In the Blue Jays attempt to trade Roy Halladay the Philadelphia Phillies were the team considered by most insiders to be the favourites to land the big righty, and among the names the Blue Jays insisted be included was 27 year old lefty J.A. Happ. According to some reports, the Phillies would only include Happ or Kyle Drabek, but not both. He was even considered by some the integral piece in any potential trade and I found myself asking the same question over and over, why? On the surface, it appears Happ is having a pretty solid season with a 10-4 record, a shiny 2.77 ERA and a tidy 1.19 WHIP. But upon further review Happ wouldn’t even be the best Blue Jays pitcher this year, sans Halladay.
That honour would have belonged to 25 year old rookie southpaw Ricky Romero. Romero will always be forever linked to Colorado Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki as Tulo was the man the Jays apparently passed on in order to take Romero. The selection of Romero by most accounts was a relatively ‘off the board’ pick that took most GMs by surprise when the Jays decided to choose the Cal State Fullerton standout. Romero looked phenomenal in his first pro season posting a tidy 2.99 FIP and a solid 9.4 K/9 in 58.1 IPs in Class ‘A’ ball. He showed some inconsistency over the next couple of years but he bounced back in 2008 after he was promoted to ‘AAA’ and the light seemed to turn on for Romero and he started to show the faith shown in him was warranted.
Going into 2009 he was considered a long shot at best to make the Blue Jays rotation but Romero essentially gave Cito Gaston no option but to keep him with the big club. Romero started the season with a pretty impressive 21 IPs in April going 2-0 with a low 1.71 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Suddenly the name Tulowitzki wasn’t being brought up with the same vigour.
Romero throws harder than Happ (91.8 MPH vs 89.7) and also generates more swings and misses (78% contact rate vs 83) as well as outside-zone swings (24.4% vs 20.3). Romero has even suffered from relatively poor luck in comparison to Happ and this table gives a reflection of the seasons they are currently having:
I am not opposed to trading Roy Halladay but I do worry about most of the proposed offers that came out of the Philly/Toronto talks, I would think we could do better than a deal where the only (or best) arm we would’ve landed would be J.A. Happ. With a bit more refined control and command Ricky Romero could develop into a pretty decent #2 starter for the Jays going forward and Romero is the leader of a pack of fairly impressive lefties the Jays have debuted this season including Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski and David Purcey.