Would you trade Strasburg for Oswalt?

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
9:31
PM ET
Craig on something that sounds just a little outlandish:
    Both geography and an elaborate b.s.-dampening system I recently had installed prevents me from picking up WFAN radio in my home, but according to this guy, Former Mets GM Steve Phillips was just on the Mike Francesa show and said that he'd trade Stephen Strasburg for Roy Oswalt straight up if he were running the Nationals.

    It's days like this that Mets fans should look upon Omar Minaya and be thankful for what they have.

I'm obviously straining the limits of conscientious blogging -- which isn't easy to do -- by publishing (in its entirety) a post riffing off-handedly on a second-hand account of something somebody said (or might not have said) on the radio. So I'll neither criticize nor defend that certain somebody.

Instead, let's think through a trade that might, in an alternate reality, make sense for a team with title to Stephen Strasburg's considerable talents.

Not the Nationals, though. Given where they are in the development cycle, it's simply impossible to justify trading six years of Strasburg for 10 months of Roy Oswalt. And that would be true even if Oswalt wasn't slated to earn nearly $30 million through the 2011 season.

But what if you're a contender, and the money's not all that important? Who's more likely to get you into the playoffs this season, and help you win the World Series?

Oswalt, clearly. Strasburg's going to pitch maybe 110 innings in the majors this season, and he'll burn those up before October (if not September). If you were really trying to win, you might remove him from the rotation in July or August and deploy him for the rest of the season as your not-so-secret bullpen weapon, like the Rays used David Price in 2008. But if you'd given the Rays a choice between Price and Oswalt that summer, wouldn't they have chosen Oswalt?

And what about 2009? Oswalt missed a few starts last year and was bizarrely unlucky, going just 8-6 in 30 starts. But Price spent part of the season in the minors and wasn't terribly impressive during his time in the majors. Obviously, the Rays wouldn't trade Price for Oswalt today ... but it's worth mentioning that Price is now in his third major league season, and he's still not the pitcher we once thought he would become.

He might still. But you always wonder. With Roy Oswalt, there's very little wondering. Take the money out of it, and if I'm trying to win right now, I would rather have Roy Oswalt than Stephen Strasburg in 2010 and '11, because I think Oswalt is going to win more games in these two seasons. I'm not worried about babying his tender right arm, and I'm not worried about adjusting to pitching against the best hitters in the world.

If I'm the Nationals, though? Fuhgeddaboutit.

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