As we all know, the Phillies are being linked to trade rumors involving Roy Halladay, again. Halladay said that he will refuse a trade once the season begins, so if a trade does occur it should happen fairly soon. The Phillies have been widely acknowledged as the front runner to land Halladay. The other teams that have been reportedly involved in trade talks are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. The Jays are naturally reluctant to trade Halladay to division rivals such as the Yankees and Red Sox. The Angels are refusing to part ways with Eric Aybar who the Jays are demanding in return.
During the original trade talks between the Phillies and Jays, prior to the July 31st trade deadline, neither team was willing to yield in their demands. This inevitably led to the acquisition of Cliff Lee for the Phillies, and the termination of J.P. Ricciardi as the Jays GM. The trade stalled when the Jays were demanding both Happ and top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, along with minorleague outfielders Domonic Brown and Anthony Gose. The Phillies, wisely, rejected that offer as they felt the demands were too steep.
Now that it is officially the offseason, teams will have less time with Halladay under their control, compared to last year's trade deadline. Because of this, the value of Halladay has gone down significantly and the Jays demands are expected to be much less. As of Thursday, the Phillies were rumored to be offering a base package of James Andrew Happ, and one of either Domonic "I need a better nickname than Brownie" Brown, or Michael "The Mountain" Taylor. Assuming this is the offer that "allegedly" exists, I am sure that the Phillies will throw in a few more lesser valued prospects.
For those that mainly pay attention to the major league roster and aren't concerned about the minor league players, Brown and Taylor are the best non-pitcher prospects in the Phillies farm system. Taylor would be playing in Philadelphia right now if Werth didn't have a career 2009 campaign, and Brown is only a year away at the same position. The issue at hand is how much better Halladay is than Happ right now, and is that difference large enough to forego success past the 2010 season.
If Toronto's tourism industry hadn't exploded like it had in the past decade, then nobody would have seen the great Roy Halladay. Thank goodness for maple syrup and the appropriately low drinking age. Wait, that didn't happen. So why is everybody now making Roy Halladay out to be this incredible pitcher. Halladay went from a great pitcher to a hall of fame level pitcher just because he is on the trade block. I am not here to bash Halladay, he is a great pitcher, but it seems that people are making him out to be much more than he is.
2009 was one of Halladay's best seasons as he won 17 games while posting a 2.78 ERA in 239 innings, and he struck out 208 batters compared to only 35 walks. That is a great season for a pitcher, and if there is any current pitcher that can improve upon those numbers it is... well, Zach Greinke, but Halladay would be a good second guess. In all reality, the Philles will have Halladay for just one season if they acquire him before spring training. When trading away future talent for somebody that you are only going to have for one season, it is important that the player is dependable and durable as you are risking alot for a small period of time. In regards to durability, I couldnt name a pitcher that is more consistent and more durable than Halladay. Halladay has pitched well over 200 innings in 6 of the last 8 seasons and has had a sub-3.00 ERA in half of those seasons.
On the other side of this trade, stands J.A. Happ. You have got to feel bad for this guy, in a little over one year with the Phillies he has gone through trade rumors, bullpen demotion, and minor league demotion. Through all of this, Happ has succeeded on the mound while presenting a competitive but professional manor.
If Happ had not been in the Phillies organization in 2008, then there would have been no reason for 97% of Philadelphia's work force to be mysteriously missing on October 23rd of last year. Yes, the Phillies would not have won the World Series last year if Happ hadn't stepped in and produced like he did. Last year, Happ had 4 very crucial starts at the end of the year due to Kyle Kendrick's ability to make contact with every bat manufactured by the Louisville Bat Corporation. In those starts, Happ went 1-0 with a 2.32 ERA, the Phillies as a team won every game and didn't yield more than 2 runs in any game. The Phillies won the NL East by 2 games in 2008, without Happ it is very likely that the Phillies demolition of the 2008 playoffs would have never existed.
We all know the story of what happened with Happ throughout the season. That timeline has been told too many times. The organization's handling of Happ is exactly how to not handle a rookie pitcher. But through all of that he still posted a pitching line that is more impressive than people are acknowledging.
In 2009, as a rookie, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 166 innings, he struck out 119 batters while only allowing 149 hits. Happ was among the national league ranks in most pitching categories. He ranked 1st in road ERA, 2nd in winning percentage, 8th in ERA, and 13th in WHIP. There are people that are going to compare Happ's rookie season to Kyle Kendrick's rookie season. If you are one of those people, please press the button on your computer that has a circle on it because this article is too advanced for you to comprehend. To compare those 2 pitchers and their rookie seasons would take too long, so for now I will just leave you with this. 17 seasons. That is how long it has been since a Phillies pitcher, not a rookie, but pitcher, posted a sub 2.95 ERA in over 150 innings.
Sometimes pitching statistics can be deceiving as not all batters faced are the same, along with defenses, and parks being pitched in. Because of this it is better to use more advanced statistics such as PRAR or DERA. This is also more relevant in this discussion as these pitchers come from separate leagues so many of the external factors are not the same. PRAR is defined as pitching runs above replacement. This basically shows how many runs a particular pitcher saves compared to a replacement level pitcher, 20 usually represents a good pitcher. DERA is a representation of ERA if a league average defense was placed behind that pitcher.
For better comparisons I am going to compare the averages of Halladay's career after the point in which he became a fulltime starter, to Happ's 2009 season. In the 11 seasons that Halladay has been a fulltime starter, he has averaged a 36.72 PRAR and a 3.61 DERA. In 2009, Happ posted a 41 PRAR and a 3.03 DERA. These statistics show that Halladay doesn't necessarily overpower Happ by comparison.
I am not going to claim that Happ is a better pitcher than Halladay as it is clear that Halladay has shown the ability to be an elite pitcher in this league for a long time. Happ had a great 2009 season and there is little reason to believe that he can't improve or duplicate that in the future. After analyzing the pitching statistics more thoroughly, it appears that the one year improvement between Halladay and Happ is not worth forfeiting multiple years of Happ and Brown/Taylor in the future.