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Holliday or Halladay? It's a tough call
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Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have their fingers on the pulse of the MLB offseason news. Get all the |
AGEHolliday turns 30 next month and appears to be in the middle of his prime, having averaged 151 games a season in the last three years. He's durable and strong (6-4, 235 pounds) and barring any unforeseen injuries, projects a clean bill of health to any team signing him. Halladay, on the other hand, will pitch at 33 for most of next year, and although he, too, has been durable, the wear and tear will be of far greater concern to his new team. One talent evaluator said, "It's a lot easier to predict the health of a position player than a pitcher, especially if the position player is a couple of years younger." Halladay has thrown 710.1 innings over the last three seasons. The only pitcher who has more is CC Sabathia, who's totaled 779.1, including the postseason. The mitigating factor is Halladay has a deep arsenal and could continue to dominate even after his fastball recedes.
COSTThe obvious advantage is Holliday's since his cost is limited to cash only. Acquiring Halladay means surrendering multiple prospects and then negotiating a multiyear deal. That alone is enough to limit the field to the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. Holliday is being shopped at around $23 million per, and it appears as though the Cardinals are out of the running. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, GM John Mozeliak is dropping hints that he can't afford both Holliday and Albert Pujols (who's a free agent after 2011) and still keep the team's payroll around $100 million. The Cardinals gambled heavily on Holliday, hoping his partial-season rental would've been enough for a championship. Instead, they shipped several prospects to the A's, including blue chipper Brett Wallace, a third baseman. That failed swap has heightened the interest in Holliday, notably in Boston, where GM Theo Epstein is said to favor him over Jason Bay. But the Sox are in no hurry to make an offer to Boras, lest he take that to the Yankees.
IMPACTThere's no easy choice, as both players figure to vastly improve whatever team they join. Holliday's power numbers dropped predictably after leaving Colorado, going deep just once every 33 at-bats with the A's. But one talent evaluator said, "It's too small of a sample size" to say Holliday failed in the American League. "He would've come around (for the A's), he's just too good of a hitter not to," said the scout. Holliday redeemed himself with a second-half surge in St. Louis, batting .353 while cutting that HR ratio to one every 18 at-bats. His postseason mistakes aside, Holliday is considered a very good defender with a strong, accurate arm. Halladay's résumé speaks for itself, particularly in how he could help the Red Sox: according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Halladay's .750 winning percentage against the Yankees ranks third all-time among pitchers with at least 20 decisions against them. Overall, he's won more games than any pitcher in baseball since 2006 (69). One executive, however, is wary of Halladay for precisely that extensive body of work. "How many pitchers stay at a Cy Young level into their mid to late 30s?" he asked.