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Oswalt update

To synthasize several reports about the Roy Oswalt rumors:

The Cardinals are apparently demanding that the Astros pick up a significant portion of Oswalt's remaining contract in order to complete a deal for the ace pitcher. Meanwhile Houston is making high demands in the form of the players it wants in return.

It could all be posturing. Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said last week on the radio that the team is more willing to take on a salary dump than it is to sell the farm. Simply put: the more money the Redbirds take on, the less value they are willing to give back in the form of prospects.

While there is speculation that the Cardinals couldn't afford Oswalt, remember that the club expected to pay Brad Penny $9 million this year that will almost certainly disappear in 2011. That's more than half of Oswalt's paycheck. They could make up the rest if they replace Ryan Ludwick's escalating paycheck with pitching. It just depends on which way they want to spend their budget. And, while it looks like Albert Pujols is going to get at least a $10-million raise, I still believe the Cardinals could simply raise their payroll $10 million a year and STILL make money. The Cardinals are on the hook for slightly more than $90 million, not including deferrals, this year while the Cubs and Phillies are spending in the $140 million range. $100-$110 million really doesn't seem to at all out of line.

Houston, meanwhile, is publicly turning its nose up at top St. Louis pitching prospect Shelby Miller, saying he isn't worthy of being the centerpiece of the swap. But the Astros beat writer from the Houston Chronicle said on the Bernie Miklasz show on 101.5 radio that owner Drayton McLane "was devistated" when the Cardinals drafted the Texas native hurler with the 98 mile an hour fastball before Houston could take him.

The writer also said that Oswalt wants to join the Cardinals so much that he would "walk to St. Louis" to play here. If Oswalt is committed to come to St. Louis, it could make all the difference.

Houston can drive as hard of a bargain as it wants. But the bottom line is that, if it wants to trade Oswalt, the ace pitcher is going to have the final say where he goes thanks to his no-trade clause. Ultimately, Houston could decide not to trade Oswalt at all. But I think he's already gone in his mind and it's going to be a problem if the team thinks it can condemn him to playing out his career on a second division team.