You know the expression “stranger things have happened?” It’s an expression we use everyday, probably to the point of overuse.
We say it when we play the lottery. We say it when we enter the HGTV Dream Home contest every year. We say it when we imagine the Eagles winning the Super Bowl at the start of every season, despite the fact that Andy Reid remains head coach of that football team.
And in this particular case, it is à propos as well.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports mentioned on Saturday that Roy Oswalt could still end up on the Phillies in 2012. Now, I’m not sure what kind of funny mushrooms are being served in the Rosenthal household, but they must be Aaron Sorkin-potent. Has he forgotten the Phils have Joe Blanton’s $10.5 million contract on the books for this year and Kyle Kendrick as a swing man/spot starter/potential 5th starter?
Or does he think Ruben is capable of pullilng off a miracle Herb Brooks would be proud of? Here’s what Rosenthal had to say…
"Oswalt had a positive experience in Philadelphia, where he went 16-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 221 2/3 innings after arriving in a trade midway through the 2010 season. Oswalt remains interested in returning to the Phillies, sources say. But they haven’t been aggressive in looking for rotation help this off-season, given the formidable – and expensive – cast of starters they currently possess."
It seems from Rosenthal’s reporting that Oswalt is the one who is more aggressively pursuing another year in Philadelphia. What is amazing is that Oswalt will probably end up making less than Blanton in 2012. It seems highly unlikely either the Cardinals, Rangers or Red Sox are willing to pony up more than $10 million for Oswalt’s services, and Oswalt seems determined to land someplace that has a shot at the World Series.
In order for the Phils to even consider bringing Oswalt back, they would have to find a taker for Blanton’s over-sized contract. A good spring training might make Blanton a little more palatable, especially if teams see he is healthy once again. Still, Joe Blanton is Joe Blanton. He’s a #4 on a mediocre staff, and a #5 starter on a good staff. And $10.5 million is a lot to pay for a #5 starter coming off an injury that wiped out his previous season.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Amaro would sign Oswalt for any amount of money with Blanton still in the fold. Even if Oswalt’s demands were $4-5 million, the Phillies are so close to the luxury tax that it would be impossible to bring Roy aboard.
And really, how much does Oswalt have left? While he didn’t stink in 2011, he clearly wasn’t the same guy he was in 2010. Last year he had a 3.69ERA, struck out a career-low six batters per nine innings and a career high WHIP of 1.338.
And of course there was his clunker in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cardinals as well.
Backs are chronic. They don’t ever get all better. Perhaps an off-season without pulling tree stumps out of the ground and doing heavy-duty construction has put his back in a better position to succeed. But the possibility exists that Oswalt will decline even further in 2012.
However, if Roy was able to put up numbers this year like he did last year, they would still be better than anything Blanton is likely to do. Blanton would KILL for a 3.69ERA in 2012, that’s for sure.
Oswalt over Blanton would certainly be an upgrade. And he would likely be cheaper. Ruben is certainly seeing if he can somehow get Blanton out of town and bring in a cheaper, better pitcher.
And maybe there is a way. Perhaps Oswalt doesn’t want to play in Boston at all. Certainly Boston, and any other team with half a brain stem, would rather pay Oswalt $5 million a year next year than pay Blanton $10.5 million. But Oswalt can choose where he wants to go, so if Boston really is stuck and needs another starter, maybe a Blanton-to-Beantown deal might be a viable option for them.
Still, that scenario, and any other scenario that involves Blanton being traded anywhere, is highly unlikely.
And that makes an Oswalt return to Citizens Bank Park in 2012 highly unlikely as well.