On the same day which would later see Jake Westbrook take the mound and get clubbed for five runs, the Texas Rangers signed Cardinals' fans' (and, ahem, certain sports columnists'), favorite target for signing speculation, inking Roy Oswalt to a one year deal.
Why would I mention Westbrook's ugly outing at the same time I'm talking about Oswalt finally signing? Because I don't trust this Cardinal rotation, I've made no secret of the fact I don't trust it, and I plan on being consistent at the very least.
The terms of the deal aren't known just yet, but it is known to be a minor league deal, allowing the Rangers to stash Oswalt in Triple A to make a few starts until he's ready to come up and join the big league rotation.
It's a good move for the Rangers, who own the best run differential in all of baseball but recently lost Neftali Feliz
to elbow inflammation. Scott Feldman
, he of the Amish beard and insurance agent name, is temporarily filling Feliz's spot in the rotation, but for a team with championship aspirations he just doesn't quite measure up. Oswalt steps into a rotation that needs him, and the Rangers can solidify the spot without worrying about how to manage until Feliz is healthy again. It could also free them up to move Feliz back to the bullpen if they decide they want to manage his innings workload, rather than keep him in the rotation the rest of the season.
It also helps out the Rangers in the sense they managed to keep the Angels
from trying to snatch him up; the Orange Countians had been making some noise in recent days about possibly jumping into the Oswalt sweepstakes, particularly with Jered Weaver
fighting a back injury. The Angels would have dearly loved the upgrade; seeing the Rangers pull that upgrade instead has to hurt. The Philadelphia Phillies
also have to be a little disappointed today, considering they just put Roy Halladay
on the disabled list with that most frightening of pitcher injuries, shoulder soreness.
For the Cardinals, I think seeing Oswalt go elsewhere represents a real opportunity missed, albeit perhaps not a crushing one. This edition of the Cardinal offense, even with the injuries coming fast and furious, is elite. The pitching side of things, though, is much more worrisome. I'm not sure Oswalt was the end-all answer, but I do know he was still a very, very good pitcher last season when healthy.
On the other hand, one thing I do trust the Cardinal front office on is the players they choose not to sign. This group has made some bad signings, yes, but there haven't been all that many situations in which they have specifically passed on signing a player only to end up significantly regretting it down the road. For the most part, when the Cardinals pass on a player they have a pretty good reason.
Still, both the allure of seeing Roy Oswalt wearing the Birds on the Bat, and the potential upgrade I think he could have brought to this starting rotation, are not going to be particularly easy to let go of. I think the Cards missed a real opportunity here, and I hate to see it.
As for the state of the Cards' rotation itself, it looks now as if Chris Carpenter may be the only cavalry we should expect this season. Hopefully, the Cardinals' willingness to let Oswalt just pass on by is a positive sign that Carpenter should be back sometime this season; if the outlook on Carp were negative I would hope the club would have been more eager to make an addition. Personally, though, I'm still not hopeful on Carpenter coming back anytime soon; I've seen this movie before, and Chris Carpenter doesn't pitch in years after the Cardinals win the World Series.
So I say goodbye, Roy. Goodbye, stranger, goodbye, old friend. I was kind of hoping I would finally get to see you in a Cardinal uniform, but it looks now like that was a pipe dream from the start. (I'll stop short of Goodnight, Sweet Prince, but I'm totally thinking it.)
I just hope we don't all look back at this moment in mid-September and wonder what might have been if the rotation had been just a little bit better.
So much for the early-season cavalry, folks.