A big trade went down yesterday in Major League Baseball that could shake up the entire complexion of the NL as we head toward the stretch run in baseball. For the last decade or so, the most recognizable face for the Houston Astros has been Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has been the ace of the Astros staff, he has been a three-time All Star, an NLCS MVP, and he has been a Cy Young candidate a number of times throughout his career as well.
Unfortunately though, since Oswalt signed his big contract, the Astros haven’t been to the postseason. Because of that, Oswalt made it known this year that he wanted to play for a contending team and that just wasn’t going to happen in Houston. Yesterday the Astros ace decided to waive his no-trade clause and it paved the way for his departure from Houston. Now Oswalt will get his wish. He has a legitimate chance to compete for a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. While Philly currently trails the Braves in the NL East and the addition of Oswalt doesn’t guarantee another trip back to the World Series, the Phillies are riding a eight game winning streak and now have a top three at the front of their rotation that is as good as anyone in all of baseball.
Ed Wade joined KILT in Houston with Shaun and Barry to talk about trading away Roy Oswalt, why they targeted J.A. Happ in return, and whether or not Oswalt became a distraction in the clubhouse.
On how tough this deal was to pull off:
“In all honesty I think it’s more complicated. I think people not involved in the process at all can de-simplify these things and lose sight of the fact that there are so many moving parts whether it’s just a straight talent for talent deal or it’s one that carries the complication of Roy’s multiyear contract, the economic piece, and also the fact that he had a total no-trade clause in the contract.”
On what they like about J.A. Happ:
“Happ, he pitches at 91 or 92 miles per hour so he’s got a plus fastball and he’s got plus breaking stuff. Command is going to be the key for him as it is with any pitcher in this game, but he’s got enough pure stuff to get by and live past some mistakes. There are very few, if not any more hitter friendly ballparks in all of baseball than Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and this kid was the runner-up for the National League Rookie of the Year Award at Citizens Bank Park not only in a hitter-friendly park but in a very tough environment coming off the Phillies World Series win, high expectations…young kid’s put into the rotation, we want to get back to the World Series again, and all he does is finish as the runner up for the Rookie of the Year Award. We’re very happy to get J.A. into this deal. The clubs that did line up with us, we were looking for a piece that could help us immediately and there were very few that could answer that one equation for us and the Philadelphia circumstance with J.A. being available allowed us to do that.”
On the potential for Lance Berkman to get traded:
“Respectfully I don’t talk about trades and I’m not gonna change. If we get a deal with somebody we’ll announce it.”
On how much he wanted to appease Oswalt because of what he has given the Astros in his career:
“First and foremost Sean it has to be something that works for the ballclub. As solid of a citizen and good soldier as Roy Oswalt has been over the course of his career here we’ve got to look out for our own self-interest at this point in time and do what’s best for the ballclub. If that entailed keeping Roy in our uniform and forcing him to quote unquote honor the terms of his contract we were prepared to do that, but I really think the dynamics that were at play necessitated us to go out and see if we could accomplish what he hoped we could accomplish on his behalf. And the fact that it worked for both the club and for Roy is great, but at the end of the day I’m tasked with what’s doing the best interest of the ballclub and at the same time our fans.”
On whether or not Oswalt was a distraction:
“Probably. This is a daily, even in our media market which is not huge, the media is around all the time and once Roy went public with his desire to go someplace else, this was a daily issue that he had to deal with and as result I’m sure other players are being probed about it. And human nature, you hope that what you’re doing in a clubhouse is building a cohesive environment where you’re shoulder to shoulder with the guys you play with, and you don’t necessarily have to like them or love them, but you want to be cohesive. I think when one player comes out and says I want to be someplace else where I have a better chance, you may not be throwing your teammates under the bus but you’re certainly creating an environment where people are saying well maybe this guy feels he’s a little bit above what we think we are at this point in time.”