually did have a bad back – guy by the name of Randy Johnson.
Dodgers passed, right? They balked at the balky back, and all the Unit did was go out and win four straight Cy Young Awards. Look, does the phrase "due diligence" mean anything to you? Ned Colletti is not going to sign another Jason Schmidt.
Oswalt will get a thorough going over by a team of scientists. He'll be poked, prodded, X-rayed, MRI'd, flight-simulated and even cavity searched, if need be. To whatever degree Oswalt's health is as much of a hurdle as any pitcher's, it'll be about as easily jumped over as the foul line.
Now, for the qualifications. First of all, Oswalt is 139-76 lifetime,
With a winning percentage of .647, Oswalt stands fourth among active pitchers, behind Johan Santana, Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson. Sandy Koufax, you ask? 165-87 and .655.
The career ERA of 3.21 ranks Oswalt second among active starters, with only Santana and his 3.12 ahead of him.
He's 2-0 with a 1.06 the past three seasons at Dodger Stadium, which is going to feel like the Grand Canyon next to that ridiculous Minute Maid Park, and has a 19-6, 3.00 post All-Star break record over the same period.
In a little thing known as the postseason, how does a record of 4-0 strike you? Oswalt beat Atlanta and St. Louis in the 2005 and 2006 NLDS respectively, and won both his starts in the 2006 NLCS, including the clincher, which put his Astros in their one and only World Series.
For his work in October, Oswalt took home the 2006 NLCS MVP trophy, and as if the significance of that needs illustrating, Orel Hershiser won one of those in 1988. You remember 1988.
To review, look at the names mentioned in the last few paragraphs: Halladay, Hershiser, Hudson, Koufax and Santana. Oswalt is that good. Now subtract the three only-dreaming-of-pitching-in-the-Series names, and you're left with Orel, Sandy and Roy. All Dodgers. At least, we hope so.
I won't say this is a deal that has to be made, but it certainly is a deal that can be made, and very well may be. The Dodgers will not have to give up the entire store to get Oswalt. A fair combination of young talent and the picking up of salary will do it. Emphasis on the word "fair."
My guess is, in addition to some potentially-good prospects, and perhaps someone like Blake DeWitt (but perhaps not), it'll take one of Los Angeles' top minor leaguers. But just one universally-coveted Dodger blue chip. Yes, maybe Dee Gordon. That absolutely works for me, and I imagine Messrs Colletti, Torre and McCourt are already discussing it.
Forget the suggested case against put forth by others. The evidence doesn't amount to a bunch of actual "hurdles." They're variables, not hurdles; factors, to be considered in the making of an intelligent decision.
Roy Oswalt should be and can be a Los Angeles Dodger...
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