Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comparing the big pitching trades

The ornately complex four-team transaction that involved two former Cy Young winners and a heap of Grade A prospects finally complete, everybody's in a hurry to declare who won or lost.

Too soon. What we can tell is who got what they wanted, and at first blush everybody involved (with the exception of the Blue Jays) should be pretty happy with the results.

The Jays can't be happy with it because they lost the best pitcher in their 31-season history, Roy Halladay (pictured). They got prospects back — good prospects, to be sure, but prospects nevertheless. The Jays traded Halladay because they are getting more than they would have had they hung on to him for his walk year. It's small comfort.

Seattle gets a year of Cliff Lee to pair up with King Felix Hernandez — and a real clear shot at unseating the Angels in the AL West.

Philladelphia swaps a year of Lee (who wants to hit the open market next winter) for three of Halladay (who was eager to sign an extension and has pitched better than Lee anyway.). They also get some extra cash ($6 million) and lose a little bit overall in the exchange of prospects.

And Oakland wedges itself into the deal at the last minute to swap prospects. Michael Taylor's more useful to the A's than to the Jays, and Brett Wallace fits the Jays needs more than Taylor does.

This makes four trades in two years involving Cy Young winners — Johan Santana from the Twins to the Mets before spring training 2008, CC Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee in midseason 2008, Lee from Cleveland to Philadelphia in midseason 2009, and now the Halladay-Lee megadeal.

Obviously, we don't know how the new trade will work out. If Kyle Drabek and Wallace live up to the hype and Halladay breaks down, Toronto can wind up looking pretty good; if Phillippe Aumont turns into a top-flight closer and Lee leaves without lifting Seattle to postseason glory, the M's can have egg on their faces.

What I will say is this: The Twins did not get a prospect in the Santana trade as well regarded at the time as Drabek, Taylor, Wallace or Aumont — or even Matt LaPorta, the jewel in the Sabathia trade.

We outsiders will never know how serious the rumors of Jon Lester or Phil Hughes were, if there was ever truly an opportunity for Bill Smith to get one of those pitchers for Santana.

The Twins's take on the Santana trade at this point is two (mediocre) years of Carlos Gomez, J.J. Hardy, Jon Rauch and whatever Delois Guerra may eventually amount to. At this point, we can be justified in saying that they would have been better off keeping Santana for his walk year and taking the draft picks.

But then, they'd still be looking for a shortstop.

No comments:

Post a Comment