Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Halladay Shopping

It looks like the 4-team mega-trade is finally complete and Roy Halladay will be a Phillie. Yesterday's write-up was premature, but now the pieces seem to be in place. So here's the breakdown:

Phillies get:
Roy Halladay (from Toronto)
Phillippe Aumont, RHP (from Seattle)
Tyson Gillies, OF (from Seattle)
Juan Ramirez, RHP (from Seattle)
$6 million cash (from Toronto)

Mariners get:
Cliff Lee (from Philadelphia)

Blue Jays get:
Travis D'Arnaud, C (from Philadelphia)
Kyle Drabek, RHP (from Philadelphia)
Brett Wallace, 1B/3B (from Oakland)

A's get:
Michael Taylor (from Philadelphia via Toronto)

So there it is. The Phillies give up Lee and three of their top prospects in return for Halladay and three of the Mariners' top prospects. It's an interesting trade. Getting rid of Lee is a tough sell after he was so dominant in a Phillies uniform; especially considering that the Phillies could have conceivably dealt prospects to Toronto and kept Lee, perhaps dealing Blanton to save some money. But the goal was to maintain the present and secure the future.

By making this trade the way they did, the Phillies will have an elite pitcher through 2013, as Halladay agreed to a 3-year extension, and they will do so without depleting their farm system. The general consensus seems to be that the prospects the Phillies acquired are not quite as good as the ones they gave up, but they are still legitimate prospects. (I would like to point out this quote from ESPN's Keith Law in his breakdown of the deal: "Tyson Gillies is among the fastest men in baseball and has a decent approach at the plate." Hmm, does that scouting report remind you of anyone? Oh, perhaps, PPB favorite Michael Bourn? Just saying...) So instead of depleting their farm system they may have just downgraded it slightly. And they did manage to keep Dominic Brown, their top hitting prospect.

The one thing I don't get is that I kept reading that the Phillies' refusal to keep Brown out of the trade was the primary stumbling block in keeping the Phillies from trading for Halladay straight out, without dealing Lee or involving other teams...but all Toronto got was three Phillies prospects not named 'Dominic Brown.' Maybe that trade could have been worked out once the Blue Jays agreed to send Taylor to the A's, but the Phillies stuck with this plan as not to devastate the team down the road.

I also find it very interesting that the Phillies were suddenly willing to include Drabek in the deal. Wasn't this the guy the Phillies outright refused to trade last summer? Considering that they had no problem giving him away now, that Brown had gained the status of #1 prospect, and considering Drabek's injury history, it makes me wonder whether the Phillies brass knows something about Drabek that we don't. Just putting that out there...

In the short term, it's hard to say what kind of impact the trade will have. Halladay is a great pitcher, but so is Lee. It's certainly safe to say the team is shaping up to be better than last year, as a full season out of Halladay/Lee should make the rotation much more daunting. And one would hope that Halladay can have a positive impact on Cole Hamels (and that Hamels' psyche isn't damaged by the constant 'ace' talk that he hasn't been a part of).

Overall I'm not thrilled with the trade. It seems like a waffling sort of move for a team that can't decide whether to go for it all now or to stay competitive for longer. I'm all for multiple division titles a la the '90s Atlanta Braves, but being consistently 'very good' doesn't tend to win you as many titles as having a couple years of being 'great'. Just ask the Eagles. Personally, I would've gone for broke while the team's core is still in its prime.

However, if nothing else, the trade maintains the status quo for 2010 and allows the team to retain a proven ace through 2013. It may not make us a virtual lock for the World Series this year, but then again, in October there really is no such thing as a 'lock.' It's pretty much a crapshot. So if this helps us get to the playoffs for the next 3-4 years, perhaps that's the best we can hope for.

1 comment:

Jeff Raab said...

There was really no reason for Seattle to be involved. It sounds like the main reason for the Cliff Lee part of the deal was the payroll. The Phillies were already approaching their budget limit and they basically decided that with Halladay and Lee, the budget would have been too high.

I would have said, to hell with it, and just kept Lee. Do they think that the team would have trouble financially or from a marketing perspective with a rotation of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ? Not to mention, having Lee and Halladay is just as good as acquiring a bullpen pitcher. Halladay, I might point out, does have a bit of an injury history. Keeping Lee would have been security that the season wouldn't go down the drain.

If the Phillies decided to finally give up Drabek (for some bizarre reason), then why not simply make the one move, have a stacked team for next year, completely dominate the National League and just about any American League team. Now, Boston and New York have fantastic trios at the top of the rotation. If nothing else, they can't re-sign Lee, which sucks, but frankly, if they win the Series, he'll have done his job in his time here.

Deciding to get Halladay is fine. That's just the direction the club wanted to go. But to then trade away Lee leaves the team more or less where they already were. Take a chance, go over the payroll, and win a Series while they still have everyone next year.