Taking a Chance: Roy Halladay


Roy Halladay Could Add Value and Character

After watching the Boston Red Sox get rid of several players, their huge contracts, and finish in last place in 2012, only to make smart additions and rise to the World Series title, I’m buying some new philosophies.

While character isn’t something that can be measured by a statistic like on-base percentage, WAR, and the all important RBI (kidding), there is certainly value there. The Red Sox took the “Boston Strong” mantra and became a team bonded by beards, developing a brotherhood within the clubhouse that could be viewed through a television screen, not just by a beat writer who followed the team every day.

The Cleveland Indians, long connected to the data-driven world of sabermetrics and analytics within baseball, seemed to find players with the same type of character and leadership qualities that came along with the Red Sox 2013 signings of Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. The “Brohio” leadership that came along with the chaw-filled smile of Nick Swisher and the passion that he brought to the field was a tremendous first step, and while some people may question the money that was spent on Swisher and Michael Bourn prior to the 2013 season, just wait until you see what Jacoby Ellsbury, a similar player to Bourn, earns in free agency this winter.

The smiles on the faces of the Indians and the fire and immeasurable “will to win” that Chicago White Sox broadcasting homer Hawk Harrelson says is most important to any baseball team and player seems to have earned a little more value this season. After Don Mattingly bashed his Los Angeles Dodgers team for a lack of grit and then watching them win about 60 out of 70 games, you have to wonder if the “will to win” is something that will be sought after in free agency.

Sep 23, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While Roy Halladay may have lost several miles per hour on his fastball, he hasn’t lost his character, and while he isn’t the same guy who went 170-75 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 2,194.2 inning from 2002 through 2011, he is still the same guy who can provide leadership for a contending, improving team.

With the Indians releasing Chris Perez and turning the back-end of the bullpen over to a potential incoming free agent, Bryan Shaw, or Cody Allen, couldn’t Halladay assist the possible young pitcher stepping into a challenging role? With young starters like Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar taking over full-time duties within the Tribe rotation, wouldn’t the leadership of Halladay provide valuable instruction in addition to pitching coach Mickey Callaway? Could Roy Halladay, in all of his two Cy Young awards and eight All-Star games, see something that could influence the makeup and skills of Nick Hagadone, Carlos Carrasco, or Trevor Bauer?

You see, baseball isn’t always about numbers, and while I am in love with the analysis of the game, I understand that there are some guys who aren’t worth the trouble that comes along with their numbers. In 2009, Roy Halladay said this:

“I try to be as helpful as I can, be a good person. I feel it’s more important to be a good person than a good pitcher. I had to get to the point I liked the person I was, regardless of what happened on the field. You play for a short period. Substance is more important. It’s more important that you’re a good father, a good husband and a good person in the community. That really defines who you are.”

When everyone seems to want to give up on Halladay for his inability to throw 90 miles per hour, he still has his character. When someone has the heart to look beyond his faults, you know that he is intelligent enough to overcome those faults, as well. Roy Halladay will win again, and the Cleveland Indians can be the team to help him do it.

His demise is far overstated.

Certainly, posting a 6.82 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP isn’t impressive, but the sample size was small and he was obviously dealing with an injury, an injury which required surgery (May 16, 2013) for a bone spur, partial rotator cuff, and frayed labrum. Shoulder injuries are brutal for careers, especially for aging pitchers with a lot of innings, but I have a name for you…Scott Kazmir. Kazmir didn’t have the career and longevity of innings behind him when his shoulder nearly ruined his career, but after being nearly out of baseball, he came back and tossed valuable innings while throwing absolute gas for the Indians in 2013. Am I saying  Roy Halladay is going to do the same thing? No, but it isn’t out of question that he was pitching so poorly in 2013 due to his injury and that a positive rebound can or will occur.

Credit: Fangraphs Screen Grab

Halladay is an interesting pitcher. He has reinvented himself once before, going to the minors late in 2000 and coming back with a cutter that made him one of the best pitchers in baseball for a decade. Now, he seems to be using a split instead of a change, while relying more on a weakened fastball and his slider. He may not begin throwing in the mid-90’s consistently, but you can see above…he never did.

It is hard to commit a lot of money to someone who is coming off of such a dreadful season, but if you look back at the 2013 season and see that the Indians got absolutely nothing out of Brett Myers for $7 million and they were still a playoff team. You can make a gamble on Roy Halladay for similar money. Additionally, the new Major League Baseball national television contracts kick in for the 2014 season and each club will be receiving an additional $25 million to use towards payroll, scouting, data, and marketing.

Roy Halladay may never win a Cy Young again, he may never reach 200 innings again, and he may never hit 90 miles per hour on a radar gun, but he can certainly provide a lot more positives than negatives in 2014.

Offering Roy Halladay a one-year, $10 million deal will provide Halladay an opportunity to prove what he has left, while providing the Indians with a much smarter investment than the one that they made in Myers in 2013, as Halladay has long been considered a tremendous clubhouse guy. If you don’t see that as an important trait, maybe you missed the Jason Giambi signing last week or the camaraderie of the entire Red Sox roster.

There is tremendous value in a Cleveland deal with RoyHalladay in 2014.