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Will Roy Oswalt stay in Houston?

FOX SPORTS' Jon Paul Morosi wrote an interesting piece today about the future of Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt in Houston. Oswalt has been in the same organization since 1997, compiling a 137-70 record in 280 career games.

2009 was Oswalt's first season in which he did not post more than 14 wins, finishing with an 8-6 record in 30 games.

Oswalt hinted at retirement when his contract is up, despite being just 32 years old.

"I still love the game. I still love the competition. ... But when I get finished with my contract, if I’m not pitching at the level I’m pitching at now, then I’m not going to come back and hurt the team."

The move is reminiscent of Yankees pitcher and former 'Stros teammate Andy Pettitte, who has hinted at retirement nearly every year since he turned 30 years old! (He is 37 now...)

Oswalt has dealt with his fair share of injuries, mostly related to his lower back. However, he still has the arm to fire a mid-nineties fastball, which still compliments his hard slider.

Astros GM Ed Wade has stated he feels the Astros can compete in 2010, and reiterated that in no way are the Astros in a state of rebuilding. However, with question marks at catcher, shortstop, and in the starting rotation, it is hard to believe they will be able to compete with the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers.

The Astros minor league system is very weak and has very few glimmers of hope. Moving Oswalt may be a way to clear some payroll as well as restock the farm system for the future. Moving the ace and face of the franchise would be a big blow to the Astros, but long-term it is the better move.

With Roy Halladay and Jake Peavy in new homes, Oswalt is one of the only (potentially) available upper-echelon pitchers. Several teams in need of workhorse ace or veteran to anchor a rotation could afford to make that kind of move.