Steve Phillips: Trade Stephen Strasburg for Roy Oswalt
You can’t really expect much out of the brain of baseball “analyst” Steve Phillips, but he made a doozy of a trade suggestion Monday on WFAN. He actually suggested that the Washington Nationals should trade phenom Stephen Strasburg for Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt.
It was such a ridiculous idea that when I heard about it, I had to make sure that I waited to listen to the broadcast with my own ears. Because I couldn’t believe that even Phillips would come up with such a dopey trade idea.
But yes, he went there. Here’s what he told WFAN’s Mike Francesa:
“Here’s the thing. If I’m the Astros, I’m saying Washington Nationals, sure, Oswalt, I think he’d fit great for you. I’ll take Strasburg, and then I’ll take….”
I don’t know which part of this suggestion is more ridiculous – the Astros having the audacity to ask for Strasburg, the best prospect in the game right now, or Phillips’ “and then I’ll take…” suggestion. Because geez, 32-year-old pitchers with declining numbers and a history of health issues who are owed $33 million over the next two years don’t exactly grow on trees.
Even WFAN host Mike Francesa was incredulous over Phillips’ suggestion, saying “never” to the idea. But the former GM didn’t stop there, asking Francesa, “Do you think that Strasburg is going to be Roy Oswalt in his career?”
The host said yes, to which Phillips said, “I don’t know that. And even if he is, if I think that I want Roy Oswalt to help me win this year, you know what? I’m one of the guys, I make that deal.”
“You can’t give up Strasburg,” Francesa responded. Phillips disagreed, saying, “Absolutely.” What the heck?
It’s funny – Phillips wrote a piece for AOL Fanhouse a few weeks back whining to fans about how hard it is to be a GM. And I guess it is, if you have to resist the siren call of Roy Oswalt over having the top young pitcher in the game under your control for the next six years!
And since when are the Washington Nationals in a “win-now” mode? They have a good young team, with lots of hope for the future. They’re playing over .500 right now, and they might have a chance at a wild card spot this year. I said “might,” not will.
So why would a team that has the best prospect in the game, somebody Curt Schilling has said will “immediately potentially be the best pitcher in the game” whenever he makes it to the majors, trade him for a pitcher turning 33 this summer who costs over $15 million a year?
Why? Because Phillips, unlike pretty much every other person in baseball, doesn’t think Strasburg is all that, despite the pitcher throwing upwards of 100 miles an hour, and despite his 6-1, 0.99 ERA, with an incredible .706 WHIP, in the minors so far. He told Francesa:
“I mean, listen, he was a good college pitcher, he’s a good minor league pitcher so far. But if I can get one of the top, what, top 5 starting pitchers in the game today for Strasburg? Because I really, truly, I hope that he could be that guy. I have to tell you, I don’t know that he could be that guy. And with his delivery, I could see the potential of a Mark Prior sort of a breakdown.”
There’s so much wrong with this, I don’t know where to begin:
1. Since when is Oswalt a Top 5 starter these days? Unless he’s pitching under the name Tim Lincecum or CC Sabathia, he’s not. It isn’t 2004 anymore, Steve. Oswalt is 2-6 this season, with a 2.66 ERA, and a 1.066 WHIP. Good numbers, to be sure – he’s 10th in the majors in strikeouts, 15th in ERA, and 12th in WHIP – but not worthy of a prospect like Strasburg.
2. If your goal is to win now, why wouldn’t you just take your chances with bringing up Strasburg? Even if you think that the phenom could have “a Mark Prior sort of a breakdown” – and Phillips is the first person I have heard suggest that – Prior did get in a few great years before breaking down.
3. The Nationals have a 2010 payroll of just $66 million. Why would they trade for a budget-busting contract like Oswalt’s?
4. Washington currently draws just 20,000 a game, and even those low numbers were boosted by fans of teams like the Philadelphia Phillies showing up at their ballpark, like they did for Opening Day. Strasburg coming up to the majors would immediately boost those numbers – big time. Heck, fans are already buying tickets for the Nats’ June 4 game, just based on the rumor that he might make his MLB debut on that date. Don’t think Roy Oswalt is going to put fannies in the seats in quite the same way.
5. Why would Oswalt, who has expressed interest in being traded to a contender, want to go to the Nationals, anyway?
6. Even if the Nationals thought Phillips’ idea was the bees’ knees, the Sporting News points out that MLB rules “prohibit clubs from trading draft picks until 12 months after they signed.” Strasburg signed in August 2009, which would mean he couldn’t be traded until August 2010, after the MLB trading deadline is over. Gee, you’d think a former GM would know about that rule!
We know that Phillips has come up with a whole heap of dumb ideas and worse judgment, like sleeping around in the workplace with women like Brooke Hundley. After all, this is the GM who once tried to trade David Wright for Jose Cruz. Jr. He also attempted to include Jose Reyes in the Roberto Alomar trade. Oh, and he did actually trade for Mo Vaughn.
But his Strasburg-for-Oswalt idea might be the single dumbest idea that I’ve ever heard on sports radio. And that includes my time listening to Wally Matthews and Stephen A. Smith!
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