Roy Oswalt was almost a Met at the trade deadline in 2006. The Mets were thisclose to getting Oswalt in a three team deal with the Astros and Orioles. Houston would have ended up with Miguel Tejada, and the Mets would have “sacrificed” to Baltimore — get ready for it — Lastings Milledge. Yes, Roy Oswalt for Lastings Milledge. It would have been the greatest deal general manager Jim Duquette ever made to help the Mets — and he was the Orioles VP of baseball operations at the time! However at the last minute Baltimore owner Peter Angelos, the king of poor decisions, actually made a good one and scuttled the deal.
Fast forward five and a half years and the free agent Oswalt has let it be known that he would sign a one-year contract. That contract should come from the Mets. It won’t, but there are several reasons why he should be finally pitching in Flushing in 2012.
— There is no guarantee that Johan Santana will be effective next season, if he can even pitch at all. The great “Mike Pelfrey is Our Ace” experiment failed miserably. Every team needs an ace — Oswalt would fit that bill just fine.
— If the Mets could get Oswalt for $10 million-$12 million (which is looking more and more possible), that would still put the payroll at around that magical $100 million mark. I’m sure the Wilpons would prefer it to be closer to $90 million, but a $100 million payroll still saves them $40 million over last season. It also shows what a dumb idea it was to tender Mike Pelfrey, who will likely command around $6 million. Wouldn’t you rather have Oswalt for an additional $4 million to $6 million rather than Pelfrey?
— If everything goes as planned, the Mets could theoretically be a starter away from contention (I stress the word “theoretically”). The bullpen is revamped. The offense should be better with the more reasonable Citi Field dimensions and players coming back from injury. The rotation remains a weak spot, and Oswalt can strengthen it.
— Perhaps most importantly, an Oswalt signing would send a message to the fans that the front office has not given up on 2012. Except for making the bullpen better, Sandy Alderson has given no indication that he thinks this team will be in contention in 2012. Signing Oswalt would remedy that. He could say, “See, I strengthened the bullpen, we have faith in the lineup, we made the ballpark smaller. And now we have a solid rotation. We will contend.” And if they don’t contend and Oswalt is effective, Alderson can trade him for a prospect, a la Carlos Beltran.
Of course, none of this will happen. The Wilpons will just not spend the money and give the team the chance to succeed. It is very sad, indeed.