Well, it’s official — Roy Oswalt is going to the Phillies for J.A. Happ and a couple of prospects. And my question is this — how could the Mets let that happen?
Now, I know what you’re saying — how could the Mets stop it? Well, the Yankees seem to be able to stop their opponents from getting players. Cecil Fielder, Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira to name a few. Why do the Mets always sit by impotently and watch their rivals get better?
I don’t know if the Mets were ever in on Oswalt. They certainly can’t use money as a reason. According to reports, the Astros will pay $11 million of the $23 million Oswalt is owed through next season. And Oswalt didn’t demand that his $16 million option be picked up for 2012 in order to waive his no trade clause. So the Phillies get Oswalt for a season and a third for $12 million (plus a $2 million buyout if the 2012 option is not picked up). That’s a bargain for a front-line starter.
Over the course of a year, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been able to trade for three of the best pitchers in the game — Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. He traded Lee away in the off-season amid much criticism, knowing full well the Phillies were not going to be able to afford the $100+ million mega contract Lee will demand on the free agent market this winter. But he made up for it now by getting Oswalt, who is just as good as Lee, but costs much, much less.
This just points to the inadequacy of Omar Minaya. Minaya is good at throwing money at big free agents, and he did a remarkable job of picking up such unwanted guys as R.A. Dickey and Rod Barajas this past off-season. But when it comes to making big, team-altering trades, Minaya is not up to the task. Yes, obtaining Johan Santana for next to nothing was a stroke of patience and brilliance. The Carlos Delgado was a good one, too. But that’s pretty much it. Creative thinking is not one of Minaya’s few strengths.
As I said, I have no idea if the Mets were ever serious about Oswalt. Based on the deal with the Phillies, it is safe to assume the Astros wanted a young, major league-ready pitcher such as Mike Pelfrey or Jonathon Niese to headline any trade. If that is the case, it was probably wise for Minaya to stand pat. Although, in a best case scenario, Pelfrey and Niese will turn out to be as good as Oswalt. So why take a chance that they will not be as good, and why not trade either one for the real thing? Age and health have a lot to do with it, I’m sure.
If the Astros would have taken Jenrry Mejia, then the Mets were stupid not to pull the trigger. Mejia looks great, and he pitched reasonably well out of the bullpen this season before being sent down to be a starter, but he has yet to prove he can make it as a major league starter. Pelfrey and Niese have, which is why the Mets were smart not to give them up. But of course, these reasons are why the Astros probably didn’t want Mejia as the main guy in the trade.
But all of this is just a bunch of words. The end result is that Philadelphia now has the best one-two punch in the game, a distinction that could have been designated in Flushing.