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Could the Cardinals still land Oswalt?

Roy Oswalt seems, at least on paper, to be too expensive for the Cardinals in terms of both cash and prospects.

Houston wants a boatload of prospects for its ace. And Oswalt's on the hook for $7.5 million for the rest of this season and $16 million for 2011. But there is still a possibility that he could end up pitching for St. Louis: His no-trade clause.

The Astros have reportedly had discussions with both the Tigers and the White Sox about Oswalt and the hurler has refused to consider playing for either of them. The Rangers would have liked to have Oswalt. But the complications with the sale of the team prevented Texas from completing a deal. Bottom line, as Oswalt's possible destinations are scratched off the list, Houston may have to lessen its demands and up the amount of cash it's willing to kick in for the pitcher.

The Twins are known to still be interested. But I would be surprised if Oswalt is unwilling to play in two other American League Central cities but will accept a deal to Minnesota. The biggest threat is the fact that the Yankees showed they were ready to deal for Cliff Lee -- but at the last minute lost Lee to the Rangers.

The Yankees and Cardinals have been reported to be the two teams Oswalt would prefer to play for. And the Astros would probably like to trade their ace out of the division if possible. But if Oswalt really wants to pitch for the Cardinals, he could probably force Houston's hand.

It makes no sense for the Astros to keep paying him big bucks to try to beat out the Pirates for fifth place in a rebuilding period. It would be tough for the Cardinals to pay Oswalt. But they'll save $7.5 million next season on Penny ($9 million if you include the incentives Penny won't reach.) If Houston kicks in 25 percent of Oswalt's pay check, the numbers wouldn't be that out of whack. Meanwhile, Allen Craig could make a nice replacement at first bace for Lance Berkman in 2011 and a young pitcher or two could help to get the job done.

Oswalt is 6-10 this season for a crummy Astros team. But he's got a nice 3.08 ERA has allowed only 93 hits in 120 innings pitched. He's struck out 112 and walked 33 and he has the best walks and hits per innings pitched ratio of his career: 1.050:1.