After a few weeks of pining over Roy Halladay, it appeared as though any move the Phillies could make that didn’t involve Toronto’s ace would be construed as some sort of failure. I know both myself and Mike did little to veer the train of conventional thought away from that avenue.
But here we are, proud owners of a shiny, new Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco, with a farm system none the worse for wear as a result.
I, for one, could not be more pleased with what has transpired today. So, just as any Phillies blogger in his rightful mind would do, I am squashing the thought of possibly being contaminated by some bum food and writing up some trade reaction! I love baseball.
Consider that, just 72 hours or so ago, the Phillies may have had to part with Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and J.A. Happ in order to pry Halladay loose from J.P. Ricciardi’s icy fingers. Would it have been worth it? Without question. The evolution of today’s Cliff Lee deal, however, shows that the Phillies absolutely made the right move in improving their club.
. GS IP ERA K BB WHIP FIP
Lee 22 152 3.14 107 33 1.30 3.21
Halladay 19 141 2.62 123 20 1.05 2.70
Is Halladay the better pitcher? Of course. I don’t think any rational mind will try to persuade you to believe otherwise. But while the Phillies didn’t nab the best pitcher out there, they managed to appease the divided Philadelphia crowd.
One faction wanted to throw all the chips into the pot for a chance at winning again, and winning immediately. Mike and I both were more heavily in bed with this camp than any other. Knowing that your core of incredibly talented players is approaching an average age of 30, the clock seems to tick a bit faster. Think Robin Williams in “Jack.” The feeling of winning seems so fresh and new, but the body of the team ages quickly and doesn’t have a great, gaping window of opportunity to enjoy all the good that comes with winning.
In acquiring Lee, the Phillies addressed their biggest hole. Having four lefties, presumably, in Hamels, Lee, Moyer and Happ in a single rotation has little effect on how the Phillies do business. Hamels is a hybrid power/deception pitcher, Lee has excellent breaking stuff and has monumentally improved control to go with lower homer rates, Moyer relies 127 percent on deception, and Happ uses a tricky delivery and good fastball position – with some luck, yes – to get batters out. Hamels and Lee may need to be split to keep batters eyes out of focus, but that’s a problem one would like to have.
The price tag, also, was substantially lower than Halladay’s. Every single player that Toronto required of the Phils – Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and J.A. Happ – is still in Philadelphia. Michael Taylor, too, lives to see another day in Lehigh Valley. Considering the obstacles facing a few of the players surrendered, it made perfect sense to deal them while their value was still high.
Lou Marson, while a nice catching prospect and probably the player who would’ve been most useful to the Phillies had he stayed, simply could not get on the big league roster and stay. Hell, Paul Bako got preferential treatment. Whether it’s something to do with his personality or performance is something I just don’t know. I think he deserved a shot with us, but he served just as good a purpose in this deal. Jason Donald, bless his heart, just plays the wrong position(s) at the wrong time. Jimmy Rollins, probably, isn’t going anywhere for a while, Chase Utley will die a Philly, and Pedro Feliz is likely to have his option picked up for 2010 with his performance this season, including a surprise offensive surge.
Carlos Carrasco, the preseason top prospect in the organization, has had difficulty finding a groove in Triple-A. He mixes great starts with confusingly bad starts far too often. But, at 22, he still has a good amount of value. Jason Knapp, the other pitcher involved here, is a smokeballer who hasn’t even reached 20 years of age. He’s far, far away from contributing at a Major League level, and has no place in the championship aspirations of this current Phillies squad.
Now, that only emphasizes the points that work as consolation for their loss. Believe me, these are all nice players who should see good Major League time in Cleveland, even though Marson faces stiff competition in Carlos Santana and Kelly Shoppach.
Oh, and throw in that ever-elusive bench bat in the trade – outfielder Ben Francisco – and you have yourself a tidy little deal.
Will the Phillies turn around and use their remaining top guns to deal for Halladay? Incredibly unlikely. But what they have will, suffice to say, be a major improvement, and a welcome one at that.