It’s a couple of days later and the dust has settled on the first – maybe the biggest – blockbuster of the 2009/2010 Hot Stove season. The Toronto Blue Jays, having peddled Roy Halliday for six months, finally moved their ace to the Phillies for three prospects – flipping one of them to the Oakland As. The Phillies, having added Halliday and signed him to a three-year extension – and having moved seven top prospects in six months – next sent Cliff Lee to Seattle for three more prospects.
Wow. That’s a lot of dust.
In a period of rebuilding, Toronto adds young players to the mix. Kyle Drabek is a former first round draft pick who finally appears to be maturing from a kid with a good pedigree (his dad, Doug, was a solid pitcher 20 years ago for the Pirates) to someone who might actually be able to pitch. Now, a good season at A+ Clearwater and holding his own at AA Reading does not an ace make. And, Toronto may be forced to get this guy in the rotation in 2010, but I’d like to see Drabek get a full season at AAA. What you like is his overall minor league record – 19 – 10, good ERA, solid K/W numbers. I’m not certain he’ll turn into Halliday, but he might turn into Jim Clancy – and that wouldn’t be all that bad.
Travis D’Arnaud is another first round pick, a catcher who appears to be a fair hitter and decent backstop. Last year was his first really full season, and for an “A” ball guy he looks – well – okay. At 13 – 71 – .255, D’Arnaud has room to grow but it’s early in his career. John Buck will be around a couple of years and by then we’ll know more about where D’Arnaud’s future will be.
The third player Toronto got was Brett Wallace, a third baseman who looks like a HITTER – and with Edwin Encarnacion as the incumbant, I’d think that Wallace will get a shot as early as 2010 to show what he can do. I think he’ll be a step up offensively, but not necessarily turn heads with his glove. He MIGHT be someone you should take with your fantasy team because in an AL only league, he’ll be one of the top performers at his position by mid-summer.
Roy Halliday has been a horse for years now; he’s better than Cliff Lee (and I like Cliff Lee) though he is a few years older. Nobody eats up innings like this guy and in the NL, where he’ll get to face #8 and #9 hitters who can’t touch him, he’s a candidate to have a 2.00 ERA, wouldn’t you think? At 32, Halliday is entering his prime “horse” years – and assuming it’s three (or four) years of the same, I see no reason other than an arm injury to think he won’t get 80 wins in the next four years and cement his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers of his era. He’s very nearly the Christy Mathewson of the 2000s.
The best thing Philadelphia did was restore some youth to the prospect list having dealt seven away in the last several months. In trading Cliff Lee – who apparently wants a really big contract after he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2010 season – the Phillies acquired three young players, two of which might be of service in the next three years.
Philippe Aumont is a tall Canadian who throws hard but is still a little raw. He strikes out batters but occasionally gets wild and was hit around a little at AA West Tennessee (though in just 15 games). Two years from now, he could be a decent reliever, and four years from now could be a closer for somebody. It’s just a little early to tell.
Tyson Gillies has surprising power, a lot of speed, and is similar to Michael Taylor a couple of years ago (with a touch less power and a touch more speed). You have to like a guy who hits for a decent average and draws walks. In three years, he could become a centerfielder/lead off hitter somewhere. Look for him to replace Shane Victorino in 2013.
Juan Ramirez is a toolsy Nicaraguan kid who, at this point, is very raw and can be seen as “organizational depth” until he breaks out in AA or something.
Having landed Chone Figgins and now Cliff Lee, Seattle has BUZZ. They might only get Lee for one year, but with Lee and King Felix at the top of the rotation, you have to like how this sets up for 2010. While I like Aumont and Gillies could be fun in a couple of years, Seattle looks like it’s gearing up for a run at the 2010 AL West crown and sell a lot of tickets this year. They still need punch in the middle of the lineup, but you’ll be reading about the Mariners as a contender in every magazine.
Now, let’s cut to the chase. Before we anoint Seattle as the team to watch in 2010, remember that they were actually outscored by their opponents by more than 50 runs last year. They still could use an outfielder who can hit, and Russell Branyan broke out but one could fear that, at his age, he might not repeat. There are a LOT of holes in the lineup. I don’t think, at least at this point, that Seattle is a candidate to win more than 80 games.
Still – getting Lee is COOL for the franchise. The Mariners SOUND like a team, and READ like a team that’s going to be serious and a contender. Let the games begin.
Michael Taylor, who has more or less averaged a 20 – 20 season while batting .312 since being drafted by the Phillies out of Stanford in 2007. His power is going to develop, he’s already got a little patience at the plate – he could turn into Bobby Abreu without the really high walk totals. Oakland needs him – he’s an upgrade over Rajai Davis or Ryan Sweeney in the outfield. Having added Jake Fox from Chicago, Brett Wallace was reasonably expendable so this was a good flip of prospects for the A’s.
Look – Oakland’s record wasn’t that great, but the young pitchers looked decent and the A’s actually scored nearly as many runs as they allowed in 2009 – which means with a little luck and a step off offensively, Oakland becomes a contender for the AL West crown. Don’t be too surprised if this happens.
And the Winner is?
I like what Philadelphia did, and I like what Oakland did. The jury is out on Toronto and I think Seattle’s buzz will end quickly if they open the season 10 – 15.