The rumor mill sprang to life this week as the Blue Jays announced that they would consider offers for 32 year-old, former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay. The Phillies, and any other team who figures they are in contention, are chomping at the bit for a chance to land the ace and it’s not hard to understand why.
First let me sing the praises of Doc Halladay. He is easily one of the Top 5 pitchers in the league. He is the definition of dominant, durable (2nd in innings pitched since ’07), overpowering (a low to mid 90’s fastball), and cunning (he throws a palmball…seriously a palmball).
The Phillies have officially taken the lead as far as suitors go (or as official as rumors go). The Jays reportedly want young, cheap, infield and pitching talent. And yet a deal has not happened and in my opinion, as one of the Philly faithful, it should not happen as long as the name J.A. Happ is in the mix.
I concede a comparison of Halladay and Happ is an unfair one. But we in Philly need to look at exactly what we’d get rid of. Since ’07 when J.A. made his big league debut he has lost 1 game. Again people 1 LOSS. Granted this is in only 14 starts, but there is not a pitcher in my recent memory that has been as impressive. This year he is 5-0 with a 3.04 era winning 1 game for every 2 starts. A simple projection across 162 games, and if ends up with 30 starts and we are looking at a 14-0 or 15-0 pitcher. That sounds like an ace to me and at 27 years-old with a cap hit of around $425,000, he is easily the best pitcher for the buck.
Again Halladay is an almost incomparable pitcher. His addition to the Phillies rotation would give them the best 1, 2 in the National League if not all of baseball. But the Phillies don’t need a Top 5 pitcher. A bumpy June has seemed to jade Phil’s fans to the fact that they have the modern day Murderers row (Werth, Howard, Utley and Ibanez are all on pace for 30+hrs and 100+RBI’s), a good to great bullpen and a mid-level rotation. What the Phillies need is consistency, a right-handed bat on the bench and a quality 5th starter.
Josh Johnson in Florida is the type of pitcher the Phillies could throw in any part of their rotation without selling the farm [system]. Or how about the Pirates who like a Sunday Flea Market consider any and all trades. Zach Duke is a stud waiting for a good offense to give him support. Hell last night Red’s pitcher Homer Bailey kept Phillies batters more off-balanced than our American economy (Do’h!). The likes of Oswalt, Garland, Bedard, Cain, and Haren have all been mentioned as trade fodder.
So one last time everyone, Halladay is great! He would give the Phillies a great shot to win a title this season and in 2010. But don’t forget the Phillies are a World Series team and J.A., who might not be as obviously dominant as Tim Lincecum or have the bright shiny packaging (aka “hype) of a David Price, has been the best pitcher on the Phillies staff this year. Ruben Amaro we know you’re aggressive and we know you want to push all your chips to the middle. But please think long and hard about J.A. Happ because, while there are no guarantees in baseball (Ahem…2002-2009 Yankees please step forward) J.A. has proven himself more than reliable in a rotation with plenty of questions.