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February 14, 2012
The Ballad of Roy Oswalt
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All of Oswalt’s fellow pitchers were getting paid. Mark Buehrle got so much money from the Miami Marlins that he’ll be able to pay opposing batters to strike out if he can’t strike them out himself. C.J. Wilson got so much money from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim* that he’ll be able to buy every ticket to all the shows on an entire Arcade Fire tour. Then he’ll buy Arcade Fire. Then he’ll start his own chain of arcades and light them on fire (without fear of reprisal, because if Donald Trump has taught us anything, it’s that rich people can do whatever they want).
* Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim anagrams to 1) A Manganese Gene Fools Shill and 2) Neon Hos Smelling A Leafage. It should be noted that I have provided this information to you at no further cost.
Even the Triumvirate of Mediocrity that is Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Bruce Chen got two-year contracts. Sure, two of those contracts came courtesy of the Dodgers, who were last sighted trying to buy real estate in Greece with Icelandic krónur, but it seemed the market was ready to pay Roy Oswalt.
Even the second-worst-case scenario* for Oswalt was a two-year deal at good money in a place he wanted to pitch. Or so we thought.
* The worst-case scenario for Oswalt involved a fish, a sock, a light bulb, an overheated pan filled with cooking oil, and a straitjacketed Weird Al Yankovic. Suffice it to say this was unlikely.
Just before free agency Oswalt met with his agent, Robert Garber, to discuss his impending free agency.
October 29th, 2011
* * *
A month went by. Then another. The big names started to come off the board as Wilson and Buehrle signed. Then the aforementioned Triumvirate of Mediocrity Harang/Chen/Capuano all got their golden tickets to the Wonka factory. (You just know Capuano is going to chew the experimental gum and turn into a giant blueberry.) Rumors started to spread saying Oswalt might sign for fewer than the three years he was previously reported to be seeking.
Just before the holidays, Oswalt’s agent got a call from a baseball reporter wondering why Owalt had yet to sign or, indeed, be seriously connected with any team.
December 20th, 2011
* * *
Somewhere past New Years, Oswalt and his agent began to try to nail down some options. Oswalt was interested in the Cardinals, so his agent gave St. Louis GM John Mozeliak a call.
January 15th, 2012
* * *
Oswalt was also intrigued by the idea of joining the Rangers, so his agent put a call through to Jon Daniels. Daniels wasn’t in, but his call was returned shortly thereafter.
January 16th, 2012
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One team that Roy Oswalt did not want to play for was the Red Sox. Boston’s GM Ben Cherington was interested in Oswalt, however, and Cherington put in a call to the free agent pitcher’s agent to discuss the prospect of joining the Red Sox rotation.
January 21st, 2012
* * *
Later, Cherington tried again, but his attempts at persuasion were not successful.
January 25th, 2012
* * *
Oswalt was receiving interest from teams he wasn’t interested in joining while the teams he wanted to play for were ignoring him. To counteract this unfortunate trend, his agent tried to drum up interest by taking the message to the people. First he tried Arlington, Texas.
January 28th, 2012
* * *
After paying the fine, Oswalt’s agent took his show to St. Louis.
January 30th, 2012
* * *
After improving Oswalt’s stock with what can only be described as a hugely successful public relations campaign, Oswalt and his agent returned to the bargaining table looking to strike a deal. First they met with Jon Daniels back in Arlington.
February 3, 2012
* * *
Then they traveled back to St. Louis for another word with John Mozeliak.
February 5, 2012
* * *
Things got a bit desperate…
February 12, 2012
* * *
It is now February 14th. Roy Oswalt is still a free agent. Roy Oswalt is still a pitcher. Roy Oswalt is still breathing. Yet Oswalt hasn’t cashed in. These things are always hard to nail down from the outside (see “Fielder, Prince” for the latest example) but teams who want Oswalt—and at this point that is primarily the Red Sox—aren’t willing to spend to get him, while the teams he’d consider playing for are willing to spend even less.
This makes some sense when you consider that BP’s injury database lists seven different back injuries for Oswalt dating from August of 2009.
Quick Quiz: A pitcher with a bad back is like…
Of course the answer is D, all of the above, though there is some truth to E as well. Now Roy Oswalt will either have to sign with the Boston Red Sox, which he doesn’t want to do, or accept whatever pittance the Cardinals offer in order to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the great city of St. Louis, which, I hear, has an arch. Roy Oswalt likes arches.
If I have to predict what will happen, and I don’t, I’ll say that Roy Oswalt will sign with the Cardinals. In July, after all of Boston’s starting pitchers are injured in an unfortunate merry-go-round accident, Boston will trade for Roy Oswalt. Roy Oswalt will pitch for the Boston Red Sox. The universe will laugh. The universe hates Roy Oswalt.