Oswalt Unpoised in Phillies Debut

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, July 31, 2010 03:31 AM | Comments: 69

Don’t misinterpret this headline – no judgment is being passed on Roy Oswalt’s ability after one late July start. I mean, it’s not as if Roy Number Two a) pitched well in his debut Friday, b) hit his spots, or c) threw effective breaking pitches, but the mediocre first impression he left is not indicative of the The Real Roy Oswalt.

THAT is not the Oswalt you’re gonna get. So there’s no need for overreaction and even less of a need for worries.

There’s your “good” news. The bad news is that Oswalt looked completely unpoised in his six innings of work – letting his emotions show almost on-cue following every hanging breaking ball.

Now, emotions can be refreshing at times. Bill Simmons wrote a bunch of words last night about how boring players create an air of apathy (he didn’t write those exact words, but mentioned how it’s hard to identify with J.D. Drew because he carries a pokerface wherever he goes.)

Very, very rarely, however, are profanity and frustrated body language beneficial on the mound.

Once upon a time, Cole Hamels got flustered easily. The best way to describe Hamels’ prior tendencies after a poor play in the field would be “visibly upset.” This is how Oswalt appeared after Roger Bernadina’s double, Adam Dunn’s hit by pitch, and Josh Willingham’s two-run double.

On Bernadina’s double, Oswalt blatantly said “f–k, motherf—er,” almost immediately after Comcast SportsNet’s director called for a close-up on him. He made sure to add a “f–k, son of a b—h” before delivering his next pitch.

There are many reasons a pitcher can struggle on a given night, but poise, a solid mindset, and the ability to execute each play a massive role in subsequent outcomes. It is ironic that Oswalt’s blood pressure increased so much Friday night, because the pitcher he was traded for, J.A. Happ, is an absolute corpse on the mound. Nothing phases him.

(But, uh…yeah, I’ll still take Oswalt’s talent.)

Rarely is a pitcher effective once the floodgates of frustration open. Carlos Zambrano has showed us time and time and time again. The Hamels of old showed us, too, and Brett Myers before him. Friday was an off-night for Oswalt, but there was no-coming-back-for-him once he let his irritation build and surface.

An adjective like “fiery” is not something we can read about on paper from references in Houston. Oswalt may be an extremely fiery guy. That is something we’ll see for ourselves and be able to better determine after a few more starts. Maybe he is just so high strung that emotions and expletives fly no matter what the situation.

Or, hey, maybe he just can’t execute against the Nationals. On May 31, Oswalt pitched only 2.2 innings versus the Nats before his repeated arguing with home plate umpire Bill Hohn led to an ejection. Oswalt couldn’t hit his spots that day against Washington, nor could he on Friday.

The good news is: you don’t have to worry about his performance. This was merely an ill-timed off-night for Oswalt.

The bad news is, New Roy needs work on his pokerface.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 Glutenous

    Good for JA Happ. I like him and want to see him have a successful career in the majors. It was sad to see him go, because he is young, still developing as a pitcher and has potential, I believe (if he stays healthy), to be an effective 2 or 3 pitcher depending on the team he is pitching for. I highly doubt he will ever become an ace-type pitcher. However, is it just me, or does something not seem right about Roy Oswalt in philly? It has nothing to do with his performance today, as I was thinking this before he even threw the first pitch that ended up being a Nyjer(sp) Morgan triple. First of all, we are not even sure if he truly wants to be here, as per all of the pre-trade babble(true or untrue), and to me it just seems weird seeing him pitch for the Phillies. When Cliff came, and then Halladay this year, it sort of seemed like they belonged and fit right in. It seemed that Cliff quickly gelled with the group. I understand that Oswalt probably didn’t even have the time to make most of the players’ acquaintance and may not have been comfortable, but to me it didn’t seem like he belonged out there in a Phillies uniform. Hopefully this is just me having a mild case of paranoia and things will turn out well. Roy Oswalt will have plenty of time to win the city over.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phillies Buzz and iPhillySports, Corey Seidman. Corey Seidman said: My thoughts on Roy Oswalts lack of poise in Phils debut. Not knockin ability or performance-dont take it as such http://tinyurl.com/roypoise [...]

  • Posts: 0 George

    This is a very premature assessment of Oswalt, and a very harsh one.

    It was his first game with a team he’s excited to be with, because he knows he now has a chance to reach the playoffs. He wanted to do well, and must have been disgusted with himself when he didn’t.

    Oswalt has pitched in the postseason with no problems, so I don’t think poise is an issue. I’d even guess he probably uttered some foul words then when he gave up a hit or two. In fact, I’d bet even a Seidman swears when he discovers misspellings in his articles.

  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    Im not so sure it is a little harsh if you look at his career numbers against the Braves, Marlins and Nats. His career ERA against those 3 teams is 7+! The only NL East team he pitches well against are the Mets. His career ERA against them is about 3. Look at his last several outings against the Braves, Marlins and Nats. Each are 6 or less IP, with at least 5 ER. Granted, I believe yesterday should have been 4 ER had Dobbs had a clue, Ruiz not thrown the ball to Ibanez, but still, he does not do well historically against those team. What does that mean about the rest? It seems to me, you take out the career numbers against those teams, and you have a sub 3 ERA. So if we can get him to not have to pitch against those 3 teams, he will look like a BEAST. He even has done well against some REALLY good teams, like the Yankees (ERA about 3.).

    As for the “swear words”. Are we really talking about that at all? Arent we talking about Philadelphia Sports? Thats a fact of being in Philly. Take maybe “Boo? F#$% YOU!” or World F#%$ Champions”. How about “F@#% the Mets!”. LOL. I would much rather him get PISSED, curse and go at em. He is an emotional pitcher and that works for him MOST of the time, just not usually against some teams in the NL East.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Roy Halladay gets pissed off on the mound all the time. I’m only an amateur lipreader but I know f-bombs when I see them. Its an emotional time for Roy so lets cut him some slacka-roo.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Are you saying that Oswalt needs to take a tip from Lady Gaga?

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Some scouts had been seeing a different Oswalt this season. Maybe (hopefully) we’ll get to see the old Oswalt at some point.

    From Jayson Stark (before last night’s game):

    Then there’s Oswalt himself. His numbers are still great. His stuff is still dynamic. But he’s been giving off a very different aura on the mound lately. And it’s been enough to make some people wonder if that’s a sign there’s a very different pitcher behind that now-familiar face.

    “This guy is not the same,” said another NL scout. “He’s been pitching lately like a guy who didn’t want to be there [in Houston]. If he gets back to pitching like he did in the past and the beginning of this season, then the Phillies have a No. 1 or a No. 2 who is capable of doing things the guy they traded for him [J.A. Happ] couldn’t do.

    “But that’s not the guy I’ve seen lately. The guy I’ve seen lately has made me wonder: Is he healthy? Is his back OK? Is he feeling his age? Or has he just had enough of Houston? Because he just hasn’t been the same guy. He hasn’t been the super-competitive guy he’s always been. That’s what he’s got to get back to, and he’s capable of doing that. If he does, then it’s a hell of a deal. If not, I don’t know.”

    We’ve also heard this same talk from other folks in the last week or so, as the Oswalt trade rumors erupted. We heard an executive of one NL team explain to us, for instance, why he couldn’t envision overpaying for THIS Roy Oswalt because “I used to fear facing that guy. Now, I don’t have the same fear I used to have when he took the mound against us.”

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 NickFromGermantown

    Is it too late to trade for Cliff Lee?

    (just kidding, kinda)

    Cut Oswalt some slack. It wasn’t even a terrible start, it just wasn’t what we expected. It’s a shame Ruiz had that error because the beginning of the game was just so rocky.

    Let’s just get Montgomery to buy him a tractor or backhoe or something if he finishes the season strong.

  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    The Phillies were fools to release Josh Fogg

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I couldn’t help but sour a liiiiittle bit on the trade after Oswalt looked like crap and Happ went 6 scoreless… I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it does raise some doubts about the new guy already. Hopefully, he can set the ship straight. His last 3 starts have now been far from inspiring.

  • Posts: 0 Archer

    We live in a moral universe, and that’s it. The wars of the world are not waged by weapons and technology; that is the illusion. The wars of the world are won by morals and one’s sense of morality.

    Let’s look at the Philadelphia Phillies and their latest moves to try to win a World Series; but before I begin, let me ask you a question: Was John Wooden a great coach, or not? If you believe that he was, and he was, then you must accept his theories and philosophies as valid.

    The Philadelphia Phillies yesterday traded pitcher J. Happ and others to the Houston Astros for pitcher Roy Oswalt. Many learned experts are crowing that the Phillies got the best of the trade. Really? What is the effect on team morale when the Phillies throw another 2008 World Series victory contributor under the bus? What was the effect on the Phillies when they threw Cliff Lee, who won two games in the 2009 World Series, under the bus? What was the effect on morale when the Phillies failed to reward Jayson Werth, their star outfielder, another 2008 World Series victory contributor, with a new contract even as they opened up the vaults to others?

    Oh, I get it, though; the Phillies have to go for the World Series victory now, not in the future. Well, those don’t sound like the philosophies of John Wooden to me. Wooden never asked his players to win; he asked them to play to the best of their abilities. He felt that if players did that, the wins would take care of themselves.

    The Phillies are making the classic mistake of placing results above process. When you constantly have your eye on the prize, the prize becomes more elusive. It goes against the wisdom of the Chinese master and his student. One day long ago in ancient China, the student asked his master how long it would take to become a master. Ten years was the response. The anxious student desiring not to waste any time, and wanting it all now, then asked how long it would take if he worked twice as hard. Twenty years was the response.

    When you throw anyone and everyone under the bus in exchange for glory, you are cheating others and yourself. You send the message loud and clear that loyalty and sacrifice mean nothing to you, that you are only about yourself and your victories. Why would any player or person be loyal to an organization like that?

    These principles are not relevant to just the Philadelphia Phillies, but to any organization, company or family.

    Morality is the ruling force and presence in the universe. Another name for it is God.

  • Posts: 0 Sister Myrtle Styles

    Vulgarity and profanity have no place in professional sports. Charlie Manuel should have washed this Oswalt’s mouth out with soap after the game, or even during it. We are setting poor examples for our young-uns when we cuss and swear. Personally, it offends me terribly.
    GO PHILS !!! And keep it clean, please

  • Posts: 0 Sister Myrtle Styles

    Hey Archer, were you or are you a philosophy major? We’re talking baseball here. This is our American pasttime and a perfect example of “What have you done for me lately….meaning yesterday.” Don’t read too much into it or your head will explode into your bowels and create the proverbial “Head Up Your Ass” mentality. None of us want that. Eliminating profanity and vulgarity is as big a step as we ever will be able to take here.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Are we seriously gonna have “doubts” about this trade because Happ did well in his outing and Oswalt didn’t? This guy just needs a start or two and he will be fine.

  • Posts: 0 Sister Myrtle Styles

    I am inclined to follow your thinking, Chuck. It is both supportive of the team and healthy for one’s mind at this point to maintain a positive attitude. You are a good leader. Thank you for leading the way.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Sorry Archer, trading or not signing a player is not “throwing him under the bus”. There are business decisions that need to be made when running a professional sports franchise, and they almost always must weigh being able to compete in the present as well as the future while staying within the confines of a fixed budget.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 Guh

    What an embarrassing post. I didn’t know my grandmother wrote for this blog!

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Relax guys, Oswalt will be dynamite down the stretch, and WHEN he pitches well in the playoffs this year for this team, we will all forget about this start.

    Because they are going to the postseason.

    They have to be looking into an infield bat who can play many positions as well as a reliever. Those are needed and will help down the stretch. This team is going to outlast the Braves, who simply cannot maintain their first half level of play.

  • Posts: 0 Sister Myrtle Styles

    Geoff, your words are music to my ears. I am an ardent Phillies fan and really love this team. Thanks for the uplift.

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    @Archer- well written sir, but it sounds like kick arse advice for a parent, not a ballclub.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    They are just too good and stacked up to miss the playoffs. They will get their players back and it will be all good again.

  • Posts: 0 bureaucratist

    I can’t believe I’m reading so many Phillies fans so confident that Oswalt is going to turn out great. When did optimism come to Philadelphia? I know I haven’t been back in a while, but this is ridiculous. Oswalt was terrible last night. There’s no ribbon you can put on that turd of a game. Worse, when the team should have been the most jazzed about having acquired another valuable piece, they were the same flat pieces of ess they were in June. These are not good signs.

  • Posts: 0 Mike

    Does anybody remember how the great Cliff Lee pitched in his first game for the Texas Rangers.

    9H 6 R 6ER 2 K’s 3 HR’s

  • Posts: 0 TBOH

    I imagine when Doc gets upset on the mound he just gently closes his eyes and a tiny village on the other side of the world explodes.

  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    It was a very disappointing game, to be sure. And obviously we can’t use the “Roy traveled alot and was tired” excuse, because JA Happ did the same amount of traveling and was lights out. Hopefully R2 will acclimate himself soon and feel right at home, but you have to wonder how the rest of the team feels about a guy who had to be coerced by Brad Lidge to come to Phila.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    As much as I don’t like giving free passes, I’m giving Roy Oswalt one.

    Jet-lag, nerves, new situation, new teammates, new manager, new catcher — who knows? I was a little nervous about his start pretty much the next day.

    I’m reserving judgment on Oswalt-as-a-Phillie because Oswalt-as-an-Astro is better than that.

    Onward and upward!

  • [...] not really.  Why is so much emphasis being put on the fact that Oswalt was cursing like a demon out there? “Players curse more than you can imagine.  Obviously, the networks try to hide [...]

  • Posts: 0 Sister Myrtle Styles

    You make cogent points, Kate. Obviously you know a great deal about the sport and about human nature. Keeping an open mind is the best route to take.

  • Posts: 0 Handsome Jack

    The Phils should make a last ditch attempt to go after utility players Jose Lopez of Seattle or Willie Bloomquist of KC. They bat right and play multiple positions. Lopez has more pop in the bat than Bloomquest, who sports a better glove. Either would be an upgrade over Dobbs.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    My God it was his first outing. He didnt even have to pitch. The offense didnt exactly light the scoreboard. He said he was nervous and holding the ball to tight. He is a proven pitcher. The guy is a horse. Give him a few starts.

  • Posts: 0 Philly Texan

    Let’s not read too much into one game—especially one pitched under difficult emotional circumstances.

    Has Oswalt ever been traded before? I don’t think so. The first trade can be a little jarring, and he’s obviously pressing because he wants to do well coming into a pennant race. He hadn’t even met most of his teammates before he went out and pitched for them.

    So I can understand how a guy as competitive as Oswalt would lose his sh*t if he were getting hit around in that situation last night.

    Let’s give him a few more starts before we start making evaluations.

    Nice to see Happ do well. Typical Happ game: 60 pitches through 3 innings, four walks, but pitched out of trouble by keeping the Brewers 0-8 with RISP. The guys is a high-wire act, but he wins. Gotta admire that.

  • Posts: 0 Tortilla Fats

    Having watched Oswalt when I lived in Houston, I will tell you Philly folks that you are getting one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is no Roy Halladay, but nobody is when you look at complete games and the overall stud factor. But make no mistake, Oswalt will make you proud. He is a stud and fierce competitor.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    This wasn’t a post about “morality”, as some commenters have sarcastically insinuated…it was a post explaining how frustration, visibile profanity, and negative body language all hinder a pitcher’s performance, and how we should hope this was merely first-outing jitters/emotions and not a sign of things to come.

    I stated numerous times that this was not about performance. So I hope those saying “give the guy a break, it was his first outing” are saying that in response to other commenters.

  • Posts: 0 jeremy

    Did someone really mention josh fogg on this board? I saw 3 of his starts in Reading, the first game he pitched 1 1/3 inning and had given up 7 earned run and 3 homers, the 2nd start he made it 2 inning but had given up 8 earned runs and a ridiculous 9 hits in that time. The 3rd start he actually made it into the 3rd inning and had cut back his runs allowed to 5 but still had given up a ridiculous amount of hit, he was realeased shortly there after. His ERA was like 27 when he left and that was pitching in AA ball. Safe to say that experiment wasn’t going to work

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Guys, it’s baseball. It’s about the long run. Disappointing yes, but he still went as deep into the game as any game Happ has all season. Oswalt will be fine. Have to keep them bats working.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Josh Fogg is not a major league pitcher anymore, and has not been for several years.

    I would like to see a last minute utility player or bullpen arm, and the Phillies are being suspiciously quiet, which means RAJ is busy.

    I would like to see the Nationals move Dunn so he cannot hurt us this season anymore.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Blaton is pretty bad vs the Nats. Hopefully he can change that tonight.

  • Posts: 0 Tortilla Fats

    Are the Phils done or are they still active before the trade deadline?

  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"

    The phillies will make no more trades!

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    The Nats play us like its the World Series. Its amazing. The only player I would take is Zimmerman. God I would love to have him playing third base for us.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Yankees get Kerry Wood.
    I wanted him.
    I guess there isnt a RP coming. I am very worried. Durbin didnt lookso good last night.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Dotel t the Dodgers.
    If the pen beats the phils in the playoffs. I will be sad is all. Not complaining.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Let’s not forget that the Braves, who are a better team than last year (their hot streak wasn’t a fluke, even if it does appear to be evening out), dropped two to the Nationals.

    I’m glad for Happ that he made such a good showing last night for the Astros. With a few exceptions, I’m always happy to see former Phillies doing well.

    I’m hoping they sit Dobbs down tonight.

    As for the profanity, I see it as being understandable given Oswalt’s circumstances, but as several have already pointed out, he needs to work on controlling his emotions a bit better. There’s no need for excessive profanity in any situation. That’s not a moral statement, it’s just a fact.

  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"


  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"


  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Braves get kyle fahrnsworth and Rick Ankeil. dont care about Ankeil but Fahrnsworth stings. As did Qualls to Tampa.

  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"


  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Lets face it wagner is probably better than Ledge. I think Wagner sucks but the rest of the Braves pen is impressive. the Phils biggest weakness is a big strength for the Braves. I dont like it. And when the pen blows leads or gives up inherited runers or just overall sucks it does damage more than just the numbers and the loss. It does mental damage. I really wish the Phils could have gotten one or 2 of these relievers.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    I dont thnk Wagner sucks I thnk hes a choke artist. Used the wrong word there.

  • Posts: 0 "PHILLYBOY"


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