Oswalt Implications

It spread like a virus throughout the Twitterverse. Roy Oswalt signed today to pitch for the Texas Rangers.

As recently as the pre-season, I was firmly in the camp that was against signing Oswalt, feeling the Rangers had more than enough starting pitching to get them through the 2012 season. I still feel that way overall, but it sure is easy to see how one DL trip and a less than stellar start from his replacement can get the Oswalt fever going.

OK, the news Oswalt signed is indeed news. For a Rangers fan, it is news but it isn’t. Why? Because Oswalt says he’ll need about a month to be ready to go. So, on the one hand we have the “excitement” of signing this former All-Star pitcher, but on the other hand we won’t see him pitch until around the first of July. That’s like giving me a Christmas present and tell me I can’t play with it until Spring. Big whoop.

The real news of this signing is what the implications are with the signing. Does this mean Rangers brass is worried Neftali Feliz won’t be back until August or September at the earliest? Does it mean they’ve already decided to end the experiment of Feliz as a starter? Or could it mean Scott Feldman is going to be part of a trade package once Oswalt is ready to go? After all, if Feliz is ready to come back by the All-Star break, what roster move do the Rangers make when he’s ready to come back?

At the same time, how does signing Oswalt, for what is reported to be the $5 to $6 million range, affect the Rangers budget for acquiring players for the stretch run? The past two seasons have shown Texas isn’t afraid to make bold moves to get the pieces they need. They did so in 2010 with Cliff Lee, Jeff Francouer and Bengie Molina and they did it again last year with Mike Adams. Granted it’s hard to see the Rangers having any major needs come the trade deadline, but someone else could hit the DL at an inopportune time. With the front office already saying they were slightly over budget BEFORE signing Oswalt, this could be a serious consideration a couple of months from now.

On the other side of the coin, Texas has just taken away a valuable piece from a few teams with the Oswalt move. Roy Halladay is expected to miss six to eight weeks for the Phillies. Jered Weaver was pulled in the first inning of his start last night and could be missing some time. The Rangers have just kept those two teams’ best alternative from helping them.

I still think Scott Feldman could do a more than adequate job being the fifth starter, but it’s apparent the Rangers don’t think so. In the near term, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers move Feliz over to the 60-day DL to ensure he gets all the time he needs to get over his elbow ailment. In the meantime, prepare your trade scenarios, because I don’t see any way Scott Feldman is a part of this team come the post-season.