When all is said and done, I would be pretty surprised if Roy Halladay ended up in the Bronx. The Blue Jays are not too keen on trading Halladay within the AL East, and Halladay’s recent ineffectiveness aside, the Yanks would have to give up a king’s ransom to land one of the game’s premiere pitchers.
When I last examined the questions concerning the Halladay trade, I looked at the Yankee Untouchables and concluded that just three players belonged on that list. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have already shown why scouts have long regarded them as a potential 1-2 combination in the Bronx, and Jesus Montero, at 19, has hit anything and everything thrown his way. Beyond them, I would be willing to move any Yankee prospect — and a few of the younger members of the Big League club — in the right deal.
Now, fans always tend to overvalue their own team’s prospects. The advent of the Internet has allowed us to track kids’ progress on a day-to-day level not really available to us a few years ago. We know what Montero does every time he’s at the plate, and we can see the results take shape in the form of gaudy season numbers. Still, a very valid school of thought believes that teams should trade the unknown for the known nearly all the time, and that contingent of analysts is alive and well in the Yankee Universe.
Our first example of this attitude comes to us via Peter Abraham. In a purely hypothetical post, Abraham opines on his belief that the Yankees could win now but need Halladay to do so. To get him, he recommends parting with Joba — for bad reasons — and Jesus — for good ones. “The unexplained loss of velocity is a concern. So is the stubborn unwillingness to listen to others. There is a chance he could be great. But as each day passes, there seems to be more of a chance that he won’t be,” he writes of Joba.
As each day passes, the chance that Joba will be great doesn’t lessen or decrease. He’s still in just his third full season of professional baseball, and he’s still feeling his way. As much as I have been frustrated with Joba’s results and process this year, we can’t write him off because of a bad half season. The Yankees have done that in the past, and it doesn’t ever end well.
Abraham’s argument concerning Montero closely echoes Mike Ashmore’s passionate piece urging the Yanks to trade Jesus. Ashmore, who watches Montero on a day-by-day basis, understands that Jesus is not likely to wind up a Major League catcher. Ashmore notes the Yanks’ depth at catching, and as Abraham summarizes, “There has to be pain in this trade and this is it.”
While Ashmore and Abraham focus on Halladay, the identity of the player targeted by the Yanks is nearly besides the point. To improve the team, the Yankees will have to give up something. As much as we joke about, they can’t really land anything for Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera. Last year, they gave up the unknown and mostly highly regarded Jose Tabata in a deal for two impact players. This year, who knows who it will be?
They can and will try to throw gobs of money at Aroldis Chapman, but he’s just another unknown not ready for prime time. The big fish come with a price tag now, and we’ll find out over the next 16 days just how much the Yanks are willing to pay.