By Jake McCormick
Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part series looking at hypothetical trades for Blue Jay ace Roy Halladay, who would only be traded from Toronto if GM J.P. Ricciardi received a “wow” offer.
The overall minor league talent is lower in the National League, but more than a few teams could’ve put packages together with players with big league experience. Personally that’s more enticing to me because you know more about what you’re getting in a trade, but given Halladay’s aversion to hitting it would’ve been interesting to see if Riccardi would’ve followed up on his word.
Kyle Drabek (12-3, 3.19 ERA, 150 K in Advanced A and AA)
J.A Happ (10-3, 2.63 ERA, 97 K in MLB)
Dominic Brown (.304 BA, 14 HR, 61 RBI in Advanced A and AA)
The Philadelphia Phillies were the team closest to acquiring Halladay, but balked at the Blue Jay asking price of the three players above. Drabek underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, but he remains the Phillies’ top pitching prospect. His fastball registers between 88 and 93 MPH on a regular basis, but his curve has been described as “filthy,” which is my favorite descriptive pitching word. Think: Yovani Gallardo
J.A. Happ has been the most pleasant pitching surprise for the Phillies and has out-performed supposed ace Cole Hamels since filling the void left by a guy that made me ask “how the hell is he still pitching?” That’s Chan Ho Park, if you’re keeping score. Happ throws a fastball similar to Drabek in speed, but has a naturally deceptive motion that can cause problems for both righties and lefties. His changeup has worked especially well for him this year as well. Think: Mark Buehrle
Brown is the Phillies’ top hitting prospect, and is well on his way to becoming a five-tool outfielder. He has good patience for such a young hitter, can definitely steal bases, and is working on developing his power. Brown is already hitting close to .300 on a regular basis and would be ready to contribute to a big league club by the middle of next season at the least. Think: Shane Victorino
I’d do it faster than Usain Bolt. The Blue Jays would get the Phillies’ top two prospects, and a guy that has overachieved. Of course, the Phillies already have this year’s CC Sabathia in Cliff Lee, so this trade is definitely one they aren’t losing sleep over.
Josh Vitters (2.83 BA, 18 HR, 63 RBI in Advanced A)
Andrew Cashner (2-4, 2.80 ERA, 73 K in A and AA)
Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 7.81 ERA, 17 K in MLB)
Ryan Flaherty (.278 BA, 20 HR, 79 RBI in A)
Vitters is the top prospect in the Cubs’ organization, and he can rake with the best of them. Speaking of, rake is my favorite description for a good hitter. Vitters is still young and will take some more time to develop patience at the plate and his defensive game, but the Cubs are sitting pretty with this heir apparent to Aramis Ramirez at third. Think: Pablo Sandoval
Samardzija doesn’t look like he’s going the way of Drew Henson, Chris Weinke, or John Elway, which is a good sign for the Cubs. He has had his fair share of struggles in the MLB, but it’s hard to ignore his upper 90s fastball and low 80s changeup mixed with a good splitter and decent slider. Think: Justin Verlander
Cashner’s scouting report reads a lot like Rick Vaughn’s in that he can really bring it but has problems with his command. “Wild Thing” is a very reasonable nickname for him, and his slider is very similar to current Cub Carlos Marmol. Cashner may break through as a power-armed reliever, because his control is just too inconsistent to be a starter right now. Think: Marmol
Flaherty is currently a shortstop, but may switch to second or third base because of his defensive ineptitude. However, he has above average power, possesses good patience, and can steal a base or two. He also has a ways to go before making it to the Bigs, but it’ll happen at some point. Think: Aaron Hill
I may be a little hesitant at first, but I’d take it. This basically clears out the entire cream of the Cub crop in Chicago’s farm system, but the Cubs have always been a big market, win-now team. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rickett family approaches these types of trades in the future.
Alcides Escobar (.286 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI in MLB)
Mat Gamel (.239 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI in MLB)
Manny Parra (9-10, 6.66 ERA, 98 K in MLB)
Cole Gillespie (.275 BA, 12 HR, 62 RBI in AAA)
Escobar is the Brewers’ top overall prospect, and has already made a decent impact as a mid-August call-up for Milwaukee. He is a great defensive shortstop, and has the ability to be a strong leadoff hitter for years to come with his speed and ability to simply make contact. Think: Omar Vizquel
Gamel doesn’t possess extremely high power attributes but can make contact with almost any pitch. His wrists are so quick that it allows him an extra half second of pitch recognition before he has to start his swing. Gamel was introduced in a Prince Fielder-like way and got just a taste of the Show, but he will surely be a lineup fixture in 2010. Think: Freddy Sanchez with more power
Parra has had more than a few “D’oh!” moments this year and has issues with his confidence. However, his skill set projects as a top of the rotation lefty, as long as he doesn’t think too much when he gets rocked. When/if Parra ever figures out he has a mid to upper 90s fastball, a great splitter, developing changeup, and sweeping curve, he’ll be a dangerous opponent. Think: Ted Lilly
Gillespie would be a good toss in for the Blue Jays because of the logjam that is the Milwaukee outfield, and he is a good hitter with decent power. Gillespie has surprised a few people in the Milwaukee farm system with his work ethic and high production despite projections as an average player. He could be a dark horse future starter, a la Nelson Cruz. Think: Jason Bay
Although the Brewers can’t offer Toronto a slew of great pitching prospects, they have always had enough good hitters to make up for it. I would pull the trigger because all the players are MLB ready, or very close to it.
St. Louis Cardinals
Colby Rasmus (.255 BA, 14 HR, 44 RBI in MLB)
Brett Wallace (.292 BA, 18 HR, 59 RBI in AA and AAA)
Chris Perez (1-1, 3.53 ERA, 52 K in MLB)
Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.62 ERA, 8 K in MLB)
Rasmus has proven he can play at the Major League level and leads all NL rookies in home runs and RBIs. His average isn’t too high, but he can chase down any ball in center and looks naturally comfortable in the position. Rasmus is well on his way to a successful big league career, and will improve as he gets older. Think: Mike Cameron
Wallace was traded to Oakland as the centerpiece of the Matt Holliday trade, which tells you how highly regarded he is as a hitter. His fielding is very forgettable and he doesn’t possess Evan Longoria power, but Wallace will be an above .300 hitter as a regular player and finds ways to get on base. Think: Pablo Sandoval (Yes, I used him twice. Sue me.)
Perez simply throws gas (another favorite description of mine). He has seen action as a reliever for the Cardinals in 2008 and 2009, and is projected to become a solid closer someday if he can get his command under control. If he learns how to harness his power, he’ll be a nice Neo going into the last inning of a one, two, or three run game. Think: Matt Capps
Garcia isn’t going to be a dominating starter, but he has the makeup to become a solid No. 4 or 5 in a big league rotation. His fastball clocks in at the low to mid-90s with good sink and his curveball is very good as long as he can command it. He also throws a decent changeup, which will be essential if he maximizes his potential as a starter. Think: Joel Piniero
This is the first trade of the 10 I’m analyzing that I would not do if I were J.P. Ricciardi. The Cardinals don’t have a lot of depth in their farm system, and have already traded away two of the four players on this list for Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. There just isn’t a strong enough hype surrounding these prospects.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw (8-7, 2.94, 164 K in MLB)
Ivan DeJesus Jr. (10 AB in Rookie level)
James McDonald (4-4, 4.13 ERA, 38 K in MLB)
Kershaw is clearly on track to become the ace of the Dodger staff and a great left handed compliment to Chad Billingsley. He’s already proven he can deal at the highest level on a playoff-caliber team. Oh, and he’s 21. Think: Johan Santana
DeJesus has an approach at the plate that most MLB players don’t learn until they get to the Show. Although there are some questions about his work ethic and he suffered a broken leg in spring training, but his ceiling as a contact hitter is pretty high. He is considered a good defender, but might make a switch to second because of his pension for throwing errors. Think: Miguel Tejada
It’s a good thing that McDonald’s fastball is supposedly his worst pitch, as it tops out at 92 MPH, and is still considered a massive talent. I can personally attest to watching his curveball fall from 12-to-6, and his changeup makes the fastball look so much faster than it is. McDonald has pitched out of the Dodger bullpen for most of the season, but will eventually fill in the No. 3 or 4 starter spot. Think: James Shields
If Los Angeles were willing to give up Kershaw, I would do this trade in an instant. Adding McDonald and DeJesus to the deal would only sweeten it for Toronto.
Most of these trades sound interesting, and all of these teams could use another ace. It’s debatable whether or not Halladay would’ve performed like Sabathia from last year and Cliff Lee this year, as he registered an ERA of 4.75 in August. In retrospect, it might be worth it for teams like the Brewers and Cubs to hold onto their young players and wait until next year. It’ll be interesting to see what the trade market for Halladay is this offseason, if there is one, and which of these teams would be willing to bet the farm on a former Cy Young winner. Until then, Halladay remains a Blue Jay because of his team’s extremely high demands. As James Bond said in one of his lesser movie appearances, the world is not enough.
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