May 08, 2013

Is Doc Halladay done for his career? And Phillies for the season?

Well, Roy Halladay, the iron man of the mound for most of the previous decade, is undergoing shoulder surgery. And, a bone spur doesn't sound like good news. Especially not if there's a partial rotator cuff tear and other things. True, it's not a full tear of the cuff, but, anything, it's a problem.

Fangraphs says that, going by the past, it's really not good news:
 Players over the age of 35 that went on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings over the course of the rest of their career. So if Roy Halladay pitches 60 innings next year, he’ll be ahead of the game. 
What about more recently? Fangraphs adds that six starters in that group, DL-ing since 2002, pitched more than 100 career innings. They include John Smoltz (106), Pedro Martinez (153.2), Kenny Tim Wakefield (424.1), and Orlando Hernandez (438.1).

That said, we all know Halladay is a Smoltz/Martinez pitcher, not a Wakefield/Hernandez one. So, Phillies fans shouldn't hold their breath.

The real question is, how much should Phils fans expect Ruben Amaro to start working the trade deals?And when?

The when? The Phillies aren't in Marlin-land, so no need for a total panic yet. But, I don't expect them to be any more in play later than now. Unlike this in-the-tank Phils fan, I am not assuming their "putrid offense" radically heats up.

And, Amaro himself can do all the brave talk he wants, but, if he's wanting to be a buyer, I'm going to charge him a lot.

So, on the "sell" side, no serious talks even start before June 1, and likely not before the All-Star break. And, I'll discount the "buy" side.

As for who?

I see only three legitimate trade baits for Amaro: Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels.

All three are interesting.

Lee's never had serious injury problems, he's a lefty, and his contract is long enough to pretty much wrap up his career, with the last year being cheaper.

Utley, so far, is having his best and healthiest year in four or five years. (Let's see what that looks like in a month or two.) That said, he's a free agent; unless you're sure you can resign him, and want to, you're buying a rent-a-player. And, Amaro knows he's selling one.

Hamels? So far this year, the opposite of Utley. His worst year since 2009. But, he's younger than Utley or Lee, and under contract for longer. If you assume he bounces back (and indeed, has started to do so by trade time), you'd have to be buying on him, if Amaro put him up.

That, in turn, relates to how much of an overhaul Amaro thinks the team needs. Both as far as players and contract dinero. Fortunately for him, Halladay is on an option next year, so there's no contract albatross there.

Any pennant contender that's not a totally small-market team will take Lee without asking any salary assumption. But, Amaro's player price might be high. Cleveland might have a prospects package, if it's still in the wild card running and the dealing timetable is later, not sooner. The Giants would certainly sniff. Maybe the Braves. Would the Rangers take a second run at him? What about Boston? And, the Yankees have nothing to offer.

Hamels? If he does bounce back, a mid-market team with a mix of major-league players and minor-league prospects needing somebody to shore up its staff for longer-term needs might bite. Or even an upper-market team looking to bounce back. Say, the Cubs?

Utley? Still not sure where he would head. Maybe the Nats, if the price is right. Or the D-backs, if they're hanging around?

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