No-brainer for Phils, Oswalt

CHRIS RUDDICK, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 4:27 PM ET

It is hard to argue against the Philadelphia Phillies' acquisition of Houston righty Roy Oswalt, especially considering they received some money from the Astros and did not have to exercise his 2012 option.

In fact, it is an absolute no-brainer. I would give up prospects for a proven commodity every day and, unlike Anaheim plucking Dan Haren earlier in the week, this move does make the Phillies the favorites in not only the National League East, but the entire National League.

Plus they gave up nowhere near as much as the Angels had to surrender for Haren. J.A. Happ is not Joe Saunders and nobody Philly surrendered is as touted as Tyler Skaggs, who is going to be the player to be named later in that deal.

Oswalt would have been destroyed had he rejected this deal. I usually blow a gasket when players invoke their no-trade clauses rather than moving from a losing situation to a team in the playoff hunt. Derrek Lee just did it on Wednesday, turning down a deal to the Angels, but I can't get on him too much. He is as classy as they come, he loves playing for the Cubs and he already has a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins (2003).

Lee plays before a packed house at Wrigley Field every night, and while the Cubs aren't going to make the playoffs this year, they spend money and are always an offseason away from competing, particularly in a division that houses the likes of the Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Oswalt, on the other hand, would not have gotten a free pass. Houston has become baseball Siberia. It's clear that Philadelphia was not exactly his top choice, but pairing up with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels was too good a situation for him to turn down.

Would St. Louis have been a better fit for Oswalt? Probably. He seems like more of a St. Louis guy than a Philadelphian, and as a duo I would rather have Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright than Halladay and Hamels pitching with me, but whether Oswalt likes it or not, the Astros were going to explore every road that led them to a deal out of their own division. There is no way Houston GM Ed Wade wanted to face him five times a year.

Oswalt does lead the National League in losses, though the sabermetricians will tell you that wins and losses are not an accurate barometer for a pitcher's success. In this case, I have to agree. Oswalt has pitched to a 3.42 earned run average in 20 starts to go along with a 1.11 WHIP, and has held the opposition to a .229 batting average. Not to mention he has received a total of four runs of support in his last six starts.

Run support is not going to be a problem in Philadelphia. In case you haven't noticed, the Phils have cranked it up at the plate in the last week or so. Heading into action on Wednesday, Philadelphia has won seven straight and now sits just 3 1/2 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the division.

If there is anything that I have a problem with regarding the deal, it is that I don't necessarily think starting pitching was a problem for Charlie Manuel's club. It was the bats that put them in a hole. Now that the bats are coming alive again, the only real problem is the back-end bullpen, specifically closer Brad Lidge.

Lidge is an adventure every night. Lately he has been getting out of the jams he has put himself in, but I have no faith in him heading into the stretch run. And the problem is, there really are no other options from within. Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero are both competent, but seem to struggle when taken out of their current roles.

If Cole Hamels and Oswalt can follow Roy Halladay's lead and just throw nine innings every time out it won't be a problem, but we all know that is not going to happen. So either Lidge gets his act together soon, or this move amounts to very little come playoff time.

Of course, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the fact that the Phillies really wouldn't have had a need for a starting pitcher had Ruben Amaro just hung onto Cliff Lee this offseason.

I said at the time the move away from Lee made no sense. I would have non- tendered Joe Blanton and went for it with Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Worry about next year, next year.

Still, I respect Amaro for making this Oswalt move. It is not often that a general manager admits to making a mistake. And make no mistake, he is admitting he was wrong with this move.


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