You can clumsily cite principal owner Fred Wilpon and his family supposedly being stingy for such a deal not materializing, but that would be misguided -- even if ownership isn't blameless. The bottom line is the payroll is still hovering around $130 million this season.
The better answer: If GM Omar Minaya had shown restraint in his other salary commitments -- say, not giving Luis Castillo four years and $25 million or Oliver Perez three years and $36 million or guaranteeing seven years to Carlos Beltran -- he likely would have had the flexibility to pull off an Oswalt-type trade now.
It's far more about no discipline than no money.
Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will make $18 million between them both this season and next season. That is nothing less than a fiasco. The Beltran argument is a bit of a reach; he will only be 34 next season and there was no reason to believe he would have a career-threatening knee injury with two years remaining on the contract.
I have been saying all season that Beltran wouldn't play in 2010. I was wrong about that - he definitely came back earlier than expected. I will say that he is clearly not playing at full strength and nothing less than a full offseason of rest will change that. I still think the days of Carlos Beltran as an elite baseball player have come to an end.