With the non-waiver trade deadline five days away, the Astros seem to be at a stalemate with the Cardinals -- and all of the other interested teams -- over the value of Roy Oswalt.
The Redbirds opened with an admittedly low ball offer. But Houston equally unrealistically wants a slew of prospects AND for its trading partner to take on all of its ace's remaining salary for this season and next.
The Astros are going nowhere fast. Oswalt has made it no secret that he isn't happy there and that he wants to play in St. Louis. Is Houston really going to hold their star player hostage and eat $25 million over the next season and a half just to try to wring a couple more prospects out of the Cardinals?
The argument that Houston doesn't want to trade Oswalt within the division doesn't wash. What difference does that make? Do the rebuilding Astros really think that they're going to be a contender anytime in the next two or three years? The cupboard is bare in south Texas and they'd be much better off with guys that could help them four or five years from now than with Oswalt who will be 37 or 38 years old by then.
Houston has much more to lose by holding on to Oswalt than by dealing him to the Cardinals. Kyle Lohse is expected to go out on a rehab assignment this week, bolstering the team's rotation. Hopefully, following successful forearm surgery, Lohse will pitch more like he did in 2008 than he did earlier this season and he'll help to put some distance between St. Louis and the Reds.
While the Cardinals sounded pessimistic, the Astros said Monday that they're resigned to trading Oswalt. And it doesn't really matter if another team offers more than the Redbirds because the pitcher has a no-trade clause. If he's willing to dig his heals in and refuse a trade to another team -- and to renegotiate his contract -- Houston would have no choice but to send its star pitcher here. And Oswalt indicated last week that he is chomping at the bit for a chance to play with the Cardinals...
The Cardinals might be the best chance they have to get anything at all for Oswalt. The last few years there has been much more dealing after the non-waiver trade deadline than in the past. But Houston can bet that if it tries to put Oswalt through waivers that he'll be claimed. Then they'll have to pull him back and eat his paycheck for at least the rest of the year -- or they'll have to let him walk away to whomever claims him.