Roamin' Halladay

Morning, all you happenin' cats and hoppenin' kitties!

Friends, I have got the blues this morning. No idea why, really, just do. One of those days, I suppose. (Actually, to be accurate, one of those weeks so far.) Not enough to keep me from being giddy about the performance we saw last night from the nucleus of the Cardinal offense, as well as a second-in-a-row brilliant performance from A.D.A.M., but certainly enough to ensure this will likely be a rather subdued post. Sorry.

Outstanding win from the Cardinals last night; if you want my thoughts on the game itself, I've already put said thoughts to paper elsewhere.

The big news of the day, of course, is that Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jay and ace par excellence, is apparently now on the trading block.There's already been a bit of discussion of the topic in Taskmaster's fanpost,but I wanted to take a bit closer look at the logistics of trading for Roy Halladay, and just how feasible it really is.

To be honest, my first thought on a deal for Roy Halladay is, "No way that's going to happen." My second thought is then, "No way that's gonna happen." Around my third thought, though, I start to think of what it would be like to have Roy F. Halladay in a Cardinal uniform, and I start to reconsider a bit, largely because my capacity for rational thought begins to break down at that point.

There are two main components to any consideration of a deal like this: the trade package and the finances. We'll start with the package, shall we? (That's what she said.)

Any package the Cardinals - or any other team, for that matter - would have to give up for a pitcher of Halladay's stature would have to be quite substantial. You're likely looking at about a three or four for one, depending on the exact quality of the players involved. You would start, most likely, with Brett Wallace. He's the Cards' best prospect, and one of the more intriguing bats in the minor leagues. After that, you're probably looking at giving up a Daryl Jones, as well as a top arm. I would say a guy like Lance Lynn, or if you wanted to go relief, Francisco Samuel. (Assuming Samuel isn't already gone in the DeRosa deal, in which case it would likely be Jess Todd.) Finally, I know the Blue Jays are supposedly looking for middle infield talent, which isn't a particularly strong suit in the Cardinal system, as I'm sure we are all well aware. However, the Cards do have Pete Kozma, first round pick and Texas Leaguer at the tender age of 21. I know we like to pile on Pete a bit around here - I'll be the first to admit guilt here - due to the fact he isn't Rick Porcello, but Kozma is young for his league, holding his own, and still projects as a plus defender at a premium position. He's worth more than you think.

So that's the package, or something like it. Wallace, Jones, Samuel, and Kozma. Now, on to the finances.

This is where things start to get really dicey, and the reason I generally think this has no chance of happening. Not because I think the Cardinals are cheap or anything, but simply because I doubt there's enough wiggle room in the budget to pay what Halladay is currently making.

Halladay is making $14.25 million this year, and will make 15.75 in 2010. You have to ask, first off, if he's worth it, and the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, Halladay falls into that same category as Albert, of the superstar player who literally almost can't be paid what he's worth, as the market simply won't bear it. Even if you give Albert the $25-30 million a year he's worth on the market, that's still a remarkable bargain. Same with Halladay.

Now, the question of whether the Cardinals have the salary room is much more complicated. Right now, Halladay would cost the team the pro-rated chunk of that $14.25, which we'll just eyeball and call $7 million. Now, I have no idea if the Cards are in a position to add a $7 million salary, but honestly, I think they could. Opening Day payroll this year was a shade over $88 million, and ownership has been upfront that because of better than expected attendance, there is a fair amount of wiggle room. Mark DeRosa and his $3 million salary have been added, bringing payroll up to about $91 million. Adding Halladay and his $7 million would likely bring the total number up to right around the $100 million mark. (I'm not putting concrete figures on the total payroll, because there are a lot of smaller factors that can move the payroll.)

As for the $15.75 million Halladay is owed in 2010, that's a tough one. The thing is, the Cardinals will have the payroll room. After this season, there is a ton of money coming off the books. Troy Glaus' $11.25 million will be gone. Ditto Khalil Greene's $6.5 million. Those two alone are enough to offset the expense of Halladay's salary. In addition, if you add Halladay, you're certainly not resigning Joel Pineiro, so that's another $7.5 million coming off the books. Ankiel won't be back, so kick his $2.8 right out. All told, the Cardinals will have somewhere in the neighbourhood of $28 million of payroll space freed up. Against that, Roy Halladay and his ~16 mil is pretty easy to absorb. In fact, the Cardinals are probably in better shape to pick up Halladay financially than just about any other team in baseball. There are a few players due bumps, most notably Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse, who together will get a raise in the $4 million range. It's tough to say what sort of raise Ryan Ludwick is in for, but if he ends up with a solid season this year, you probably have to look at getting maybe a three year deal done with him, maybe paying him in the $5 million range.

The thing is, if the Cardinals were to pick up Roy Halladay, they would essentially be committing to one plan for this year and next. Adding that salary removes any real flexibility the Cards have now, requiring them to go with cheap replacements at every position. Thus, the roster you see now is likely what you would have next year as well, with maybe a few changes. With raises and Halladay, the Cardinals would be looking at a probable maximum of about $6-8 million to spend, so there would be no substantial upgrade to the outfield. You might get a lower-end free agent, but most likely you would be looking at Mather, or Jon Jay, or Tyler Henley, or the equivalent. (Of course, another option would be to simply shift Skip back to the outfield and install, say, Dan Descalso at second, but I somehow just don't see that happening.)

Third base would present an interesting dilemma. You could afford to resign Mark DeRosa and keep him as your everyday guy over there, but that would eat up almost all your payroll. David Freese is an option, of course, as would be Joe Mather if he's healthy.

The bullpen is likely set, and relatively affordable. Franklin is the only guy down there making any real money, and he's only getting bumped up by about half a mil next season, so that's not really a huge concern. If there's one area this organisation can fill from the minors, it's the bullpen. Even if Todd and Samuel are both gone by next season, Eduardo Sanchez is rapidly becoming a top prospect, as well as the lefty duo of Sam Freeman and Tyler Norrick, both at Double A.

Something you do have to consider, though, is Halladay would strictly be a rental for a year and a half. In an ideal world, of course, you would trade for him and then sign him to an extension, ensuring he would spend his mid-30s in Cardinal red, but that's simply not an option. Looking down the road a bit, for  2011, the Cards already have $33.5 million dedicated to three starting pitchers; add to that the contract they need to be handing Albert and you're looking somewhere in the range of $55 million for four players. There's just no way to add Roy Halladay to that number at ~$17-18 million a year and still maintain a team around them.

Of course, what this should teach us is the abject stupidity of no-trade clauses for all but the most core of players. The thing is, in 2011, Kyle Lohse will be making not quite $12 million. Now, if you could move him after 2010, suddenly you're only adding, say, $6 million to sign Halladay. That you can manage. Unfortunately, you can't move Kyle Lohse, because he has a full no trade clause. And remember, Kyle Lohse is a Scott Boras client who signed the day after the season ended. Free agency didn't start for another two months. To me, that says that Kyle Lohse likes it here, and isn't leaving. Period. I didn't like the money in the Lohse deal, but I could live with it. I preferred three years, but thought four was probably okay. The NTC, though, I railed and raged against, and shouted at anyone who would listen it was a bad idea. This is why.

Now, what exactly what acquiring Roy Halladay do for the Cardinals? Well, they immediately become the prohibitive favourite to win the division. Let's face it, there isn't another team in the NL, or maybe in baseball overall, that can compete with a rotation of Halladay/ Carpenter/ Wainwright/ Lohse/ Pineiro. Come playoff time, those first three especially could blast through any opponent in short order. The Cards pick up Halladay, they're the favourites to go to the World Series from the NL, I believe. I don't care how much Manny Ramirez means to the Dodgers, the Cardinals are a better team. You're replacing Todd Wellemeyer with Roy Halladay on a team that's already leading the division. That's just ridiculous.

In 2010, you can't afford to buy another starter, so you're forced to fill from the minors. That likely means either Jaime Garcia or  Clay Mortensen becomes your fifth starter, and I'm okay with that. With the front four you have in that rotation, it doesn't fucking matter who your fifth guy is. Period.

The roster for 2010 likely looks something like this:

Starters

C- Yadier Molina

1B- Albert

2B- Skippy

SS- Brendan Ryan

3B- David Freese

LF- Chris Duncan

CF- Colby-Wan

RF- Ryan Ludwick

Bench

Tyler Greene

 Joe Mather

Jon Jay

Backup Catcher (Let's face it, this could literally be anybody)

Rotation

Roy Halladay

Chris Carpenter

Adam Wainwright

Kyle Lohse

Jaime Garcia

Bullpen

Ryan Franklin

Jason Motte

Kyle McClellan

Eduardo Sanchez

Josh Kinney/ Blake Hawksworth

Denny's

Tyler Norrick/ random lefty

Frankly, I think that team could very well go to the WS as well, if even just a thing or two breaks well amongst the young guys.

And the thing is, this is really the sort of team the Cardinal farm system is built for right now. We've all heard the bitching about the lack of impact talent, but we also know perfectly well you could do a whole lot of filling in with the guys the Cards have available down below.

So that's the calculus. By trading for Roy Halladay, you would be giving up something in the neighbourhood of 24 cost-controlled years of players for a year and a half of Halladay. You couldn't afford to resign him, because you're already locked in to a bunch of expensive contracts in the rotation, none of which can be moved. (Actually, I think Wainwright could be moved, but that would easily be the least sensible move to make.) You would have to fill in any positions of need from the farm system rather than looking externally, because this move would eat up any and all financial flexibility you might have.

What would I do? Well, I mean, look at all the reasons I just laid out not to do it. It would be foolish.

So I would write a list with three names on it, Pujols, Wainwright, and Rasmus. I would send the list over to J.P. Ricciardi, and I would say, "Take four of anyone else you want. Fuck it."

We are talking about Roy Halladay, after all.

 

The Baron's playlist for 8th July, 2009

 "Valentine's Day is Over"- Billy Bragg

"Tonight Was a Disaster"- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

"No Children"- The Mountain Goats

"Floundering"- Berry

"Problem With Remembering"- Broken Records

Yes, they're all very, very sad. I'm okay with that.

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