Celebrating a Halladay weekend

Much as 2007 was the Winter of Johan, 2009 is shaping up to be a Very Merry Halladay. (OK, OK. I’ll stop with the bad puns now.) We’ve heard all about how the Blue Jays are making Roy Halladay available, how the team is willing to trade him within in the AL East and how they want a Major League-ready arm and bat as well as other prospects in exchange.

With these demands as a starting point, then, it’s little wonder that Joe yesterday expressed his belief that a trade would not be consummated any time soon. No team is going to be too willing to give up two cost-controlled players for one year plus the right to (over)pay Halladay for a few more years. If the Blue Jays want to turn Halladay into something younger and cheaper, they are probably going to have to reduce their demands.

But there is another wild card in these negotiations. What of Halladay? When the Jays’ ace signed his three-year, $40-million extension in March 2006, Toronto granted him a full no-trade clause. Alex Anthopoulos can talk until he is blue in the face, but unless Roy signs off on the deal, he ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Last night, we learned that Roy Halladay appears willing to waive that NTC for the Yanks. Bob Elliot, a Toronto-based sports writer, fills us in:

Will Roy Halladay leave Toronto via the same route as ex-Blue Jays aces David Cone and Roger Clemens?

…It has always been a possibility. Now that chance has been upgraded. “I don’t know who Toronto will wind up with,” a major league executive said Friday. “I don’t know when he is going and I don’t know where he’s going. But I do know that Halladay has told the Jays he’ll approve a trade to the Yankees.”

…Halladay has never said yeah or nay to the Yanks and still hasn’t, but this third party news clears the decks for Halladay to follow the path of Cone and Clemens.

Halladay, reports Elliot, has already said that he would block trades to both the Twins and Rangers, among others, and he feels that this news opens up an avenue to New York for the Jays’ ace. Still, though, if the price remains Jesus Montero along with either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes and other prospects — or simply Jesus plus one of those two pitchers — it’s too steep a deal, too high a price for the Yanks. Brian Cashman has held on to his blue chips through thick and thin, through Johan and a bad 2008. He won’t change course so soon. Across town, Elena Gustines and Jay Schreiber of The Times urge the Mets to take Vernon Wells with Halladay, but the Yanks shouldn’t even consider that move.

Meanwhile, while Halladay remains a big name out there, the Marlins may have thrown a wrench into Toronto’s plans. John Perrotto, via Twitter, says that he “keeps hearing” that the Marlins are “very willing to trade Josh Johnson right now for the right package.” Joe Frisaro, the beat writer for the Marlins’ official site, disputes that notion. I am of the belief that any player is generally always available for the right price, and if the Larry Beinfest gets a good offer, he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Now, we’ve gone on record with our interest in Josh Johnson. He has the stuff to succeed in the AL East, and his peripherals suggest he will. He will be just 26 come Opening Day 2010 and figures to have his peak years ahead of him. If the Yanks are going to sell some of the farm on a pitcher this year, I’d rather see them go after Johnson than Halladay. Both, it seems, are available, and the Hot Stove machinations are starting to heat up.

The World Series MVPs who moved on

When a player is named most valuable on his team, it normally means the team would like him around. There are exceptions — the Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez after an MVP 2003 season, after all — but normally, the player factors into the team’s plans. This is even true for World Series MVPs. Even though it’s based on a short sampling of games, the World Series MVP almost always returns to his team for the following year. In fact, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, only three World Series MVPs in history have left the following year, never to return.

Just before the waiver trade deadline in 1984, the Mets acquired a badly slumping Ray Knight from the Astros. An above average hitter for most of his career, Knight fell off a cliff as a 31-year-old in ’84, OPSing .540 through 297 plate appearances. He didn’t hit much better for the Mets in September, and was simply horrible in 1985, OPSing .580 through 290 plate appearances. Things changed in 1986, though, and Knight was back with a .775 OPS (115 OPS+).

After a terrible NLCS, Knight destroyed the Red Sox in the World Series. His home run to lead off the seventh inning of Game 7 broke a 3-3 tie, and his single in the bottom of the tenth of Game 6 put the Mets to within one. Overall he went 9 for 23 and earned the World Series MVP.

Knight was a free agent after the season, and although the Mets offered him a one-year, $800,000 contract he decided to seek a multiyear contract elsewhere. He did not find one, ultimately settling on a one-year, $500,000 contract with the Orioles. At 34, however, he was on the decline. After seeing his OPS decline by over .090 in 1987, it fell another .110 in 1988, Knight’s final season. The Mets made an effort to retain Knight at their price, but he apparently misread the market. Still, they wouldn’t overpay, and they were right.

The BBWAA will again consider Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, so we’ll hear plenty about him over the next month-plus. Morris never won a Cy young in his 18-year career, but he did win a World Series MVP in 1991, when he pitched Games 1, 4, and 7 for the Twins. He allowed just three runs in those games, winning two of them, including a 10-inning shutout in the clincher. Morris was certainly the king of Minnesota in the aftermath.

Morris, a native of St. Paul, declined his $3.65 million option for 1992, becoming a free agent and eventually signing a two-year, $10.85 million contract with the Blue Jays. It made him the highest paid pitcher in baseball for the 1992 season. Morris had a good season for the Jays, pitching 240.2 innings, but to a near-league-average 4.04 ERA. He did start two games in that World Series, getting hit hard in his second start. The Blue Jays ultimately won. They won the next year, too, but Morris didn’t pitch in the postseason. He suffered a partial ligament tear in his elbow in September after posting a 6.19 ERA through 152.2 innings.

The most recent World Series MVP to leave his team was John Wetteland. Acquired just after the player strike ended, Wetteland had two great seasons in pinstripes that culminated with four straight saves in the ’96 World Series, earning him the MVP. Wetteland reportedly wanted to return to the Yankees, but they were ready to move on with Mariano Rivera closing games. On December 17, Wetteland signed a four year, $23 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

Wetteland had two good years with the Rangers, followed by a middling one in 1999. In 2000 he continued to decline, finishing his contract with a 4.20 ERA season. He would not sign another pro contract.

Should the Yankees decide against bringing him back, Matsui will be just the fourth World Series MVP who didn’t return to his former team. The team has to be concerned that Matsui, who will be 36 next season, will fall off a cliff like Knight. Chances are, however, that Matsui has at least one more good season left in him, like Morris. Unlike Wetteland, however, the Yankees don’t have a clear option to replace Matsui at DH. His situation is a kind of amalgamation of his three predecessors’. I just hope his fate ends up different.

Open Thread: 2010 HOF Ballot

Amidst the Black Friday madness, the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot was released to the public this year, as 15 new names joined the 11 holdovers from last year. Here’s the list, via the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader

Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Ellis Burks, Andre Dawson, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile

Players in bold are the holdovers. Blyleven and Dawson were far and away the closest to being voted in last year, coming in at 63% and 67%, respectively (75% is required for enshrinement). I’d vote for Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Martinez, McGwire, Raines, and Trammell, but that’s just me. I’ll defend my picks in the comments, if anyone dares to challenge me.

Who would you vote for?

* * *

Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Rangers are in Tampa, the Knicks are in Denver, and The Quest For 0-82 continues in Sacramento. Talk about whatever you want, just make sure you follow the guidelines and be cool.

Roberto Alomar
Kevin Appier
Harold Baines 32 (6%)
Bert Blyleven 338 (63%)
Ellis Burks
Andre Dawson 361 (67%)
Andres Galarraga
Pat Hentgen
Mike Jackson
Eric Karros
Ray Lankford
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly 64 (12%)
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire 118 (22%)
Jack Morris 237 (44%)
Dale Murphy 62 (12%)
Dave Parker 81 (15%)
Tim Raines 122 (23%)
Shane Reynolds
David Segui
Lee Smith 240 (45%)
Alan Trammell 94 (17%)
Robin Ventura
Todd Zeile

What’s next for Aroldis Chapman?

After changing agents, there’s some questions about what’s next for Aroldis Chapman, but lucky Jorge Arangure is here to answer some of those questions. Chapman’s new representatives – the Hendricks Brothers – have him focusing solely on baseball, meaning there will be fewer interviews and appearances, and obviously they have more experience than his previous agent, the small-time Edwin Mejia. Of course, Mejia is likely to pursue some legal action since he’s going to lose out on a huge commission, though he probably won’t be able to do much more than recoup expenses.

One GM told Peter Gammons that dropping Mejia after he helped Chapman defect and become a free agent raised character questions, which is understandable. However, Mejia’s agency did post pictures of Chapman at a strip club on it’s Facebook page, which is kinda not cool considering the guy is trying to land a multi-million dollar contract and would (presumably) like to maintain a family friendly image. In the end, talent is talent, and if Lastings Milledge can still get taken in the first round after allegedly sexually assaulting a classmate, Chapman will still get his.

The best World Series of the decade was clearly 2001

With another decade of World Series complete, David Brown of Yahoo ranks them in order of greatness. The Yankees, of course, appear four times, ranking first, fifth, seventh, and eighth — the best, of course, being the 2001 Series. It ended on a painful note, but the two-run, game-tying home runs on back to back nights made that Series especially memorable. The 2009 team ranked fifth, though I think you just as easily could have swapped it with the No. 4 spot, the 2005 White Sox. The Subway Series finished at seventh, while the 2003 loss to the Marlins ranked eighth. The Red Sox historic 2004 victory ranked third, mostly for sentimental reasons (and I wouldn’t know where to rank it, since I didn’t watch an inning of it), but their 2007 victory was ranked the worst of the decade.

What the Blue Jays seek for Halladay

Don’t expect the Roy Halladay rumors to fade away anytime soon. Until the Blue Jays trade their ace, he’ll remain atop the baseball conversation topics. That could be sometime soon, or it could last all the way until July 31. Because the Yankees are the richest team in baseball and perpetually hunt for pitching, stories about Halladay will involve them. I’m already resigned to a few months of Halladay speculation.

We know the suitors. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and even the Mets will factor into the process. A smaller market team might get involved later in the process, but at this point it would be an upset for Halladay to land with anyone else. What we don’t know, though, is Toronto’s asking price. Writers have addressed it, picking out the top prospects from the involved teams. But do those players fit with Toronto’s many needs?

In his National Post column, Jeremy Sandler writes of a modern day reality. As we know, “there will be a whole lot of unfounded and unrealistic talk as the process goes on, especially in an Internet age where even the flimsiest premise can gain traction if repeated enough times.” I’d like to continue this tradition by repeating a rumor Sandler introduces just a few paragraphs later. It’s not completely new, but it might offer some perspective on Toronto’s asking price.

The Jays want a major league-ready arm and bat, both young and affordable enough to stay in Toronto a while, plus prospects for Halladay.

That sounds like an awful lot to ask for a 33-year-old pitcher who will earn close to $16 million and is a year away from free agency. Yet Sandler leaves the terms ambiguous enough for us to wonder what players fill those needs. After all, it’s one thing to be a major league ready bat, but it’s another to be a major league ready bat with serious potential.

Both the Yankees and the Red Sox fill the major league ready arm requirement. The Yankees have Chamberlain and Hughes, while the Sox have Clay Buchholz. Neither team wants to trade those young, controllable arms, but perhaps would consider it for Halladay. Both teams also have high-ceiling prospects in the lower minors, who would presumably fill the “plus prospects” portion of the deal. But what of the major league ready bat?

Some scouts consider Jesus Montero‘s bat ready for the majors, though his catching skills still need seasoning. As Jon Heyman tweets, the Jays like Montero. Then again, all 30 teams probably like him. I won’t harp on this, since we’ve said it dozens of times before, but both Montero and one of Hughes an Chamberlain is too much. One reason is that all three have high ceilings. Another is that trading one means the Yankees are upgrading from one to Halladay. How much is that upgrade worth? I don’t think it’s worth one of those pitchers and Montero.

The question from Boston’s end is of who can fill that major league bat parameter? Lars Anderson isn’t major league ready. Nor is Casey Kelly. Josh Reddick is, and perhaps the Sox would trade him and Buchholz for Halladay. But would the Jays accept that? I guess that depends on how the market develops. If the Red Sox plan to snag Halladay early, though, that probably won’t get it done.

For the Yanks, Austin Jackson would fit the major league ready bat bill. But with Vernon Wells stuck in Toronto for the forseeable future, it’s uncertain whether the Jays would add another center fielder. That brings us back to Montero, at which point the Yankees would probably want to substitute Hughes or Chamberlain for a lesser pitching prospect, probably Zack McAllister. At that point, the Jays would probably decide to sit and wait.

There are other suitors, and perhaps those teams are willing to part with players that match the Jays’ parameters. As it concerns the Yankees, they certainly have the pieces required to land Halladay. The question is of whether they’d be willing to surrender them. Jesus and Hughes/Chamberlain seems like too much. Jackson and one of the pitchers doesn’t seem to fit the Jays’ needs. Jesus and McAllister is more reasonable from the Yankees standpoint, but not much meet Toronto’s requirements.

I ultimately agree with Ken Rosenthal on this issue. “It would be an upset if [Halladay negotiations] ended anytime soon.”

Reliving the A-Rod trade

While most of us were business chowing down on turkey and stuffing and pie yesterday, Ben Nicholson-Smith revisited the Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez swap as part of his “Trades of the Decade” series at MLBTR. Texas also received shortstop Joaquin Arias, who was one of the Yanks’ best prospects at the time, in the deal. They selected him out of a pool of five minor leaguers that also included Jose Valdez and some Double-A second baseman named Robinson Cano.

I found out about the trade while watching TV when I was waiting for a table at Applebees (yeah yeah) with my then-girlfriend, and I remember my mind being completely blown. Where was he going to play? Was Jeter going to move off short? Who else did they give up? In a world before MLBTR and the internet at your fingertips, it was a complete shock and I couldn’t wait to get home to find out what the hell happened. Those were the days, when trades just happened and you had no idea what was coming.