Friday, 22 August 2008

Manny v. Holliday?

In addition to being a cyborg sent back from the future to kill John Connor while hitting .340 for the Rockies on a yearly basis, Matt Holliday is a Big Scary Bat that's probably going to be on the trading block this winter as our confrere at DJF, Parkes, so kindly brought to our attention the other day.

We've got the ball rolling about on off-season roster moves and you the fans want to talk about this, so let's talk about this...

Some factoids, in bullet points:

* Holliday is under contract for 2009 at the modest price of $13.5 million, which might not even be enough to bring in one of the "B" DHs like Jim Thome or Jason Giambi this offseason

* Scott Boras is Holliday's agent and they will be looking for a "franchise player"-type deal the Jays cannot afford (because of Vernon Wells...), so it's one and out if he is acquired via trade

* Holliday, 29 to start next season, has been OPS-ing well over .900 on the road this year for those who dismiss him as a Coors' Field creation. His cumulative OPS+, park neutral, is about 150 over the past three years. That translates into Canadian.

* He's also probably the most slam dunk Type A potential free agent you can imagine, and if he walks at the end of 2009, there will be sweet compensatory draft picks. Sweeter than the caramel at the centre of a Skor bar.

* Travis Snider might be ready for spring 2009, but will almost certainly be a more polished hitter after a full year at AAA, pencilled in for full-time ML duties in 2010

Do you see where I'm going with this? While it's "only cash" to sign a free agent DH, you do end up giving up a compensatory draft pick along with laying your money on the table. And let's not forget that the sum you pay out for a free agent is going to be millions in excess of the cost of Holliday... for an inferior hitter who can't play defense, but that's another argument. So you do lose "something" by going with a free agent rather than trade.

If you do trade for Holliday instead you don't lose the pick in addition to gaining another one when he walks at the end of the year. You do lose prospects in the trade package that brings him in, but you'd at least be setting yourself up nicely to bring in equivilant talent in the next draft.

What would the Rockies be looking for as a trade package? Reasonable expectations would probably be something along the lines of what Pirates' GM Neal Huntington got in return for Jason Bay at the deadline. I know Bay's not the same calibre of hitter as Holliday, but he was controllable for 1 years + 2 months at the time of the deal whereas it's only one year for Holliday. Those prospects who went to Steeltown again? Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, Andy Laroche, and Bryan Morris.

Laroche was/is a blue chipper who became the Buc's starting third baseman, Hansen is a non-descript reliever who has shown little of note in 2+ partial seasons in the bigs, Brandon Moss is looking like a more-than-serviceable 4th OF (no offense there, you get plenty of ABs in that role in the NL), and Morris is a 21-year-old reliever in A ball whose a long way off. Essentially what you're talking about here is a 4 for 1 prospect package made up of one "A" level talent and 3 guys you'd be charitable to call Bs.

The Rox will be impolitely rebuffed if they ask for Travis Snider, so there's no point even mentioning him here. I think I'd also assume the Lind is off table as well after earning himself a permament spot on the 25-man roster.

The Rox greatest need for 2009 is, of course, pitching, while they'd probably also like to upgrade at 2B and would likely be interested in an OF to take Holliday's place. I would also note that their only reliable lefty in the pen, Brian Fuentes, is likely to depart via free agency. A guy like Brian Tallet would not be useless to them.

I'd reckon that if they really want to seriously enter into negotiations with the Rockies on Holliday, the Jays have to be willing to entertain a package centred around either Scott Campbell or Brett Cecil. Those are real, legitimate blue chippers and you're not going to reel in an elite talent like Holliday without sacrificing one of them. The other 3 names you add on are interchangeable, but we could live without arms like Davis Romero, Brad Mills, or pretty much any other pitcher in the system. Major leaguers Jason Frasor and Brian Tallet are not useless, though they're going to be redundant here in 2009.

You might be thinking that Cecil or Campbell + is just too much to stomach for one year of Matt Holliday, and if that's your opinion you're entitled to it. I disagree. But keep in mind that Manny might well prove cost prohibitive (and he's 37 going into next year) and also ask yourself whether *declining, high-injury risk* sluggers like Giambi or Thome would even entertain the idea of coming to Toronto after what happened to Frank Thomas. Hell, the Mariners might even throw a wack of cash at Raul Ibanez to stick around, taking JP's favourite C-lister off the market.

Basically what I'm saying is that it's a big assumption that the most coveted free agent DHs are even signable and trade might be the only means of getting the bat that makes the Jays really and truly competive in 2009. Or you can just batten down the hatchs and wait for 2010. That's not a horrible idea, either.

Looking at the big picture, I'm not at all averse to making a major push for Holliday and would probably prefer that to seeking a FA solution. Personally, I think the risk/cost of going after one of the elderly free agent DHs is probably greater than that of selling off one of the organizations top 3 prospects and add-ons (who can be replaced with compensatory picks) for a year of Matt Holliday. The 60 point OPS+ boost out of the DH hole you get from a player of Holliday's calibre gives this offense a pulse and I don't feel as confident predicting the same level of production from Manny even, much less Thome or Giambi. And Holliday is cheaper, too, which leaves a bit of cash left over to splash out on a SS.

Also, we'd get a year of JaysTalk callers referring to Roy Holliday and Matt Halladay.

He who dares, wins, fellas.

-- Johnny Was


Jays2010 said...

I'd still take Manny over Holliday, but obviously the chance of getting Manny is slim. Considering that the last time we had 2 first round picks and a supplemental pick we drafted Ahrens, JPA and Cecil, I'd have the guts to trade for Holliday; I would not trade Cecil, but I'd be open to trading Campbell, Tallet, D Romero and even Litsch. I still think it would be smarter to go the Texas Ranger route with Josh Hamilton and go after a less proven slugger; how bout Ryan Ludwick? The Cards wil have an outfield jam when Colby rasmus is ready and they need pitching and maybe a 2B; they also have wanted a lefty reliever all yr; how bout Litsch, Campbell, Tallet and D romero for Ludwick?

The Southpaw said...

The only flaw I have with the comparison to Bay is the fact that the Pirates needed depth in their system. If they wanted, they could have gotten an "impact" type package, AKA a Travis Snider type player and nothing else.

Instead, knowing the Pirates had little "depth" in their system, they acquired quantity over quality. Morris is supposedly the key to that deal, and LaRoche is pretty solid.

So while I'd love to offer a "quantity" type package to the Rockies for Holliday, I'm 110% sure that O'Dowd, the Rockies' GM, is looking for a quality offer.

I don't see him making that trade to us unless at least two of the following are involved: McGowan (only if he recovers, of course), Marcum, Snider, Lind, Cecil, JP Arencibia. And while I'm sure that Tallet/Campbell/Cecil for Holliday is a great deal for us, Dowd would probably just hang up.

Sorry to be a buzzkill. Holliday is a great player, and we definetly need a slugging DH. I'd rather get Burrell personally, but Holliday is pretty damn good.


The Southpaw said...

I don't mean to be dismissive, but Ludwick will be 30 going into next year and has no track record to speak of. I think Litsch alone is pretty much where you start the conversation on him.

The thing about Manny... under no circumstances would it be wise to go 4 years, which he says he's looking for. Alot of people thought he was headed into decline after a subpar 2007 and I wonder how much he's running on adrenaline right now. I would be chuffed about bringing him in for 2 years, 3 not so much, 4, hells no!

The point I was making with Holiday is that it's quick and dirty: one elite slugger in his prime for a year, lose prospects/gain picks, fill the most glaring hole in the offense and buy time for Snider. I think it's a sensible argument.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

no risk, no reward, i understand that...

what about bringing back delgado for a year, instead of dealing cecil or campbell?

it's time for delgado to come home, and send us to the promised land...

The Southpaw said...


I don't know how you can look at the Rockies pitching this year and not think there's a case to be made for a "quantity" package. They way they've aggressively promoted Greg Reynolds and Franklin Morales pretty clearly demonstrates how thin they are so far as minor league pitching is concerned.

Cecil would instantly become their best pitching prospect and Davis Romero would crack their rotation fairly easily in 2009. That's without mentioning the two other add-ons you'd include with them. After the soon-to-depart Fuentes and Taylor Buchholz, their bullpen is a shambles and there's no help on the way from the system in the short term. I would think that a shrewd O'Dowd would recognize that his team can strong arm the opposition all it wants, but needs to be at least in the middle of the pack for pitching if it wants to make another run like 2007.

Whether they perceive pitching to be a source of weakness is something that is certainly up for debate and you may well be right that they'll go for one stud prospect rather than a wider package.

In any event, I figure this is all academic and JP will go after Raul Ibanez, forcing me to tear my hair out and move to a Himalayan monestary.


The Southpaw said...


It's more finger-crossing in 2009 if you go with one of those aged DH types who's about to fall of a cliff any time now. I really recoil from the thought of repeating the Frank Thomas experiment.

Holliday = one year rental of an elite slugger in his prime.

Whoever the actual names are to go over--if Snider's not included--I think you really have to consider that option, the trade one.

O'Dowd doesn't have a huge amount of leverage, either. Everyone knows he can't afford to keep Holliday and you get less by waiting until the deadline to move him.

The Bosox are set at LF/DH and won't be in the running, while Cashman (if he's back in NY) showed a reluctance to deal prospects for Johan Santana and the Yankees are jammed up with DH/LF types in Posada/Nady/Matsui/Damon and probably aren't in. The Rays could pull off a trade for Holliday pretty easily, but would they feel the need? The Tigers traded away the future last offseason, the Chisox are a bit thin on prospects now, too. The Twins just wouldn't. The Mets don't seem to have the stuff, neither do the Phillies or Cubs. The Cards OF is already full up. The Dodgers are notoriously difficult to trade with and have an OF logjam of their own. The Deebax might be able to swing something, etc.

I'm just saying that the entire MLB is going to be competing for Holliday's services. And we could put together a competitive package better than the compensatory picks they'd get by hanging on to him.


The Southpaw said...

I'm not necessarily carrying a brief against Holliday but a few misc points:

1. Thome has an option that will vest, h'es not on the market

2. A slugger won't cost us draft picks IF his current team doesn't offer arbitration. That might be the case with Giambi, would seem to be the case with Delgado if the mets decline his option (which I don't think they will)

3. If I were going to give up a high profile young pitcher in a Holliday deal, I'd prefer it to be Purcey over Cecil.

4. If all it took were Campbell to build a deal around I'd be all over that.

5. I covet Manny a great deal but you are right that 4 years is off the table....but I think every GM will feel that way. They will all be offering 2 and the team that gets him will be willing to either go three or make it a relatively reachable vesting option.


Anonymous said...

Litsch, Purcey, Campbell, Tallet, and Adams for Matt Holliday. Do it. Picking up Holliday would give the Jays money to spend on a back-end innings eater to fill out the rotation with Halladay Marcum McGowan/Janssen/Cecil. If Holliday can be acquired without giving up Snider, JPA, or Cecil, it NEEDS to be done.

Anonymous said...

I like it a lot. I think this is my favorite option this off season unless they can get Manny for 2 years and it's in his contract not to be a d-bag.

In fact, I've had this question in my head for a while that I'd like to as you guys: should we, as fans, at least DISCUSS whether or not we want a personality like Manny on the Jays? Or does his offense production put even a conversation about it out the window?

(I'm asking here because at DJF I'm sure I would be called a "dumb fuck" by commentors for asking if we should ask and Wilner doesn't believe in character...)

Great work, by the way. I found this post very helpful.

The Southpaw said...

What I meant by quantity was that the Pirates had absolutely nothing, They need bodies.

It's different with the Rockies. They need quality pitching. And every report I've read on how Dowd values his me, you'll be paying a shitload in terms of prospects. He doesn't want quantity for Holliday - he wants quality players, and multiple quality players at that.

You're going to have to give up way more talent than it's worth. It's easy to say give up X, Y, and Z, but at the end of the day the Rockies are going to ask for 2 (and I'd bet 3) of any of the names I listed earlier: McGowan, Marcum, Snider, Lind, Cecil, JP Arencibia...

To think otherwise is wrong IMO. It's a good idea to look at players other than Manny, and for that the post was real good. But there's no way, no way in hell we get Holliday for anything other than the top tier guys.

Read up on all the articles on what he wanted for Fuentes - and just imagine what he wants for Holliday. I'd be absolutely amazed if Holliday went for anything less than 3-4 absolute stud prospects.


Anonymous said...

This is one of those 1 decent prospect + crap packages you see on bad fan forums. Also, I don't think anyone considers Campbell an elite prospect--intriguing, and a guy to watch, yes, but not "elite". Cecil is obviously solid, but has he ever even appeared on a single top-100 list, for example? Wouldn't another team be willing to give up more than a B+ pitching prospect and roster filler for Matt Holliday?

This is how I see it--even if you think Davis Romero might make their rotation, how much is that worth to the Rockies in the offseason? Romero seems to be behind guys like Richmond and Parrish on the Jays depthchart and there are 100 such guys available for free every year.

The Southpaw said...


There's no objective means of rating prospects, but for what it's worth, Cecil is the Jays top pitching prospect according to BA and is certain to appear in the top 100 list this winter. He's definitely not a "B+"
pitching prospect, and if you take a look at the numbers you'll see that he tore AA a new one and has held his own in AAA in his age 21 season.

There's alot of hype and perception involved in prospect deals, but I'm sure you'll remember that the Reds could've named their price for Homer Bailey had they been willing to move him after 2006. How much value does Bailey have now?

Anyway, the intention of the piece was more to make the case for exploring a prospect-based trade for Holliday. That, I think, is still a great idea. If the package required to bring him in is greater than the one I've sketched out, then so be it. I was just guessing. Noone knows until JP asks.


Anonymous said...

I was referring to Sickels rankings. He had Cecil as a B+ at the beginning of the season and when he did his review of the list in late July, he said he liked Cecil but he wasn't exactly raving about him. You're probably right that he'll crack the BA top 100, but I'd expect him to be in the lower 1/3 or lower 1/2 at best. That 7 inning no-hitter isn't going to hurt, obviously.

As for the general point of the post, I take your point. Thanks for taking time to respond.