I know, it stings to hear things put so bluntly in reference to Philly’s latest cult hero, but that’s exactly what J.A. Happ is at this moment.
Excellent trade bait. Happ currently sports a 6-0 record, a 2.90 ERA, and a whole lot of love and affection in Philly, in addition to a link with Roy Halladay trade rumors.
If trading J.A. Happ could spare the inclusion of a top prospect, the Phils and Happ absolutely must part ways, and it’s not even worth much debate.
See that record and ERA a couple lines up? Smoke and mirrors. Perfectly timed, but smoke and mirrors, nonetheless. Happ has struck out 61 and walked 32 in 87 innings. He’s also allowed 11 homers. That’s a K/BB ratio below 2:1 (not good, in fact the worst of anyone who has made at least seven starts for the Phils this year) and a HR/9 above 1.1 (not great, but not terrible).
What really stands out, though, is Happ’s FIP, or Fielder Independent Pitching. This number calculates something closer to “true” performance, or what Happ’s ERA would look like were it not for the defense behind him.
Happ’s FIP is 4.51, a full run and a half above his actual ERA. That’s an incredibly dangerous sign. Couple that with an unsustainably low .242 opponent average on balls in play – or BABIP – and one begins to see that a trade of Happ really wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
In fact, it could be the best.
Consider this: what if, given Happ’s surface stats and good ERA, J.A. could be placed in a trade package for Roy Halladay in place of a top prospect like Michael Taylor, Lou Marson, or even Kyle Drabek? The Phillies could parlay an overachieving starter and a couple very good prospects – as opposed to the alternative of three to four very good prospects – into Roy Halladay.
Seems a bit easier to swallow, doesn’t it?
As a footnote, the ZiPS projection system has Happ sporting a 5.37 ERA for the rest of 2009, whereas Halladay is projected to twirl a 3.33 ERA in the American League. You tell me which one you’d rather have, especially if it means saving a top prospect.