Where will Oswalt go? Not even he knows.
There are two times of the year that baseball beat reporters looks forward to the least: the Winter Meetings, and the couple of weeks leading up to the non-waiver trading deadline.
The Winter Meetings are probably the least painful of the two, only because they’re quicker. You arrive on Sunday, you leave on Thursday and with the exception of the few who cover the more proactive teams, you usually hang around the lobby all day only to be told by your general manager at the end: “We didn’t make any moves.” It’s mind-numbingly boring, but it goes pretty quickly.
The trade deadline is far more excruciating, because it drags on and on and on, and if you happen to cover one of the teams that is looking to deal a prized player, you have to wade through the daily reports, sift through the rumor mill and separate fact from fiction in order to get to something that resembles the truth. There are accurate reports out there, of course, but also a handful more that are some variation of false, or exaggerated, or, some cases, greatly understated.
I’m fairly certain those covering the Astros beat will be glad when Aug. 1 arrives. The trade deadline is Saturday (July 31) at 3 p.m. CT, and most likely, the Roy Oswalt saga won’t end long before then.
If you believe everything that’s being reported out there, Oswalt:
1. Will not approve the trade unless the team he’s going to picks up his $16 million club option for ’12;
2. Is willing to restructure the contract to make that $16 million club option for ’12 a more reasonable undertaking for the new club by deferring money;
3. Will not let the $16 million club option stand in the way of being traded and is OK with the club not picking up the option;
4. Won’t approve a trade to the Phillies;
5. Will approve a trade to the Phillies;
6. Won’t approve a trade to anyone but the Cardinals;
7. Will go to any team that he deems a sure-fire World Series contender;
8. Will only accept a trade if the new team has Evian water, yellow M&Ms, seedless red grapes and umbrella drinks waiting at his locker on days he pitches*;
9. Won’t go to either New York team because the Big Apple is a little too much for this southern down-home guy;
10. Would prefer the Yankees to anyone but probably won’t end up there because the Yankees aren’t interested;
11. Isn’t going to be traded anywhere, because the Astros’ demands are too high.
(*Kidding on No. 8. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)
I have said from the beginning that I’m not buying the ’12 option being a deal-breaker. If he wants out as badly as we think he does, would he honestly say no just because the new team won’t commit to picking up an option for a season he may or may not pitch (he’s long maintained he’d like to hang it up after ’11)?
To me, the biggest hurdle as we near the non-waiver finish line is the need to get Oswalt’s approval before a trade can be made. We’ve referred back to the Randy Johnson trade in ’98 a lot lately for obvious reasons, but there are glaring differences — mainly, that Johnson did not have a no-trade clause and therefore did not need to be consulted before the deal was made. The Mariners were in the middle of a game and someone came over to him in the dugout, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “you’re going to Houston.”
The trade deadline this year is three hours before gametime, so it’s not as if Oswalt will have to be pulled from the dugout for a consultation. But if the Astros take this down to the wire and make an 11th hour deal, that might not give Oswalt any time to think it over. Will he need time to ponder? Who knows. But it’ll be interesting to see how this ends, and given all of the moving parts involved, it wouldn’t shock me if Oswalt was still here on Aug. 1.
The Astros held their annual Family Day on Sunday before the finale with the Reds, a session I call “An Hour of Chaos” — the good kind of chaos, where little kids are given free reign of the field. (Although I’m assuming Family Day isn’t such a happy day for the grounds crew.)
Family Day is pretty simple: players families come to the ballpark early and the kids run around the field for an hour, play whiffle ball, run the bases and pose for family pictures. Junction Jack, not surprisingly, is a pretty popular guy at this event.
Some images from the event:
Bryson Bourn hangs out with Bud Norris before heading out for family day.
The Blum girls — Mia, Ava, Audrey and Kayla, are fired up to see Junction Jack.
The Michaels family: Jason, Pamela and Payton.
Carlos Lee was having a nice family moment with his wife and kids…
…and then one of his sons started pounding him with an inflatable baseball bat.
The littlest Puma, Abigail Berkman, makes her Minute Maid Park debut.
First base coach Bobby Meacham and his granddaughter.
Brett Myers pitches to his son.
Oswalt hangs out with his daughters.
Berkman and his daughter, Carly.
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