Americans are so fickle when it comes to labor. The citizens here talk about labor getting its due and fairness and all that. But as soon as the garbage trucks stop running, those same folks want the mayor to arrest all the waste management people. The same goes for baseball players. Most Americans would agree that baseball before the Marvin Miller days was unfair to players. Now, when those negotiated rights have been earned and a free agent tries to take advantage of those rights, he is scorned. The negative press that Roy Oswalt is receiving these days is a case in point.
Take this guy's point of view for example. According to this writer in question, Oswalt has a "fat head." Well, gosh. Oswalt must be a villain then. Excuse him for pitching for eleven years and earning the right to pick and choose where he will play and how much he wants to get paid. At least this writer in question admits that Roy Oswalt is worth the $10 million he is supposedly asking, "if he is healthy." The reality is that Roy Oswalt is worth $10 million even if he isn't healthy. Yeah, Oswalt only pitched 139 innings last season. But even so, those innings were worth $11.1 million.
The reality also is that whatever team ends up wanting to sign him will have a full opportunity to back off of any deal if Oswalt can't pass a physical. And don't worry. Nobody is going to plunk down that many clams without having their doctors go over Oswalt's back thoroughly.
So what makes Oswalt a villain? He wants to pitch not too far from where his family lives. Do you blame him? For six months, a baseball player spends half of his time away from home. That's a lot of time away from those you love, is it not? Oswalt would like to pitch for a contender. Wouldn't you? Baseball players are competitors. They want to compete at the highest level. Oswalt spent a lot of years in Houston playing for the Astros that weren't a heck of a lot of fun. Losing isn't fun no matter how much money you make.
Perhaps the biggest reason to call Oswalt a villain or a fat head is that he wants to be paid what he is worth. Who can blame him? The guy has won 159 games with a career FIP of 3.35. His career has been worth $170 million and he's made $91 million. Well, yeah, that's a lot of money and nobody is pitying him nor should be. But it's not like Oswalt is asking for a multi-year contract which he would be worth oodles of money. He's reportingly seeking a one year deal. No doubt part of that strategy is to rebuild some value for the next go round.
One of Oswalt's closest comps at his age is Mike Mussina. Mussina won 88 games after reaching the age of 34, Oswalt's 2012 age. When you know how to pitch, you know how to pitch, plain and simple. The bottom line here is that even if Oswalt can only give his new club 139 more innings, he'll be worth what he's asking. He's earned the right to make the deal that pays him what he's worth and play where he wants to play. Find another mule to kick already.