Oswalt has had a terrific career. But as one scout said, "He wasn't great last year.'' He was, in fact, 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA, and that was in the National League. He allowed 153 hits in 139 innings.
A switch, at age 34, to the American League, seems like a gamble at best. It's nice that he'll be near home and with his buddy Ryan, who understandably has a hold over a lot of pitchers.
After all these months, Oswalt made a call to go to a great team in a desired location run by a friend. But I have to wonder whether he would have been better off going back to the Phillies, who treated him great, or even the Dodgers or Cardinals.
The location was important to Oswalt. But the new location in the American League may prove to be a risky spot for a talented pitcher on the downside.
No, he wasn't great last year. But you don't have to be great to be worth $5 million over the course of three months (or four, if you think the Rangers have a good shot at the World Series). He did allow 153 hits in 139 innings, but that's partially because he gave up a .321 batting average on balls in play; his career mark is .301, and he's likely to come in around that mark this season.
Oswalt missed July last season, for various reasons. After returning to the Phillies' rotation, he struck out three times more batters than he walked, and gave up only four home runs in 68 innings. He wasn't great, but he was real good. And real good is worth $5 million.
Of course, there's no guarantee that Oswalt will be real good this year. Presumably the Rangers took a good look, and their doctors took a good look, and if he's healthy there's no reason to think he won't be good. Or even real good.
Yes, maybe he wouldn't have better off with the Phillies, or the Dodgers or the Cardinals. But if he didn't want to pitch for those teams, how well would he have pitched for them?