Roy Halladay to the NL Was the Best Thing to Happen to Yankees and Red Sox
The title to my original piece was "Roy Halladay Should NOT Be in the Yankees' 2010 Plans." However, as usual, the thoughts are in my head and in my notebook (with generous amounts of information and facts to back up my thoughts), but the time to get it all down was non-existent.
Then with the whopping four-team, 175-player trade that went down last week, I thought that I had to get something down.
Halladay being traded outside of the American League was the best thing to happen to the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
But not only because each team does not have to face him three or four times per season, even though, historically, King Roy has performed well against the Yankees and, more recently, the Red Sox. And not even because the Red Sox were worried that the Yankees were going to get him or that the Yankees were worried the Red Sox were going to trade for him.
This was good because if either the Yankees or Red Sox had traded for Halladay, then both teams would have had to empty the farm system of ready-to-star major league talent. And despite the seemingly deep pockets of both franchises, both teams need to keep developing younger, more cost-effective talent to compete.
Roy Halladay is one of the top five pitchers in baseball, he's very durable, and he's tough-minded with a bulldog attitude on the mound. He will be good for 30+ starts over the next five years, as his mechanics are phenomenal. These strong mechanics put less wear on his elbow and shoulder ligaments.
Contrary to popular negative perceptions on pitch counts and innings totals, mechanics are the primary determinant of how durable a pitcher will be. The only instance in which Halladay missed time due to arm issues was back in 2004 when he experienced shoulder soreness. He stopped lifting weights in the offseason and the shoulder issues were gone.
Since his breakout season in 2002 at the age of 25 (Joba's age during the full 2011 season ), King Roy has amassed a record of 130-59 with a 3.13 ERA over 1710 innings and won the AL Cy Young award in 2003. That season saw "Doc" at his best, going 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA and an incredible 6.38 SO/BB ratio.
That solid control has been the key to Halladay's success. While allowing a measly 8.56 H/9 during that eight-year span, he also has only allowed 1.6 BB/9 for a WHIP of 1.19. That walk rate is Curt Schilling-like, or even Greg Maddux-like.
Notice the trend of winning pitchers and low walk rates? There is no indication that Halladay is going to decline in this category. His season last year produced better numbers at 1.3 BB/9. He has successfully converted from a power pitcher to become more of a ground ball threat, and he always seems to hit his location when he needs an out.
Also contrary to popular sabermetrician negativity, pitchers can pitch effectively while not striking out hitters. Getting the baseball on the non-fat part of the bat is an art form, and Halladay has that mastered.
But the New York Yankees (specifically Brian Cashman) showed a couple of seasons ago with Johan Santana that they will not pay top prospects for top talent, and then pay an exorbitant amount of money, too. The money is not the issue as they passed on Santana, but then signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira the next offseason. But Cashman will not offer up top talent no matter who that player was, even Halladay.
And neither will Theo Epstein of the Red Sox. If Theo really wanted Halladay, he would have had to give up promising starter Clay Buchholz, probably High A minor league pitcher Casey Kelly (many scouts think he could enter the Sox pen in 2010), and maybe OF/DH prospect Ryan Westmoreland and/or 1B prospect Lars Anderson. Remember, this was before the Jays made the Halladay trade and did not yet have Brett Wallace, their new 1B of the future, in their system.
From the Yankees, the Blue Jays were seeking top hitting prospect Jesus Montero and either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes. Also, after seeing the Yankees give up three Major League-level players for Curtis Granderson, new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos probably would also demand AAA starter Zach McAllister or a younger left handed pitching stud like Manuel Baneulos.
And for both the Red Sox and the Yankees, that is too much to give up, even for Halladay.
Epstein is adamant about not giving up Kelly or Westmoreland, and he knows he might need Buchholz for more offense down the road, while Cashman usually trades secondary talent for needs but rarely ponies up stud prospects (see Johan Santana).
After trading lots of players for Victor Martinez, Epstein is also learning this tactic. Instead of Halladay, Theo tried for Bay and then Holliday, and settled for John Lackey, who is somewhat of a Halladay-lite. All three of those guys were free agents, where it is just money, no players. If Epstein will never give up Kelly, then San Diego Padre first baseman Adrian Gonzalez also will never get to Boston.
While the Yankees have a deep farm system with influential players at each level, the Red Sox don't have many future impact players in their system. In Triple A, the Sox have pitchers Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden. In Double A, there is Lars Anderson and OFs Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick, while in Single A, there are the aforementioned Kelly and Westmoreland.
While the Sox have continuously paid over slot for amateur talent, they really don't have much in the system, ready to contribute. Most of their top guys are former high school kids and are still in the 19-22 age range. And if they trade away the few remaining players that other teams covet, they will have to pay top dollar for future players.
While the core players, such as Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, etc., are signed for several more seasons, the Red Sox need to replace (or re-sign at insanely high prices) Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, David Ortiz, Victor Martinez, and JD Drew over the next year or two. That is a lot of offense to replace. Even the Red Sox don't have that much money to throw around. They need to keep those young prospects in their system.
The same goes for the Yankees. They have a few important contracts to rework soon, including Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but it is not as severe as the Red Sox's need to replenish. Even Cashman has had "budget" the last two seasons.
That is why the Red Sox, and to a lesser extent, the Yankees, both needed to refuse to trade for Roy Halladay. Even though each team knows they are in direct competition with each other, they also know there is a finite amount of resources available. Each team needs to be prudent with who they sign long term, and must continue to supplant their roster with more younger, homegrown talent.
Trading for Halladay would not just cost resources now (via prospects and cash), but down the road when more high priced free agents need to be signed because they traded their best impact replacements.
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