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Phillies Acquire Roy Oswalt

The Phillies finally have acquired Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros, a much-ballyhooed rumor now blossomed into a reality. Let’s start with analysis of the tenured right-hander himself.

Oswalt, generously listed at 6’0″ on his Baseball Reference page, has finished in the top-five in National League Cy Young award voting five times in ten seasons. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 and is a three-time All-Star. He is definitely well-respected in mainstream circles. How does he rate with the Sabermetrics?

Over his career, he has an above average strikeout rate at 7.4 per nine and a below average walk rate at 2.1 per nine. His career 3.57 xFIP is a bit higher than his 3.24 ERA; both are extremely good numbers. His 3.34 SIERA this year is ninth-best in baseball and fourth-best in the National League (fifth-best if you include Dan Haren).

According to the pitch type linear weights found on FanGraphs, Oswalt’s curve ball ranks eighth-best in the Majors this year, slightly ahead of those thrown by Roy Halladay and Brett Myers. His fastball averages 93 MPH, a full MPH higher than the average Cole Hamels fastball.

There were concerns that Oswalt was hitting the skids after a disappointing 2009 in which he posted a 4.12 ERA, the fourth straight year his ERA had increased. Additionally, he induced fewer ground balls — his GB% was at its lowest since 2004. And while he was not a frequent addition to the disabled list, he always seemed to have some kind of ailment nagging him. Last year, he dealt with lower back and pitching hand issues. The back issues have persisted, but thanks to cortisone shots Oswalt has not missed a start this season.

In acquiring Oswalt from the Astros, the Phillies will give up J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose, and Jonathan Villar.

Happ is not exactly a favorite around these parts:

He will never be the same pitcher he was last year. He is not a maven of control, he is not able to miss bats on a frequent basis, and he has no special batted ball abilities. He is simply mundane. Happ pitches like a 4.50 ERA pitcher and that is what should be expected. His 2009 was a complete and utter fluke.

Gose is a 19-year-old center fielder that spent the entirety of this season in Clearwater where he hit .263 with a combined 28 doubles and triples in 418 at-bats. For someone of his age at his level, his 7% walk rate is fine but his 25% strikeout rate will need to come down for his bat and speed to be of any significant value. Jim Callis of Baseball America described him as a “raw tools guy” in a recent tweet.

Villar is also a 19-year-old, a shortstop who could be found in Lakewood. He has good speed and a plus-glove by all accounts, but has not yet developed the requisite bat. He is on a slightly faster track than Freddy Galvis, another light-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop currently with Reading. Given that the Phillies picked up Jimmy Rollins‘ option for next year and are likely to sign him to an extension beyond that, losing Villar is not a big deal especially with an insurance policy in Galvis.

The Phillies absolutely 100% swindled Astros GM Ed Wade. Not only did the Phillies give up no one of any real significance, but they also received $11 million along with their new #1-b pitcher. This trade will set the Astros back and will set the Phillies up for another run at the post-season in which they hope to become the first National League team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to appear in three consecutive World Series. As much as GM Ruben Amaro has been criticized, he deserves some praise for this highway robbery.