Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Tale of Two Cy Youngs, Four Teams & Seven Prospects

A trade involving two AL Cy Young Award winners, four teams and seven prospects has been completed. This trade could have implications for years to come.

The Toronto Blue Jays traded pitcher Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies in turn traded pitcher Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners sent pitching prospects Phillipe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez as well as outfielder Tyson Gillies to the Phillies. The Phillies sent three minor leaguers - pitcher Kyle Drabek, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and outfielder Michael Taylor to the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays then dealt Taylor to the Oakland Athletics for third baseman Brett Wallace.

Got that?

The Phillies finally get the pitcher they wanted last summer. When then Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi dangled Halladay, the Phillies were keen on obtaining his services. But when Ricciardi began to oscilate the Phillies instead obtained 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians. Lee and the Phillies became NL champions while Halladay once again spent October at home.

Well, Ricciardi got the axe and his assistant Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM. He got the job done. Anthopoulos not only dealt Halladay but got several blue chip prospects in return. Kyle Drabek was the Phillies top minor league prospect and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. did not want to let him go. But if the Jays are going to give up the best pitcher then the Phillies needed to give up their top pitching prospect.

If the name sounds familiar it is because his father Doug Drabek was a top flight pitcher in the 1980s and 1990s. Drabek won the NL Cy Young Award with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. I would not be surprised if Drabek is in the Jays starting rotation by mid-season. Drabek, d'Arnaud and Wallace could become central figures with the Blue Jays in the new decade. Wallace is Rookie of the Year material while d'Arnaud is being groomed to become the Blue Jays number one catcher with ex-Royal John Buck being a transitional figure behind the plate.

In addition to obtaining Halladay, the Phillies also received prospects from the Mariners. The most impressive of them is Phillipe Aumont. The Quebec native opened eyes while pitchng for Canada in the World Baseball Classic last spring. If Brad Lidge pitches like he did in 2009 instead of 2008 and Ryan Madson can't answer the bell then it's not inconceivable that Aumont could become the Phillies closer sometime in 2010.

In Cliff Lee, the Mariners have a left hook to compliment Felix Hernandez's powerful right arm. With the Angels losing their ace John Lackey to Boston one can make the case the Mariners might be the favorite to win the AL West in 2010.

Yet as good as Lee is Halladay has been better over his career. He has won 148 games in 12 big league seasons. Halladay won the AL Cy Young Award in 2003 and has led the AL in complete games four of the last five seasons. Halladay is one of the few pitchers who strikes fear in the hearts of major league hitters and baseball fans alike. Although the Boston Red Sox have generally fared well against Halladay his presence evokes awe and respect in Red Sox Nation. Anytime Halladay was scheduled to pitch against the Sox the general consensus was, "Oh f#*k, we've lost." The same could be said for Yankees fans. Both teams and their fans are glad that Halladay is out of the AL East. It should be noted that Halladay was given a contract extension worth $60 million and will be signed with the Phillies through 2013.

This is a trade that appears to be beneficial to all parties. If it is it will be mother of all trades.

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