Well, here we are. I've felt obligated for a number of days to write something about Roy Oswalt (or, hell, anything), and now that I finally have the available time with which I can do so, I'm not sure what to say. Nothing about this entire Texas-signs-Oswalt notion should be any more complicated on its surface than "Oswalt will only sign with the Rangers if he agrees to pitch on their terms," but somewhere along the way it turned into a grander, more complex, and -- in some ways -- uglier commentary on the makeup and expected performance of the pitching staff, the hard-to-read front office and its unclear motives, and ownership's present capacity for over-budget spending.
That's great and all, because the free exchange of information and ideas in an open forum for discussion benefits everyone ... but the reality of the matter is that we still don't know what is really going on here, and the unknown bugs us. We respect the reality that the front office has to operate in this covert manner in order to get the stuff done that it wants to get done, but nobody was ever gratified or had their curiosity sated by lying back and being patient. And if I'm not mistaken, the popular preference in Rangers fandom as of right now has Texas waving Oswalt through and away from their own turnstiles and out towards St. Louis, where his services would likely prove to be of somewhat greater utility.
Here's the thing that most of us get: Passing on Oswalt and his current high-seven-digit asking price seems like the reasonable thing for the Rangers to do, in the sense that his presence on the active roster may very well equate to a net downgrade in rotation talent/expected performance -- assuming, of course, that Matt Harrison is the one who gets punted to the bullpen for Oswalt's benefit. It seems reasonable because (a) Oswalt isn't a great bet to pitch any better in 2012 than Harrison, (b) Oswalt's back is probably contorting itself into some nightmarish approximation of a pretzel as we speak, (c) you have seven functional starting pitchers already on your payroll and don't seem to need an eighth, and (d) you don't need to commit presently available funds that may be needed later just because Oswalt's dangling out there for depth-bolstering purposes and because you have a fat wad of cash burning through your pocket.
Now, that all seems fairly reasonable -- but then you have to consider the possibility of any one starter being eliminated from the mix by injury/trade (and then any other injuries/ill performance that may trail that event), and ... hmm. You know what? I can't come up with too much more than that reason. And even then, it's not a particularly strong reason, because even though you're technically adding to your pitching depth by signing Oswalt, you're adding him on the front end of that depth in a relatively high-capacity role. If one or two of your other arms are lost to injury problems later, there's absolutely no assurance that Oswalt -- whom I wouldn't feel real great projecting beyond the 120- to 130-inning mark next year -- is still going to be available and effective at that point in time.
There is some thought that Oswalt could be part of a larger plan to rotate guys like Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland around as a means of buying the younger starters some extra rest, and I get all that as well ... but if you sign Oswalt, you're really only looking at two Opening Day starters who will likely need sporadic breathers (Holland and Feliz), and you have Harrison, Ogando, and Scott Feldman all waiting in reserve. That's verging deep into overkill territory even if you only have to pay Oswalt $2-3 million, so you can imagine what that means if you're talking about meeting an $8-10 million asking price. I can also imagine that you've thought of most of this stuff already, and that I could have said all of this in 650 fewer words by simply calling Oswalt "superfluous."
With that in mind, let me get in and then get back out with three more quick thoughts:
● Just to reiterate something I said a few days ago: I don't see an Oswalt signing as a prelude to a Harrison trade unless the Rangers are reasonably confident that they could go out and fetch a satisfactory, Rangers-friendly return for Harrison as of right now (meaning they've already undertaken much of the feeling-out process with other teams), and if they are "reasonably confident" they can do that, I suspect the front office will find some way to convince ownership that this is the way to go. If, however, they aren't confident they can do that ... well, would it really make sense for them sign Oswalt as part of a larger plan to trade Harrison, but not have a pretty good idea of what they would actually be getting for Harrison?
● Since yesterday's Oswalt/Rangers meeting transpired, I've seen one reference to the meeting as having gone "very well." Immediately after the Rangers met with Prince Fielder, we saw references to that meeting as having gone "extremely well," and we also saw just how far the Fielder/Rangers thing ultimately went. I literally can't think of anything less enlightening or more meaningless than somebody stating that one of these courtship meetings went "well." I presume that such a meeting going "not well" would be the equivalent of the meeting actually devolving into a profanity-laced screaming match and involving some form of fisticuffs or gunplay.
● I must also admit that I find the uproar caused by this Oswalt-to-Texas thing mildly amusing. There are those who believe this is evidentiary of a rift in the front office between a pro-Oswalt faction driven by Nolan Ryan and an anti-Oswalt faction led by Jon Daniels and his inner circle. There are those who, like most of us, can't quite put their finger on what the Rangers are doing here, but are severely lacking in confidence as far as the organization's ability to make the right decision. And then there are those who take it a step further and seem to be screaming "NOOOOOOO" at the top of their lungs out of their ample disdain for the Oswalt idea and their own irrational panic that Texas will screw up.
You know what? They could screw this up. They could make a wrong process-based decision (unlikely as that may seem), or they could sign Oswalt for all the right reasons and his back could implode after 30 innings. Nobody in this game is infallible or impervious to making the wrong call. But I'm kind of done with trying to figure out how the Rangers are going to arrange their chess pieces on this one, and, for the moment at least, I'm absolutely done with worrying about whether the front office that constructed the still-defending American League champions is going to make the right or wrong call.
If you're going to worry, at least wait to do so until something actually happens.