Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Halladay Sweepstakes

I will do my AL second half preview in the next day or two. But more important news. As many of you have heard, the Blue Jays have set a July 28 deadline for trading Roy Halladay. Halladay's start next week would be July 29, so Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi decided that if Halladay would be traded, it would be before that next start. Ricciardi has also stated that it is most likely a deal will not get done. This is because, as CNN/SI's Jon Heyman reports, the Phillies refused to include Kyle Drabek (Doug's son) in any trade offer, despite what Buster Olney says, and the Mets turned down a 4-1 offer of Jon Niese, Fernando Martinez, Bobby Parnell and minor league shortstop Ruben Tejada for Halladay. Apparently Ricciardi is not getting the offers he wants.

This is not surprising considering the offers the Twins got or more importantly didn't get for Johan Santana, before settling on the Mets offer. However, the Blue Jays need to trade Halladay now as Buster Olney also says, because his trade value will go down after the season since teams will only have him for one season (see Santana above). The fact is that when J.P. Ricciardi made that announcement that they would look at offers for Halladay, he made his own bed. If he doesn't trade Halladay now and waits till the off season, he will be offered less and the result will be a deal that may likely end his tenure as Jays GM. Ricciardi made the bed, now he has to lay in it.

If Heyman's report is true, the GM who really needs his head examined is Omar Minaya. Now, yes the Mets this season, even with Halladay, are not going anywhere most likely. However, there are other factors to consider.

1) N ext season, you will have a healthy Reyes, Beltran and most likely a better hitting David Wright back. Put Halladay and Santana together, and you have the most dominant 1-2 punch rotation in the majors.

2) Halladay keeps the Mets fan base together. Can't stress that fact enough. Brand new ballpark that the Mets want to get revenue back for and right now, due to the Mets struggling play, there are lots of seats available on Stubhub and other ticket sites for Mets games. If the Mets don't make any deals at the deadline and wave the white flag, the Mets ticket base will dwindle for this season and next, especially with this economy. A Halladay deal tells the fans "The Mets still care and want a winning product". Mets fans will be more likely to stick with the ship.

3) Citi Field is a pitchers park. I repeat CITI FIELD IS A PITCHER'S PARK! Why not get the best pitcher in the game and use the park to your advantage?! Think about this, the Mets offense is terrible. Yet Johan Santana is 11-7. Compare that with Cliff Lee who has similar numbers on the Indians, a team with a better offense, yet he is 5-9. That's because CITI FIELD IS A PITCHER'S PARK! Duh!

4) Halladay makes the staff better. Think about it. Halladay is your #2 starter. That makes Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine (if healthy) your backend starters. Pelfrey is not a #2 and right now he is facing other teams #2 starters. It's not a good matchup. Make him the #3 or #4 and it's a more favorable matchup.

5) I have seen enough of Niese, martinez and Parnell to say that of the three, Niese is probably the best of the bunch. He might be good, but definitely not on a level for Halladay for years to come and still hasn't cracked the Mets rotation this season, despite how mediocre its been. When Martinez played with the Mets, Keith Hernandez consistently commented (probably to the detriment of Martinez' trade value) that Martinez can not turn around on fastballs consistently with the stance he has. Third, Parnell is a work in progress. He might be good someday, but he was originally a starter in the minors who the Mets moved to the bullpen. That might be a signal. Finally, Ruben Tejada is in Double A. He is hitting for a decent average and has shown the ability to take a walk and yes he turns 20 years old on September 1st. But he doesn't have a lot of pop yet nor does he have big numbers in the steals department (8 stolen bases in ten chances).

6) Based on #5 above and how the Santana deal worked out, how can you not trade for Halladay?

Anyway, the Phillies minor league system is better than the Mets and their starting rotation numbers are terrible (#25 in the major leagues). Cole Hamels has been a disappointment, Jamie Moyer is starting to show his age, Joe Blanton is well Joe Blanton, a decent back end of the rotation guy and Rodrigo Lopez was picked up off the scrap heap. Only J.A. Happ has been very good consistently for the Phillies. Add Halladay and you're talking a legitimate chance to repeat as World Series Champs. It's a no brainer for the Phillies to add a guy who throws 200+ quality innings the past three years and in the past four years is 63-26 on a team with a middle of the row offense (Blue Jays are 7th in the AL in runs scored). Put him on the Phils, 2o wins for sure!

The sleeper team in the Halladay Sweepstakes is the Yankees. I know they are going good right now having won seven in a row and Brian Cashman has publicly stated that he won't be trading any prospects at the deadline. However, if the Phillies won't part with Drabek, if the Mets don't wake up out of their coma and Boston stands Pat, the Yankees might come in and swoop in and take Halladay for 75 cents on the dollar. They know that their back end of the rotation has struggled with Andy Pettitte, Wang and to a lesser extent Joba Chamberlain (hello Sergio Mitre). They have the minor league system to offer prospects and they can swap a good young outfielder like Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera and have the Jays include Vernon Wells in the deal. I could see that happen.

Anyway, the time to trade Halladay is now. Ricciardi has to live up to his own words. Now will he pull the trigger or wait till he finds out he has less ammunition in the off season. Lets hope for his sake, he shoots first and asks questions later. Otherwise, others will be asking questions later.

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