On the surface the Toronto Blue Jays decision to move Roy Halladay when they did made perfect sense, aside from losing the best player to ever don the Jays uniform it was widely agreed upon that this was going to be a year of rebuilding and to get some tangible assets for Doc going forward was a no-brainer.  Like I mentioned in my piece about Jose Bautista at the trade deadline, the improvement (or arrival) of a team is not linear in the sense that you can almost never anticipate with any degree of certainty when a team has officially turned a corner, or arrived.

Playing in the AL East certainly makes that prediction or projection that much tougher and this piece isn’t meant to be a criticism for the Blue Jays trading Halladay but rather a look at a franchise that is clearly on the rise and what this season could have looked like if the Jays just hung on to their ace.  First, I think the Jays definitely made the right decision and I applaud the due diligence and determination of our rookie GM Alex Anthopoulos for leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit to get the best possible deal for our franchise pitcher, but today we will have a little hypothetical fun.

The Blue Jays by most respected baseball insiders got a solid package of talent when they acquired SP Kyle Drabek, C Travis D’Arnaud and Michael Taylor Brett Wallace CF Anthony Gose and I would have to agree with that consensus.  The lack of a dominating K-rate for Drabek is slightly disconcerting and I think his stock has dropped ever so slightly since the beginning of the season though the kid has pitched a no-hitter (who hasn’t this year?) and his minor league splits show a very solid ground-ball rate, maybe it is fair to say he is now rated to be a potential Matt Garza as opposed to Josh Beckett.

Again, the package we received was fair and D’Arnaud and Gose are both very intriguing young hitters with Gose having the potential to be a fairly high-impact defender in centre field, always a valuable commodity in today’s game.  This isn’t to dissect or discuss the Roy Halladay trade but to determine what type of season the Jays could have had with Halladay still on the team given that the three assets we received for him are not likely to make much (or any) impact to our team for this current season.

Roy Halladay continues to pitch like a man possessed as he is ranked #1 in terms of WAR accumulated this season on Fangraphs, are we (as Jays fans) surprised in the least that Roy is the best pitcher in the game?                                                

Halladay IPs ERA xFIP K/BB BB/9 WHIP WAR
2010 193 2.24 2.82 7.9 1.03 1.01 6.3
MLB Rank 1st 3rd 1st 2nd 2nd 5th 1st

 

Pretty much par for the course for our beloved Halladay but the category we will focus on for this piece will be WAR, where Halladay is currently ranked at the top of the league (in the year of the pitcher part deux) with a very impressive 6.3 mark currently.  WAR of course stands for ‘Wins above replacement’ so the number of wins that said player contributes over and above a replacement level player (think Vicente Padilla) it is a great way to see how much value he would truly add (well, close enough anyway) without giving ridiculous claims of 18-20 wins because Roy even on his off days helps us pitch complete games. 

Toronto’s record currently sits at 62-55 which is impressive considering the league and more specifically the division we play in, take away our 12-0 record vs. Baltimore and our record vs. AL East is a paltry 12-24.  I think Roy Halladay could have helped us some in that regard given his strong track record against even the toughest AL East foes.  Our starting rotation for most of the season has consisted of the impressive quartet of:

2010 Age IPs GS W-L ERA xFIP
Romero 25 160.0 24 10-7 3.43 3.64
Marcum 28 135.0 22 10-6 3.87 3.95
Morrow 25 127.1 22 9-6 4.45 3.68
Cecil 23 125 20 9-6 3.96 4.14

 

Hard to complain about that group so far this year and the worst ERA of the bunch Brandon Morrow actually has some of the best stuff and peripherals on the staff and definitely possesses a bright future for the team.  However, all season the weakness of the Blue Jays staff has of course been the fifth starter spot, where Jesse Litsch and Dana Eveland have provided little to no value, or better yet ‘replacement’ level pitching.  Ahh, maybe you see where this is heading.

2010 Age IPs GS W-L ERA xFIP
Litsch 25 46.2 9 1-5 5.79 5.46
Eveland 26 44.2 9 3-4 6.45 5.69
Totals – – – 90.4 18 4-9* 6.17 – – –

*Eveland inexplicably had 3 wins while posting a 6.45 ERA so the record should be even more ghastly for the fifth starter spot all things considered.

Roy Halladay has made 25 starts this season and has been worth 6.3 wins above replacement level so for the fun of this exercise we will kindly and optimistically round up to 7.0 (we’ll call it a few extra points for saving the bullpen extra mileage) and we will adjust the Jays record to 69-48, 4 games up on the Red Sox and only 2 games out of a playoff spot, saying Roy Halladay adding 7 wins to the bottom line is not ridiculous, it might even be the low end.

This is of course a rather elementary way of making an adjustment to the Jays overall record as there are a million different factors in play here including who did these 7 wins affect in terms of opponent which potentially could add additional losses to the top teams in our division but it does give you a solid grasp of the knowledge that the Blue Jays with Roy Halladay are most definitely a serious playoff contender.  You could also assume that the Jays would have been buyers, maybe even extremely active buyers at the deadline to shore up any weak spots and add depth for a stretch run further solidifying the roster.

This was all hypothetical (and fun) but it does beg the question: Were the Jays with Halladay a stronger team/contender than the Phillies with Halladay this season?  Perhaps the Jays should have just let Halladay play out his contract year at the risk of losing him for valuable compensatory draft picks at season’s end, though a part of me thinks he likely would have been excited and rejuvenated by the success and buzz the franchise has produced in 2010 thus far.  Another could argue on the other hand if the Phillies would have kept Cliff Lee and still added Roy Halladay that they might have had the greatest 1-2 combo in the history of baseball.

But this is all highly speculative.

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Comments
  1. GoJaysGo says:

    What do you think about this one? Cool stuff.

    http://taoofstieb.blogspot.com/2010/08/depth-in-formula.html

  2. tdotsports1 says:

    All great links, keep em comin!

    Always on the look out for quality Jays pieces!

  3. Blue Jay Ex Pat says:

    Interesting read and some good points you bring up. However, I think the most important factor in the trade was setting up Toronto for the near and distant future. To keep Halladay this year and be 99% certain to lose him at years end seemed a poor choice. Sure the Jays are playing well, but are no where near the level they need to be to compete with NYY or BOS. Halladay would have seen that and left. So might as well get something for him while he is of value rather than lose him for nothing.

  4. tdotsports1 says:

    I agree with you to an extent however unlike the other major sports in baseball we would have received two 1st round draft picks in the event Halladay signed on with another team.

    Again, who could have predicted such a quick rise in performance from our starting pitchers? They made the right move, hopefully Gose and/or Drabek pan out or this could look like the CC Sabathia/Cliff Lee from Cleveland deals where the teams essentially have nothing to show for themselves (sorry Matt Laporta).

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