Standing at a measly 15-27, which is good for last place in the National League, the lowly Houston Astros’ season has gone from bad, to potentially worse.

On Friday, Houston’s star pitcher, Roy Oswalt, who has looked very impressive so far this season in amassing a 2.66 ERA and starting his 2010 pitching campaign with nine consecutive quality starts, requested a trade from the Astros, hoping to play for a contender to conclude the season.

You know what? He deserves that chance.

While his aforementioned stats are certainly impressive, he only has a 2-6 record to show for it, a product of pitching for one of the worst offenses in all of baseball, an offense that ranks dead last in batting average (.228), slugging percentage (.320), runs scored (124), and home runs (21), among other categories as well.

In short, the Astros offense couldn’t hit a beach ball.

After reaching the World Series in 2005, Houston has gradually made the decline from legitimate MLB team, to something that can be more closely compared to a AA or AAA ball club. The team isn’t going anywhere this season, and with the management team currently running the show in Houston, things aren’t likely to get better any time soon.

While he may deserve a trade to New York, LA, Tampa Bay, or some other team with a chance of competing in the playoffs over the next couple seasons, Oswalt will, in a likelihood, be stuck pitching for a bad team going nowhere fast for the remainder of his contract.

Unfortunately for Oswalt, his contract is so unattractive at the moment that it will probably render all of his positive qualities meaningless when it comes time to discuss a trade.

For the most part, Oswalt is a very attractive pitcher. He’s 32, which means that, although he is a veteran, he still has several good years left in his arm, and he’s still pitching remarkably well.

In 2006, after Oswalt was rumored to be headed out of town in a trade, the star pitcher secured a six-year, $73 million contract from Houston.

The behemoth of a contract calls for Oswalt to be paid $15 million in 2010 and then bumps his salary to $16 million next season, numbers that few teams can afford at the moment.

Contenders such as the Tampa Bay Rays could probably use him, but they won’t go for a contract that large, and teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (two teams that always seem to be in the running for whoever wants to be traded) could probably afford him, but neither team really has any need for another starting pitcher and could use that money much more effectively somewhere else.

It’s an unfortunate situation for Oswalt, as pretty much all the teams that want him can’t afford him, and most of the teams that could afford him either don’t have a place for him or just don’t want him at this moment.

While his contract is certainly a major deterrent for most of the teams out there, if Houston had a competent front office there would probably be a solution out there, one that would see Oswalt playing for a contender by the trade deadline.

They key word in that sentence was “if.”

Any hope that Oswalt has of jumping ship is almost certainly going to be crushed by the incompetence of the Astros front office, which, between owner Drayton McLane and general manager Ed Wade, has successfully taken a 2005 title contender, run it into the ground, and watched it burst into flames.

For starters, it doesn’t sound like the team wants to accommodate Oswalt at all, preferring to keep him around just in case the team can maybe turn things around over the next couple seasons and compete for a playoff spot, something that Wade seemed to make clear when asked about Oswalt’s request:

“Roy’s contract has a no-trade clause, not a trade-me clause. There is no rule that allows a player in his contract status to demand a trade. So demand, request, hold your breath until you turn blue, it’s all the same. It’s acknowledged and noted.”

In all likelihood, for another team to pry Oswalt away from the Astros, it will need to offer up a bevy of prospects and maybe one or two other major league players in order to get him out of Houston.

Not because he is worth all of that, but because the owner who seems to have an affection for Oswalt thinks he is.

A 32-year-old pitcher who probably has three more solid seasons in him is not worth mortgaging a team’s future for. For teams with the quality pitching prospects that Houston will desire, why cough up five to 10 potentially good years from multiple young players for two to four good ones from an aging star?

It doesn’t make sense, which is why it will never happen.

Had Houston really wanted to trade Oswalt, they should’ve done it two or three years ago, when he had more than just a handful of quality seasons left.

But they didn’t, and now both the Astros and Oswalt are stuck in a situation that they don’t really want to be in.

For Oswalt, he’s essentially doomed to pitch in Houston for the remainder of his contract, just wasting away.

As for Houston, this team needs a total rebuilding, starting by gutting the current roster by trading any assets it has for as many quality prospects as it can. There is little potential on this major league roster, one filled with aging and underperforming, overpaid players, and it’s not going to get much better if the team remains stagnant.

Both scenarios are highly unlikely to be remedied within the next couple of seasons, which is a shame because the fans in Houston and Roy Oswalt both deserve better than what they’re getting at the moment.

So while Oswalt is ready to blast off and shoot for the stars, he’s probably just going to touch down right back in Houston with the same old 15-27 ball club.

In fact, he probably won’t even get off the ground.

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