Last night the whole Travis Snider ordeal played out on Twitter to the sound of a potential call up if Brett Lawrie were to be headed to the disabled list with injury. In hind sight, it’s funny how quickly things change in 12 hours.
Instead, Snider was called up because a surprising and massive 10-player deal with the Houston Astros was completed that led to the Blue Jays acquiring J.A. Happ, while dumping off Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero and flood of prospects, including Asher Wojciechowski and Ted Musgrove, who were named Toronto’s 10th and 14th best prospects respectively heading into this year by Baseball America.
Happ made a splash in 2009, when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, struck out 6.5 per nine innings, had a respectable strikeout to walk ratio and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting. In fact, there were many rumors swirling that Toronto wanted Happ in the eventual Roy Halladay deal, way before the Phillies dangled names like Kyle Drabek and Travis d’Arnaud. Instead, Happ ended up in Houston, along with another prospect, Anthony Gose, and several others in the Roy Oswalt deal.
Happ has remained fairly solid since 2009, but even a 4.83 ERA is sadly a step up from what Ricky Romero has allowed this season. Happ’s K/9 numbers have gone up, but his hits need to drop while in Toronto. Either way, he automatically comes in as a better option for the rotation than say Jesse Chavez, although Happ will begin his Toronto stay in the bullpen.
If Happ moves to the rotation, I doubt many people saw a proposed rotation of Romero, Happ, Cecil, Villeneuva and Alverez/Laffey at this point in the season. I do believe at some point Happ will overtake one of those starting pitchers within the next couple of weeks.
Toronto also receives Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter in the deal, which will help out a depleted bullpen that had to call up guys in AA-New Hampshire that really had no business making the majors this season.
Lyon completes his circle of baseball life in this deal. He was originally drafted by the Blue Jays, climbed the ladder, and last pitched in Toronto in 2002 before being placed on waivers and was claimed by Boston.
This time Lyon enters Toronto as a bullpen-exclusive guy, likely joining Jason Frasor in the set-up role. He’s boasted a much better resume than many relievers Toronto has relied on, while a 3.25 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 this season is fairly solid. It’d be nice to get the Brandon Lyon of Arizona or Detroit, but I think Jays fans will settle for anyone not named Francisco Cordero, Robert Coello, Jesse Chavez or Sam Dyson in the bullpen at the moment. (Not Sam Dyson’s fault)
Carpenter is a converted catcher turned pitcher with an 0-2 record and a 6.02 ERA in 30 games this season, but the 26-year-old might just be in a sophomore slump. Last year, he posted a much more respectable 2.93 ERA in 30 appearances as a rookie. He also hovers around a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is decent — but the hits allowed needs to improve. He, unlike Lyon, will be a middle relief guy. He’ll be an intriguing player to watch, but will start his organizational stint in Las Vegas’ bullpen.
As for winners in this deal, it is fairly easy to say Houston won, especially with the prospects they’ve received. However, prospects are never actual answers. They may turn into All-Stars, and they may even fizzle out before the majors. But, at this point it’s hard to tell which will happen. The map looks promising for several of the prospects Houston has received, but if Toronto can get back into the mix with this deal, I’d say it was a move that had to be done. And, if Travis Snider turns into the player he’s expected to be and has shown flashes of, this deal also allows him to contribute.
It’s too early to determine whether this trade has winners or losers, or even if it was worth pulling the trigger on. All we know is Toronto just got help in the rotation and bullpen, and that’s what the Jays need most.