It seems that Phillies starter Roy Oswalt is pondering the possibility that his career is over due to the back problems that caused him to exit early Thursday against the Cardinals.
In general, I hate to see such a good performer potentially call it a career at the relatively young age of 33.
But, more specifically, I held some hope that Oswalt might end up inside a Cardinals jersey in 2012.
Oswalt tried to get the Astros to trade him to St. Louis in 2010 but ended up with Philadelphia instead. He has a $16 million option for 2010 with a $2 million buyout. But it's very possible the Phillies, who are on baseball's financial watch list, might let him walk.
If he came to St. Louis, it would have to be at a greatly reduced price. And it would be a tough fit because, while the Cardinals don't have a lot of orginational depth in the category of starting pitching, they do have five established major league starters.
The obvious opening would come if the Cardinals couldn't renegotiate a contract with Chris Carpenter who has a $15-million option for 2012. But, even if Carp is allowed to walk away, the Redbirds are almost certain to pick up Adam Wainwright's two-year option for 2012-13.
The Cardinals could try to trade of Jake Westbrook of Kyle Lohse who will be entering the last year of their contracts with the club. But, while I can take or leave Westbrook because I view him as the prototypical "average major league starter," I'd hate to give up Lohse who has been pretty good after getting his health back.
Maybe the answer is to send Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen. I know manager Tony La Russa is lothe to go back to on a decision. And he's loyal to his players to a fault. But what if McClellan was asked to move to the bullpen to be the closer?
The plus about adding Oswalt is two-fold. First, he is a winner. He's a leader and a guy who not only knows what it takes to get to the top -- but he'd dedicated to do what it takes to get there. Second, his old Houston buddy Lance Berkman might be convinced to take less money than he could get on the market to leave if he was convinced the Cardinals were all in on trying to win a championship in 2012. Plus, it would be nice to see the Cardinals have the same sort of all-star rotation in 2012 that the Phillies boast this season.
I still believe with some creative financing that the Cardinals could afford to keep Albert Pujols AND Lance Berkman. Of course, Berkman will have to agree to say somewhere in the vicinity of his current $8 million a year salary. But If Pujols gets a $10 million a year raise to $26 million, you could more than make that difference up by letting Carpenter go and filling his slot at the top of the rotation with Adam Wainwright.
There is also the possibility of backloading multi-year deals to better fit with the reality that Loshe and Westbrook will free up about $20 million when they become free agents after the 2012 season.
Hopefully Oswalt is just frustrated by his recurring back issues. It's not unusual for a player to say he's thinking about quitting right after he suffers a health setback.