The Philadelphia Phillies need a starting pitcher.
How badly they need one depends on who you ask, and when. A few weeks ago, Brett Myers was rolling and Cole Hamels appeared to be returning to form, while Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton were floundering. Now, Moyer is coming off three solid-to-good starts, Blanton is rolling and Myers is out for the season with a hip injury. Meanwhile, J.A. Happ has locked down the no. 5 spot in the rotation, a change most fans clamored for the day Chan Ho Park was announced as the original fifth starter.
To put it simply, starting pitching, a strength when the games started to matter last year, has turned into a question mark. Hamels has yet to dominate, Happ is too young to be considered a known quantity and the other two have already had truly horrific stretches. Meanwhile, the team will most likely turn to names like Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Carrasco and perhaps even Kyle Kendrick in an attempt to catch that elusive "Kendrick in 2007"-esque lightning in a bottle once more.
In all likelihood, though, that won't work. What will work is a trade for a co-ace, and I can't recall a better time in the last decade to go ace shopping. Names like Erik Bedard, Jake Peavy, Roy Halladay and Brandon Webb are rumored to be available; acquiring a pitcher like that would not only make up for the loss of Myers, it would instantly elevate the team to "favorite" status.
But can we bring on one of these pitchers? Just because they're rumored to be available doesn't mean you can have them for a song. In all likelihood, getting one would require the rape and pillage of our farm system, including a few of our top, borderline-untouchable prospects like outfielder Dominic Brown and pitcher Kyle Drabek. This is not always the best way to go; however, when you look at how the Phillies positioned themselves this offseason, it's practically a no-brainer. It's time for the Phillies to go all-in.
The Phillies have basically locked up everyone that matters until 2011. That means this core will have three more years to win another World Series, including this one. Three more years where they'll most likely make money hand over fist, three more years with several of the top players in all of baseball, and three more years to show that 2008 was not a fluke. When you put a team together with this in mind, it's practically criminal if you don't explore any and every avenue to success.
So it's time to invite all of Major League Baseball to Reading, to Lakewood, to the Lehigh Valley. It's time to showcase Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Vance Worley. And in my opinion, it's time to go, hard, after Roy Oswalt.
Out of all the starting pitching possibilities, Roy Oswalt would be the best Phillie. Webb has been out for most of the season; he'd be a big-time risk. Peavy has already proven himself to be a bit of a whiner, possibly because he knows pitching in Petco Park is a starter's dream come true. Halladay is almost perfection personified, but he would probably require three premiere prospects AND Shane Victorino/Jayson Werth. Perfection doesn't come cheap. And Bedard, while talented and only under contract for the remaining 2009 season, is a walking calamity. No sooner would we trade for him than his arm would fall off, Freddy Garcia-style.
No - the play has to be for Oswalt. Everything I've read about him indicates a hard-working, down-to-earth player who rides a tractor in the offseason. He seems to have the grit and determination necessary to succeed in Philadelphia, and if he has any questions about his future home, former teammates Eric Bruntlett and Brad Lidge are only a phone call away.
Oswalt's contract goes through the 2011 season - exactly when our "window" looks like it'll close. Will he cost an arm and a leg? Yes - he's due to make $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. But the Phillies have been selling out every game, riding high on their World Series victory, and they still have enough ammunition to make another deep run. Oswalt would set the city on fire again, making another playoff run seem like a lock, and only endear the franchise to its fans even more. Rube, I think's a no-brainer. We like Roy, and we want him in Philadelphia.