By Jake McCormick
The chances of someone landing Toronto Blue Jay Roy Halladay before last month’s MLB trading deadline were 1 on 146,107,961. That’s one point higher in odds than getting all five numbers right in the Wisconsin Powerball lottery. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating J.P. Riccardi’s demand of a “Wow!” package for a two-year lease on one of the game’s premier pitchers, but most front offices had to feel like they had a better chance at winning the lottery than getting Halladay for anything less than their top pitching and hitting prospects, and Megan Fox.
With only a month left in the 2009 regular season, the true contenders are starting to put everything together for the final push while the stragglers are left to fend for themselves. Now we’re left with a lot of “what-ifs” from teams like the Brewers, Cubs, Twins, and Mariners. In the spirit of hypothetical situations and video game-created All Star teams, I’m writing a two part series (one for the American League, one for the National League) on what would’ve happened if Halladay had been traded to 12 teams a month ago and the packages each team needed to put together to bring the ace onto American soil.
Editor’s note: We’re also going to assume that the teams have pre-Trading Deadline lineups and prospects.
Toronto Blue Jay demands:
Obviously pitching is a big need for an organization that has a few promising prospects mixed with oft-injured hurlers. The Blue Jays also could use some outfield help after they showed the underachieving Alex Rios the door and Vernon Wells continues to compliment Alfonso Soriano as the AL’s biggest outfield bust and untradeable long-term contract signed in the past three years. Toronto has some budding talent in 2B Aaron Hill, DH Adam Lind, and top prospect Travis Snyder, but the left side of their infield isn’t exactly a long-term fixture, and like almost every other team, they could use a catcher of the future.
Boston Red Sox
RHP Michael Bowden (4-6, 3.19 ERA, 84 K in AAA)
P Clay Buchholz (2-3, 5.02 ERA, 27 K in MLB)
RF/CF Josh Reddick (.252 BA, 13 HR, 33 RBI in AA and AAA)
SS Yamaico Navarro (.233 BA, 5 HR, 26 RBI in A and AA)
Buchholz has shown signs of brilliance over his short career, including besting Halladay in a duel last Wednesday. He would be the centerpiece of the deal because he’s on the cusp of putting it all together and hasn’t even reached the age where he can legally rent a car. Think: Roy Halladay
The Sox would be forced to part with their top pitching prospect in Bowden, who isn’t a strikeout pitcher and would at best become a No. 2 starter. But he lacks a history of injuries and works both sides of the plate with a low-90s fastball and good curve. Think: Joe Blanton
Double-A outfielder Josh Reddick has good speed, a strong arm, and is a work in progress with his plate discipline, but his bat speed helps offset that deficiency. The guy can definitely hit. Think: Matt Kemp
Navarro can play shortstop, third base, and second base effectively, as he has a strong arm and good range. He’s a bulky guy with a decent bat. Think: Juan Uribe
If I’m the Blue Jays, I pull the trigger. None of these players costs you anything, and you get two MLB-ready pitchers and an outfielder that’s a year away from the Bigs.
CF Carlos Gomez (.242 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI in MLB)
RHP Shooter Hunt (0-5, 10.19 ERA, 26 K in Rookie and A)
LHP Glen Perkins (6-7, 5.89, 45 K in MLB)
OF Aaron Hicks (.243 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI in A)
This would be GM Bill Smith’s chance to totally redeem himself for the terribly unbalanced Johan Santana trade. Gomez continues to be a work in progress and the Twins have Denard Span turning into the player they thought Gomez would be at this point. Think: Dexter Fowler
The Twins have always filled their rotation with command pitchers that throw with a lot of movement in their repertoire. Hunt does not fit the bill. He walks a lot of guys, but throws the ball like it’s coming out of a potato cannon. Think: Ubaldo Jimenez
Perkins has been unable to fight the injury bug, but has had points where it looks like he’s figured out his stuff. He would be a nice MLB-ready compliment as a control pitcher to the fireballer Hunt. Think: Wandy Rodriguez
Hicks is the top outfield prospect in the Twins’ organization. The guy can run, hit, patiently wait for a good pitch, and can actually pitch himself. He was called the best high school prospect in the Los Angeles area since Darryl Strawberry. As long as he doesn’t follow the path through white snow as Strawberry did, he’s going to be an impact player. Think: Justin Upton
I would absolutely pull the trigger if I’m Toronto. You may not be getting ace-quality pitchers, but all four of those guys bring completely different skill sets to the table. That’s enough for me.
RHP Neftali Feliz (1 SV, 0.55 ERA, 21 K in MLB)
OF Julio Borbon (.415 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 9 SB in MLB)
C Taylor Teagarden (.194 BA, 6 HR, 22 RBI in MLB)
Feliz is an absolute stud ace in the making and the Rangers have a deep enough farm system that they could handle losing their top pitching prospect that already has made a splash in the majors, with a 0.55 ERA in 16 IP. Think: Felix Hernandez
Borbon has also made it to the big league club this year, and is batting at a .478 clip. He is fast and can obviously hit, but he needs to work on his defensive skills. That’s no reason to turn him away in a trade though. Think: Kenny Lofton
Teagarden is also currently with Texas, and is a very good defensive catcher that can hit for power but whiffs a lot. The Rangers’ package would give the Blue Jays three players just touching the start of their big league careers. Think: Bengie Molina
This is the easiest one to take if I were Riccardi. All three guys have loads of potential and fill long-term needs. And did I mention they’re MLB-ready, and cheap?
LF Michael Saunders (.253 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI in 74 AB in MLB)
RHP Phillippe Aumont (2-6, 3.88 ERA, 59 K in A+ and AA)
RHP Michael Pineda (4-1, 2.70 ERA, 40 K in A+ and Rookie League)
Saunders is currently on the Mariners roster, and is performing like a rookie should. He’s can run well, hit, hit for power, fielder, and throw very well. The only downside is his strikeout potential, but that can be corrected given his natural-born talent. Think: Left-handed Ryan Braun
Aumont is the Mariners top pitching prospect, with a fastball that gets up to 95 MPH and a high arching curve. He is developing a changeup and is still young, but if he can put those three pitches together, the upside might be too much to pass up if you’re Toronto. He’s also faced MLB hitters in the World Baseball Classic, and made Kevin Youkilis, David Wright, and Curtis Granderson look foolish. And he’s 20 years old. Think: Matt Cain
Pineda is a big, skinny guy (6’5”, 185 lbs) and has consistently performed well in the minor leagues. He throws a good fastball, a very good slider, and average changeup. But his ability to control all of those pitches are what makes him a dangerous opponent. Think: Jered Weaver
Chicago White Sox
LHP Aaron Poreda (1-0, 2.45 ERA, 12 K in MLB)
3B Gordon Beckham (.284 BA, 8 HR, 47 RBI in MLB)
RHP Levi Maxwell (4-14, 4.86 ERA, 38 K in A+)
Beckham has proven he can flat out rake to all fields at the big league level, and would undoubtedly be the focal point of this trade. He is till adjusting defensively as a third baseman, but considering what he’s done at the plate that’s no reason to sit him down. Think: Scott Rolen
At 6’6” 240 lbs Poreda is a real man, and he’s left handed. He throws a mid to upper-90s fastball with lots of movement, and is continuing to develop his slider and changeup. Poreda has already proven his worth as he was part of the trade that brought Jake Peavy to the South Side. Think: Lefty Josh Johnson
Maxwell is a work in progress and has excellent control over his fastball, which runs in the low to mid 90s. His off-speed pitches need work, but if he can command all his pitches even if they aren’t lights out, he’ll easily find a spot in a big league rotation. Think: Derek Lowe
If Beckham and Poreda are in the deal, that’s enough to seal it for Riccardi. Both are so highly regarded and MLB-ready that it would only make sense to take the trade if it was offered.
Those are just five offers in the American League that Riccardi couldn’t refuse. If I’m any of these teams, I would be just as hesitant as they were to part with potential future stars. But given what happened with CC Sabathia last year and the Brewers, would it really hurt any of these teams that much? Stay tuned for the National League version of hypothetical Halladay trades.
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