According to Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies finally (phinally?) snared Roy Oswalt, agreeing with the Astros on a package of players in compensation and making some concessions to Oswalt to convince him to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. The deal sends J.A. Happ and two prospects to the Astros, who also send a reported $11 million to the Astros to cover part of the remaining value of Oswalt's deal. Contrary to earlier reports, the Phillies are not exercising Oswalt's 2012 option worth $16 million, but have reportedly agreed to increase the buyout of his option to $3 million which brings the total guaranteed compensation owed to Oswalt for the remainder of his contract is $24 million, of which Houston will pay $11 million.
Happ is the most useful immediate piece for the Astros. The prospects also on their way to the Astros organization are shortstop Jonathan Villar and outfielder Anthony Gose. Both are considered toolsy players. Villar has definite fielding concerns with an abundance of errors (42) in 99 games at shortstop in single A Lakewood of the Sally League. Gose is very raw but with good coaching and development of his tools has the potential to develop into a solid player.
Oswalt has bounced back from a less than stellar 2009 campaign. In twenty starts with the Astros, he has posted the best hit rate of his career (7.6 H/9 IP) and the best strikeout rate since his rookie season (8.4 K/9 IP). Those numbers have not translated into wins, primarily because the Astros have been one of the worst teams in the league, and pitcher wins are team dependent. He leads the National League in losses with 12, but expects to be on the right side of more decisions in Philadelphia. He'll make between ten and twelve starts as part of the Phillies playoff push. He'll make his Phillie debut Friday night in Washington making the second time this season a high profile pitch named Roy, acquired by the Phillies in a trade will debut against the Nationals.
Happ made 23 starts for the Phillies last year, but has been beset by injuries in 2010. His 2009 numbers are a mixed bag. He posted a nice ERA and won a dozen games, but his peripherals were more mediocre than magnificent. He kept his walks and hits down, but his strikeout rate at 6.5 K/9 IP was fairly middling. He had better peripherals in the minors, including a healthy 9.2 K/9 IP strikeout rate in 565.2 career minor league innings. While his 12-4 is likely never to be duplicated, he'll chew innings in the back of the Astros rotation for the next four seasons.
Gose has been aggressively promoted by the Phillies. He's been brutal on the basepaths getting caught 27 times in 63 attempts. He's also still learning strike zone judgment having racked up a strikeout a game this season. He is unquestionably fast averaging a triple every 51.1 plate appearances. For comparison, Denard Span, who has led the AL in triples last season and leads the league this season has averaged one every 66.9 plate appearances. He has a long deverlopment road ahead, but like most toolsy prospects possesses an abundance of upside. Gose is rumored to be on his way to Toronto in a separate deal.
Villar at just age 19 is nearly as raw as Gose, but has not been pushed as quickly up the ladder in the Phillies system. Like with Gose, the numbers may paint a partial picture of Villar. But in 100 games he's struck out 103 times and committed 42 errors. Minor league fields typically create more bad bounces, but even with a few bad bounces, the errors are abundant and may signal a position change. With Jio Mier at the same level of the minors for the Astros, that switch may happen immediately.
UPDATE: The Gose to Toronto rumors came to fruition. Shortly after the Oswalt deal was confirmed, word broke that Gose had been flipped to the Jays. Houston's return for Gose will be AAA infield prospect Brett Wallace. Wallace was once among the more prized prospects in baseball when he was in the Cardinals system a little more than a year ago. Now he's among the most traveled after stops in The A's and Jays organizations. He's put up a .301/.359/.509 batting line in 423 plate appearances for Toronto's AAA affiliate.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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