In a season where almost everything's (already) gone wrong, Roy Oswalt keeps proving he's still one of the few rights. Oswalt pushed the Houston Astros to their second victory today, holding one of the more dangerous teams in the National League scoreless for seven innings, striking out six and walking none in the Chicago Cubs' tiny windbox of a Major League park.
He almost looked like the Roy of 2005. Which is way Oswalt is inching ever closer to the door.
Astro fans had better enjoy Oswalt's next several starts at Minute Maid Park, because there's a real possibility that the Roy era in Houston could end before Major League Baseball's trade deadline. And the better Oswalt pitches, the more likely he'll be throwing elsewhere. Those concerns about Oswalt's back (the nagging injury that ended his season last year) are grower weaker and weaker. His velocity is back.
Oswalt was throwing in the mid 90s even on opening night when many thought the effects of his injury-shortened spring training would show. He's regained his control in the last two starts. On any other team, he'd be 2-1 rather than 1-2. Heck, these now 2-9 Astros did their best to try to blow Oswalt's W today. (Tommy Manzella isn't exactly winning any good hands awards.)
That type of stuff is only going to grate on one of Houston sports' great competitors. Oswalt would have to approve any deal and he won't waive his no-trade clause for just any team. But a friend of Oswalt's recently told ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark that the right hander's talked about pitching in Atlanta, St. Louis or in the Arlington (for the Rangers) if it ever came to leaving the Astros. Stark is already also mentioning the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Angels of Anaheim (still the stupidest name in sports!) as additional possibilities.
With today's win, the 32-year-old Oswalt is only seven wins away from becoming the Astros' all-time wins leader. But when you're throwing for a 2-9 team, seven wins looks like 22. Would you rather have a chance at competing for a World Series (and St. Louis, both the LA teams and maybe Atlanta would give Roy that opportunity) or struggle to reach a rather meaningless club milestone?
What do you think Astros fans? Would the franchise be better off dealing Roy for some talent that could help when the chances of winning are less remote than the odds of an asteroid slamming into the earth?
Or would it just hurt too much to see Roy in another uniform?