Friday, July 9, 2010

Why the Rays make the most sense for Roy

Late last night, the New York Post's Joel Sherman broke that the Yankees were hot and heavy in talks with Seattle over Cliff Lee.

We know, thanks to McTaggart, that the Rays (among others) had scouts at the game yesterday looking at Roy - which leads to a larger point: What do major-league teams need to see from Roy that they don't already know? - presumably to scout him for a trade.

After Sherman's report, and the rumors discussing things like "finalized today," it seems as though the Yankees have just about locked it up. Which means there's a problem in the AL East, because the Yankees will have four All-Stars in the rotation (I guess they weren't content to let the Heat become the most-hated team in sports), and the Rays and Red Sox getting left behind.

At the close of play yesterday, the Yankees have a two-game lead on Tampa Bay, and a five-game lead on Boston. Boston has endured a staggering number of injuries, and - barring some Willis Reed s**t - I can't imagine them being able to hang with both TB and NYY. So let's just stop talking about the Red Sox right now.

The Rays have three games remaining with Cleveland before the All-Star Break, after which they meet, yes, the Yankees. Since Roy pitched yesterday, if this trade went down immediately, he could feasibly face the Yankees on the Saturday or Sunday game. And wouldn't the Rays love that?

The Rays' post-ASG is fairly brutal once you get past the first two series, until the second week of August: @BAL, @CLE, vDET, vNYY (again), vMIN. More importantly for the Rays, they still have 12 games against the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Yankees post-ASG schedule is as follows: vTB, vLAA, vKC, @CLE, @TB.

On to Tampa Bay's case for Roy: (1) Gerry Hunsicker. (2) Jim Hickey.

Hunsicker was The Man when Oswalt was drafted. And while Jim Hickey was Roy's pitching coach (mid-04 to end of 2006) Roy posted a 55-30 record, with a 3.14 ERA/1.21 WHIP. His ERA+ declined in each year from 2007-09.

So what would Tampa Bay give up? If the Astros pay a decent chunk of his salary, I'm guessing two good prospects. The Rays have four of Keith Law's Top 100 prospects. Since the Astros are pretty much set at outfield for the next few years, I can't imagine them asking for OF Desmond Jennings, which may suit the Rays as they plan for life without Carl Crawford.

Six of Keith Law's Top 10 Rays prospects are pitchers, and I could see the Astros wanting Jeremy Hellickson, who is 11-2 with a 3.18 ERA/1.14 WHIP (and 104K:26BB) at Triple-A Durham, and is just 23.

And probably Alex Torres, a 22-year old LHP with a 2.91 ERA/1.38 WHIP in Double-A and 91K in 83.2IP. Or Jake McGee, about to be 24-year old LHP with 79K in 67IP. Or LHP Matt Moore, who is just now 21, and has posted 398K:153BB in 283.2IP in 3+ seasons and is currently in High-A ball with 116Ks in 86IP.

It's incredibly doubtful that the Rangers will be able to add Roy before the deadline. The Mets don't like his price tag. The Twins could be players if the Yankees land Lee. But the fact is, the Rays have pitching to spare, and with Oswalt gone, and likely Myers, and maybe Wandy, the Astros will need to load up on pitching. The Rays would be motivated to stay in at least the Wild Card race (currently three games up on Boston) if the Yankees land Cliff Lee, and Prize B is Roy.