Does Roy Oswalt have any magic left? 

January, 30, 2012
I suppose to some fantasy baseball owners it doesn't really matter which team right-hander Roy Oswalt ends up with. There was a SportsNation poll on on Monday that listed the top options as being the St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. Any or all of those teams could be postseason-bound, possessing strong offenses, so run support wouldn't be an issue. Perhaps another team will enter the fray. Regardless, Oswalt is an established veteran and, assuming some degree of health, seems to be a nice sleeper for the 2012 season.

[+] EnlargeRoy Oswalt
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireRoy Oswalt was limited to 23 starts in 2011.
Of course, that didn't matter at the recent ESPN Fantasy Baseball Summit meetings, when I felt alone on an island reminding the crew that Oswalt was the No. 20 starting pitcher in ESPN average live drafts a year ago. Let's just say he won't be in nearly as much demand this season, if he's chosen at all. Oswalt isn't likely to make our top 50 starting pitchers. A year ago, he was 33, coming off a season with a 2.76 ERA, 1.025 WHIP and 193 strikeouts in 211 2/3 innings, an ace among aces in that Philly rotation. Now he's 34 and coming off a season with numbers considerably worse and a back problem, and potentially still looking for a job in February. Ah, how soon they forget.

I can't tell you Oswalt definitively will make 30 starts for whatever team he settles on for what figures to be a short-term contract. I can't tell you his ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate will bounce back to pre-2011 rates. However, I think he's certainly worth the risk in real life on a one-year deal as a No. 3 or 4 starter, and, for fantasy leaguers in standard (10-team) formats, I'd draft him among the top 50 starting pitchers. Then again, I might draft just one starting pitcher in the first 10 or 12 rounds, so he'd be the type of guy I'd be looking for in the second half of a draft. To me, Oswalt represents a good risk; from top 20 starting pitcher on draft day to potentially undrafted seems a bit crazy, even for a guy with a back injury. The skills are still there, and he's a proven commodity, and, unless something odd occurs, he'll be with a good team, which only helps his value.