Kicking The Tires On Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge

An article by posted on October 25, 2011

On Monday, the Phillies officially declined the 2012 options for starter Roy Oswalt and reliever Brad Lidge. Neither player are totally out of the picture yet as GM Ruben Amaro did say he would keep in tough with agents for both players and one or both could be brought back next season at a much reduced price.

Oswalt  was set to earn $16MM and was bought out for $2MM, while Lidge received a $1.5MM buyout instead of a $12.5MM payday.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com posted these capsules for each new free agent:

Lidge, 34, went 0-2 with one save and a 1.40 ERA in 25 appearances this season. He struck out 23 batters in 19.1 innings, an average of 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched.  In four seasons (2008-11) with Philadelphia, Lidge posted a 3-11 record with 100 saves and a 3.73 ERA.  In 22 postseason appearances, he went 1-1 with 12 saves in 12 opportunities and a 1.77 ERA.

Oswalt, also 34, went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies this past season.  In 36 regular season games (35 starts) since being acquired from the Houston Astros on July 29, 2010, he was 16-11 with a 2.96 ERA.

I think both players could be intriguing for the Mets depending on how things shake out with the Jose Reyes negotiations.

Lidge would fill the most immediate need and pitched effectively after returning from rotator cuff surgery. His strikeout rate of 10.7 jumps out at me, but my excitement is somewhat tempered by a high walk rate leading to a 1.50 WHIP. That said, if we were able to get him on an incentive based one year deal with a $3 million dollar base, there’s still plenty of potential and gas left in his tank to make this a no-brainer for the Mets.

Lidge would obviously take over as closer and be a calming veteran presence for youngsters Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato – similar to the role Jason Isringhausen played last season. Of course there would be concerns about that right shoulder, but if it gives out you didn’t risk much. Of course if he reverts back to the dominant force he was before injuries took it’s toll, Lidge could give the Mets a solid end game solution for the entire season.

As for Oswalt, I always liked him and was kind of bummed when the Phillies acquired him from their exclusive pipeline to the Houston Astros.

Yes, he missed some time with a back injury in 2011, but he did finish strong – making his last eleven starts in a row while posting a 3.59 ERA. That is just a notch higher than his 3.21 career ERA and remember he pitched half his starts in Citizens Ban Patio.

Before last season, Oswalt pitched 180 or more inning for nine consecutive seasons. He has finished in the the Top 10 of Cy Young voting six times in eleven seasons, and also has the third highest winning percentage among all active pitchers with 200 or more games started, posting a .631 Win% (159-93).

Oswalt won’t come as cheap as Lidge, but he won’t get a boatload of cash either as many teams may be scared off by his back injury or his Type A free agent status. The Mets first round pick is protected anyway, but taking a shot on Oswalt and then dangling him at the trade deadline to a contender ala Carlos Beltran, or getting draft picks back at the end of his contract would be another benefit.

It’s certainly something to think about.

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