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Rumor Mill: Oswalt deal off

A bankruptcy judge has likely shot down any hopes the Rangers had of landing star pitcher Roy Oswalt in a trade with the Astros.

The judge decided that Rangers owner Tom Hicks must pay off his debts related to the baseball team before he can separate it from the bankruptcy filing of his sports management business. That means, essentially, that there will be no fast and painless completion of the sale of the team to a group led by former Rangers and Astros hurler Nolan Ryan.

Oswalt asked to be traded earlier this year. Texas and Houston reportedly had agreed on the players who would have been involved in an Oswalt swap. So, if the judge would have ruled in Hicks' favor, the deal may have been quickly completed.

The Cardinals have an obvious need for pitching with a pair of starters on the disabled list. Brad Penny may be back in the next couple of weeks or so. But Kyle Lohse could miss nearly all of the rest of the season -- if he's lucky. Oswalt listed St. Louis as one of the teams he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for. But the Cardinals probably couldn't afford a deal either in terms of paying the rest of Oswalt's contract or in prospects that they would have to send to Houston to get a deal done..