Monday, 15 December 2008

Dealing with Reality

Before I say anything let me doff my cap in the direction of Stoeten at DJF from whom the theme of this post is entirely ripped off. But it's such a very good point that I cannot resist the temptation to wax verbose on the point.

On Friday Uncle Dick made the case for the concept that it's "only fair" that the Jays trade Roy Halladay. His thesis is summed up early on thusly:

the time has come for the Jays to trade Roy Halladay to a contending club and get a combination package of ready-for-prime-time and future players. The current market shows that there are clubs with needs that would be willing to pony up a nice package.

This, of course, has provoked the usually frenzy of fantasy baseball geeks spinning glorious visions of raping competing GM's in a violent and brutal fashion. I've seen deals proposed up to and including Halladay for Prince Fielder AND JJ Hardy. Now, don't get me wrong, I fully support the notion that IF we were ever going to trade Doc (and that only by his request) we should squeeze the very best return possible out of the transaction. But there is a point at which someone has to say, "this is not a video game."

Stoeten's insight was to learn that lesson from the extended soap opera surrounding the availability of Jake Peavy. Now, granted, the analogy is not perfect only in that Peavy will only accept a deal to certain teams. But it's still very very informative.

So, first lets be clear about who we are comparing. Peavy is probably a notch below Doc in sheer ability and results but that's only because of the level of competition. 4 of the last 5 years his ERA has been 2.88 or below and in three of those years his road splits (away from the pitcher's heaven he calls home) were just as good as those in Petco. He will turn 28 early next season and he is signed to a total salary of $60 million over the next 4 years - $78 if the option is picked up.

I won't bother to recite Doc's abilities but he's 4 years older and signed for the same annual rate as Peavy ($15 million) but only for the next two seasons. So, for the acquiring team, relative age and length of contract almost certainly would make Peavy the slightly more appealing target.

Griffin says the current market shows what teams would be willing to pay - and in this he is correct - so exactly how much is that price?

Helpfully, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune had an article Saturday breaking down the failed attempt to send Peavy to the Braves. According to the Krasovic, SS Yunel Escobar and CF Gorkys Hernandez were agreed upon. Beyond that, the Braves were offering SP Jo-Jo Reyes and RP Blaine Boyer. The Padres were asking for those two to be upgraded to SPs Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke (or possibly catching prospect Tyler Flowers as the fourth player).

So what kind of a return is this?

Escobar is a solid young defensively talented shortstop with an above average, but not elite, bat. He's 26 years old and in his second year in the majors. Given relative ages and so forth, he's probably not quite the player Aaron Hill is but they are in the same neighborhood.

Gorkys Hernandez is a speedy outfielder said to have very good tools who played in the lo-A Carolina League as a 20 year old last year and posted a .734 OPS. On Baseball America's newly released Top 10 list, Hernandez is #4. So let's say he's a similar talent to our own Justin Jackson.

Jo-Jo Reyes is a 24 year old LHP who's had two tries at the bigs in Atlanta and hasn't blown anyone away. In 32 starts over two seasons he's posted a 5.94 ERA and has demonstrated control issues. Reyes was a second round draft pick and pitched well in the minors though. Charlie Morton is actually a full year older than Reyes, was a third round pick, and has noteably worse ratios in the minors than Reyes did. He also got 15 unimpressive major league starts in 2008. I assume that the reason both teams prefer Morton has something to do with "stuff."
There's not a Jay who precisely compares to Reyes. The best I can think of is a slightly more advanced Ricky Romero.

Blaine Boyer is a 27 year old RH relief pitcher who threw almost 38 pretty good innings out of the Braves pen in 2005, missed most of 2006 with injury, and has been ordinary since. He was quite good in the first half of 2008 but from July 1 on, his ERA was over NINE. He's a fringe guy, Brian Wolfe is probably better at this point. Jeff Locke was listed by BA as the Braves' #7 prospect. He's a 21 year old LHP who reached Lo-A in 2008.

So, the Braves - who were willing to pay AJ Burnett $16 million a year, don't forget, were willing to pay, at the most, the rough equivalent of Aaron Hill, Justin Jackson, Ricky Romero, and Brian Wolfe for a pitcher with marginally more value than Roy Halladay. And were willing to forgo that deal rather than upgrade their offer.

Now, don't get me wrong, no one has a man crush on Jackson more than me, and I love Aaron Hill to bits....but is THAT the deal that's going to make your mouth water to trade the best player on our team? Is that deal anything like all the Kershaw & Kemp & more speculation that you hear from Jays' fans?

Is THAT what Richard Griffin meant by "a nice package"?

Not from where I sit. Don't get me wrong, if Halladay tells JP that he's not inclined to resign after 2010, I'd listen for the next year and see what I heard. But this whole bullshit about caving in to inevitable mediocrity is just that. But the last word we have from Doc is this:

"There's no chance if I have anything to say about it that I'm going anywhere. I can understand maybe disappointment with the way we're going. But as long as it's up to me, I'm staying."

That's the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned. As long as that remains true, I'm not interested in any deal. Roy Halladay is our George Brett, our Robin Yount, our Cal Ripkin. We have no business even flirting with the idea of dealing him until that opinion changes.



eyebleaf said...

Roy Halladay is our George Brett, our Robin Yount, our Cal Ripkin. We have no business even flirting with the idea of dealing him until that opinion changes.

Amen. I'm sick to death of hearing all this trade Halladay talk already. I can't wait for the season to start. This Jays team won't be as bad as the doomsdayers say.

The Ack said...

Dig it.

A more recent quote from Halladay:

Halladay fits the sexy tag of franchise player, despite talk that the rebuilding Jays should deal him for three or four players.

"Playing my whole career with the same organization is something I'd like to do, something everyone would like to do," Halladay said. "The hard thing is it takes two parties to agree on it."

...from Elliott's column...

The Southpaw said...

A better comparison to a Halladay trade would be Dan Haren rather than Jake Peavy. Everyone knows SD has to trade Peavy, so they can get him for 80/90 cents on the dollar. The Jays aren't in the same situation.

Halladay is underpaid based on his level of play, and he isn't a one year rental. He's coming off a Cy Young caliber season, and is one of the top RH arms in the game.

I don't want to trade Halladay either, but I don't think the Jays can contend next year. I think the priority needs to be signing Halladay to an extension right now, or tell him they're going to trade him. Because they Jays can't risk having Halladay enter 2010 with no contract extension. Then he'd have about as much value as Santana did in his last year as a Twin.

Better to trade a year early than a year late.


Ian H. said...

I've run into WAY too many people lately that are down with this whole "trading Halladay" thing. I think it's because the outlook for 2009 is so bleak, that they're willing to deal away our franchise player. Hell no, he won't go!

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to take one top notch prospect for Halladay and that's it (of course if I could squeeze out some risk high ceiling prospect I would). I would focus more on quality rather than quantity. Teams when they make these types of deals try to patch too many holes rather than secure one potential stud. The centerpiece of the return package is by far the main thing.

The Southpaw said...

I agree entirely with the proposition that an extension becomes a huge priority in this situation.


Torgen said...

I love how Griffin thinks that the team should take the player's career opportunities into account when making decisions, rather than its own success. You know, because players don't have agents or a union to worry about those things.