Cardinals Seem To Be Out Of The Oswalt Sweepstakes

Oh, how things can change. This time last week it sounded as if the Cardinals were going to trade for yet another ace, Roy Oswalt. Now, however, the Cards have seemingly dropped out of the race.

The chances of the Cardinals landing Oswalt seemed to be very high last week when Oswalt stated that he would be willing to work around the demanded $16 million option for 2012 with, and only with, the Cardinals. He went as far as to say that he “preferred” to be traded to St. Louis. Unfortunately, it appears the bullheadedness of both teams involved turned this into a stand-off that now seems to be dead.

There are two main reasons why this did not, and likely will not, go through.

1) The Cardinals absolutely do not want to lose Shelby Miller. The club believes this kid is the real deal, and I’m not going to argue with them. The 18-year-old flamethrower is currently in Single-A Quad Cities where he has a 4-4 record on the season with a 3.63 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings pitched. What is truly astounding is that Miller is doing all of that without his MLB-ready, high-90’s-with-movement fastball. He has spent the season refining his secondary pitches and, because of this, he rarely throws his fastball during games. After trading away last year’s top prospect Brett Wallace, I can’t blame the Redbirds for being hesitant on getting rid of another elite, young player.

2) The Astros absolutely do not want to trade within the division. This kind of makes me scratch my head though. I’m not sure why Drayton McLane is reluctant to trade within the division considering the Astros are at least 4-5 years out of contention. By that time, you would think that Oswalt would either be on a different team or far beyond his prime. There’s only a year and a half left on Oswalt’s contract, he’s 32-years-old, and the rebuilding Astros are worried about trading him within the division? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Of course I am biased, and of course I would love to see a Wainwright-Carpenter-Oswalt-Garcia four-man rotation, but am I the only one who thinks the Astros are being a little stingy in this situation? For starters, I strongly believe that if Oswalt isn’t going to be a Cardinal, he’s not going anywhere. Don’t forget that the only team he is willing to negotiate that 2012 option with is the Cardinals. With that in mind, if I were the GM of the Astros, I would gladly trade Oswalt for either Jon Jay or Allen Craig, plus another Major Leaguer and prospects. Here’s the ultimate reason why: They would save $24,000,000. Not to mention, if they are rebuilding the team and Oswalt wants out of town immediately, why would they even want him hanging around there? Why not trade him now for MLB-ready prospects (Jay or Craig), Brendan Ryan, another mid-level prospect, and save $24 mil? Beats me.

Knowing that the Oswalt deal looks unlikely, and knowing that John Mozeliak is very interested in adding a starting pitcher, who is left out there that the Cardinals are even faintly interested in?

Jake Westbrook, Cleveland Indians

  • The Cardinals have shown interest in him not only this season, but in seasons past.

  • Cleveland is in total rebuilding-mode and has traded some of their best players in each of the past three seasons (C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez).

  • It has been reported that the Indians would trade Westbrook in a minute if offered a mid-level prospect (a Daryl Jones-type?) and if the team would pick up his salary ($11 million for 2010).

  • The thing I love about Westbrook is he keeps it in the yard. He’s a groundball pitcher. He won’t overpower hitters, but he will get them out.

  • 2010 stats: 6-7, 4.65 ERA, 73 SO, 127 2/3 IP
Dave Bush, Milwaukee Brewers
  • There haven’t been any reports but it is my understanding that he is on the trading block and there has been speculation that the Cardinals are interested.

  • It would be another same-division trade, but since he’s not an ace like Oswalt, I don’t think that would be too much of a factor.

  • He is a pitch-to-contact pitcher, so we know that Dave Duncan would love to work with him.

  • Bush actually has more quality starts this season than Dan Haren (just traded to the Angels) and Ted Lilly (probably the best pitcher on the market besides Oswalt).

  • The Cardinals fourth and fifth starters (Suppan and Hawksworth) have combined for two quality starts this season.

  • 2010 stats: 5-8, 4.27 ERA, 66 SO, 111 2/3 IP
Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles
  • The Cardinals are looking for an “innings eater” and Guthrie is the classic innings eater. He is very durable, which is what we need at this point.

  • He has great control and is very efficient.

  • Like Bush, there haven’t been any serious rumors, but it has been speculated that the Cardinals are one of the few teams interested.

  • According to multiple reports, Guthrie is definitely on the trading block, but Baltimore is asking for a significant return.

  • 2010 stats: 4-10, 4.46 ERA, 69 SO, 125 IP
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians
  • This is my favorite out of all that have been mentioned, and easily the most interesting.

  • He went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 2007. Since then, he has shown only bits and pieces of that kind of success.

  • When he’s right, Carmona has some of the best, pure “stuff” in the game. Sometimes he has a hard time knowing exactly how to use it.

  • Dave Duncan is certainly the guy Carmona wants to teach him how to use his talents in the most efficient way.

  • The thing Carmona has that none of the above pitchers don’t is youth. Carmona is only 26 and was considered a top prospect only a few years ago.

  • Cleveland has said that they are willing to part ways with Westbrook OR Carmona, but would only trade one or the other and it would need to be a “compelling” package for them to bite.

  • 2010 stats: 10-7, 3.51 ERA, 71 SO, 128 1/3 IP

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for and his blog, Cardinals Front Office, that is also dedicated to Cardinal baseball. You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.

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