So where is Roy Oswalt going?

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roy oswalt headshot astros.jpgI don’t know. But Bernardo Fallas and Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle handicap the field today.  Included in their analysis: the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Braves, Reds, Nationals, White Sox, and Phillies.

As the writers note, there are issues with all of those, including the willingness to spend money (Dodgers, Phillies), the fact that they aren’t a real contender and thus Oswalt may reject the notion (Mets, Reds, Nationals, Chisox) or the fact that they don’t really have room in the rotation. The writers include the Braves in that last group, though I don’t think it’s safe to say that Kenshin Kawakami is going to keep Roy Oswalt out of the Braves starting five if he were to come over. For Atlanta, the issue is more likely payroll.

Though it’s not at all clear to me that Oswalt — a county boy, we are constantly reminded — wants to play in Los Angeles, the Dodgers make the most sense to me from a baseball perspective. And heck, it’s not like Houston is a small town anyway.  They seem to have less of an excuse than any of the other contenders to not at least try for Oswalt given both their needs and their means, whether or not they’re willing to fulfill them and use them, respectively.

I think the most important thing in all of this is that it’s really, really early in this process.  Trades of this magnitude just don’t come together overnight. Most of the time they sort of linger until the deadline, which is still two months away.  In that time we’ll get a stronger sense of who’s a legitimate contender and who is not and the market will mature.

But really, the Dodgers should totally make a play for the guy.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.