The only thing that may be more exciting for Phillies fans than the team acquiring Roy Oswalt from the Astros is how many puns the Daily News will use now that they have two Roy’s in the rotation.
The Phillies swapped Oswalt for left-hander J.A. Happ and two prospects, outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was also able to finagle $11 million from Houston to pay for almost half of the $23 million Oswalt is owed for the remainder of this season and next season.
If you can find something wrong with this deal for the Phillies, you’re digging a little too deep. While J.A Happ was spectacular last year in his rookie season while helping the Phils reach the World Series for the second straight season, it was always hard to view him as anything more than a number 3 pitcher in any rotation. His drop in velocity after his recent forearm injury was also cause for concern, and he’s always had control issues, even during last season. J.A. Happ seems like a great guy, and the Phillies’ nation will wish him well in Houston, but the fear was always that he was a flash in the pan.
Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar are two mid-tier prospects who project to play outfield and shortstop/infield, respectively. Pay close attention to the two words ‘prospects’ and ‘project’ in the last sentence. We can all ‘project’ all we want about ‘prospects,’ but the fact remains that they are both 19 year old kids who look like they can play.
You don’t have to project the 143 career wins with a career 3.24 ERA that Oswalt has amassed during his career in Houston, because those are facts. And another fact is that the Phillies are a much better team THIS YEAR than they were yesterday. And they will only get better with the return of Chase Utley and Shane Victorino when they return from the disabled list. As it stands now, the starting rotation is Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Kyle Kendrick. That’s two legit aces and one guy who is a borderline #1/2 in Cole Hamels. Throw in Blanton who can suffice as a #4 and Kendrick who is a classic #5, the Phillies have arguably the best rotation in the National League.
What is hard to understand is all of the ‘fans’ who complained when they traded away Cliff Lee during the offseason because the Phillies have a chance to build a potential dynasty and dominate the National League for the next 2-3 years. Now that that wish has been granted, the same ‘fans’ are complaining that the Phillies are draining the farm system. This is even after Amaro somehow convinced Astros’ GM Ed Wade to agree to this trade without including Phillies’ top hitting prospect Jonathan Singleton, who’s been compared to an 18 year old Manny Ramirez.
With the Phillies winning tonight in extra innings, completing the sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the lead in the division stands at 2.5 games for the Atlanta Braves, who lost again to the Nationals earlier this afternoon. It’s hard to imagine after trading for Oswalt that the Phillies don’t overtake Atlanta for first place in the NL East by mid to late August at the latest, and end up cruising to another October playoff run.
Roy oh Roy, the Delaware Valley is in for an exciting August and September! And if all goes as it looks now, a spectacular late October as well.