The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

 

Every Day's a Halladay

In Tuesday's chat, a flurry of Baseball Prospectus readers wanted to know my thoughts on the possiblility of Blue Jays' ace Roy Halladay being dealt:
Roopan (toronto): If the jays put a Halladay/Wells combo on the market - would [there] be any take[r]s. I don't believe a mid-market team like the jays can afford to pay 2 players 20+ mil.

JJ: I don't think there's any team out there who could afford the blood and treasure it would take to land both at the same time. And I don't think there's any reason to trade Halladay given that he's got another year on his contract. Pitching is what's keeping the Jays relevant right now, and while I'm not really a believer that they can elbow their way into the postseason this year, there's zero chance it happens without the Doctor.
The topic was still a hot one when I did Wednesday's Toledo and Boston (no MP3 love) radio hits. Today I've got a BP/ESPN Insider piece examining the teams most in need of Halladay's services, a short list which assumes that he won't be dealt within the AL East, that he'll be dealt to a team that can add payroll, and one whose minor league system isn't devoid of blue-chip prospects:
Our Support-Neutral pitching stats tell us he's been worth 3.9 wins above replacement level over a half-season of work -- that's a lot -- and it's no stretch to think he'd be worth three additional wins to nearly any team that bumps aside their fifth starter. It's a truly massive upgrade.

The Jays' ace won't come cheap with regards to blood or treasure, however. Not only will he take multiple top prospects to acquire, he's owed the balance of a $14.25 million contract this year and then $15.75 million next year, a price that will scare away some teams operating in a tight economy. That's also before considering that waiving his no-trade clause might require a Johan Santana-style extension, though Ricciardi says he won't open a negotiating window for a potential suitor.

Those obstacles suggest a trade isn't imminent, but from the standpoint of these five teams, it should be. An extra three starts between now and the July 31 deadline would be worth three-quarters of a win beyond a replacement-level fifth starter. Ask the Brewers what that was worth to them last year.

...

1. Phillies: 5.02 rotation ERA (15th in NL), 6.0 SNLVAR (13th in NL)
No other team combines the resources and the motivation to deal for Doc better than the defending champs, who lead the NL East mainly because their offense is pummeling opponents into submission, scoring one-third of a run more per game than any other NL team. With Cole Hamels battling a post-championship hangover and Brett Myers probably done for the year due to hip surgery, rookie J.A. Happ is the only Phils starter who's beating the park-adjusted league-average ERA. His arrival has coincided with an improved performance from the starting five (a 3.98 ERA since May 23), but they remain vulnerable to the long ball, allowing 1.3 HR/9, and 1.6 HR/9 overall. The staff as a whole is the league's most fly ball-oriented, a bad match for Citizens Bank Park. Halladay's ability to generate ground balls (doing so on 56.4 percent of balls in play, the fifth-best mark in the majors) would be an ideal tonic. Pairing him with Hamels as 1-2 punch should give potential postseason opponents night sweats.

...

3. Brewers: 5.01 rotation ERA (14th in NL), 5.5 SNLVAR (14th in NL)
Even with Ryan Braun pressing the case that the Brewers need better starting pitching to survive the NL Central race, general manager Doug Melvin has continually cautioned that he won't trade his top prospects in another CC Sabathia-sized deal. Braun has a point, however. Yovani Gallardo is the only Brew Crew starter with an ERA better than the park-adjusted league average, and with David Bush injured and Manny Parra banished to the minors, the team has been forced to call upon journeyman Mike Burns, who earned his first major league win just two weeks shy of his 31st birthday. Like Sabathia last year, Halladay could dominate in the Central, which features four offenses scoring at rates below the league average.
Personally, I'd be surprised if a deal gets done before the deadline. The Phillies will be likely reluctant to give up the prospects Toronto wants, such as Kyle Drabek -- good thing, as far as the Dodgers' pursuit of the pennant is concerned -- and the Rangers (#2 here) won't be willing to take on the extra $20+ million.

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