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My epic Halladay/Lee post, and Bob Ford is a flip-flopper

Posted by David Foley On December - 17 - 2009

Ruben Amaro Jr. follows up a home run by hitting into a unassisted triple play to Eric Bruntlett

Put simply; the trade that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia was an outstanding move by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (who will be referred to as RAJ from here on out.) I know plenty Phillies fans were upset the team gave up Kyle Drabek, but when you have a chance to add one of the three best pitchers in all of baseball to a World Series team you pull the trigger. Drabek is still at least another year away from making an impact in the Majors while Halladay immediately makes the Phils a dramatically better team.

What’s the problem then? Why am I frustrated as hell despite the fact that we added an absolute stud to the top of our rotation? Because as good as the Halladay trade was, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle was that bad. Not only did the Phillies not get fair market value for Lee (and that may be an understatement), they rushed a decision that they still had quite a bit of time to make. Why move Lee right now?!? The Phils could have held on to him through the All-Star break and kept trying to work out an extension, and if Lee still insisted on becoming a free agent RAJ could have traded him before the deadline and gotten more for the Cy Young winner from another contender (the prospect haul would have been a lot better; just ask the Blue Jays, who are seriously regretting not trading Halladay before last season’s deadline.)

Perfect metaphor for the situation? RAJ was dealt two aces in a Texas Hold’em game but panicked, over-bet on the flop, and scared everyone else out of the hand. Sure he won the blinds, but how much more could he have ended up with if he had just been more patient? Who knows how much a team like the Angels may have been willing to give for a pitcher like Lee, especially to keep him away from their division rivals? We may never know.

Now before all ten of you Mariner fans get too excited, this deal isn’t as fantastic for you as it may at first seem. Despite having a terrific top of the rotation, they still have a lot of work ahead of them to stand a chance at winning the AL West, and their chances of re-signing Lee prior to him becoming a free agent are next to none. In all likelihood Cliff Lee is going to end up in a different uniform next season, so you Mariners fan(s) tell me if that was worth three of your better prospects. If you win the division and make a long playoff run? Maybe. But if you tank and finish third again (much more likely to happen) it absolutely wasn’t.

Still, the real losers in the trade were the Phillies, for the sheer fact that they rushed a Cliff Lee trade instead of playing the market and seeing how much they really could get for him. Hell, in a perfect world they’d keep Lee at least through the All-Star break and practically guarantee themselves another division title, but I guess that would have impacted the bottomline a bit too much and made a wee bit too much sense. A pity, really.

Just how much of an upgrade is Halladay over Lee?

Over and over the past few days on ESPN the talking heads repeated the same question; “is Halladay that big an upgrade over Cliff Lee?” The consensus answer? He is better, but only slightly. These people are morons. Just look at the career numbers between the two pitchers…

Cliff Lee’s ERA/WHIP over the past four years:

2006: 4.40/1.41

2007: 6.29/1.54

2008: 2.54/1.11 (Cy Young)

2009: (with Cleveland) 3.14/1.30

2009: (with Philly) 3.39/1.13

Lee is a very good pitcher, but throughout his career he has been either brilliant, or awful. People are quick to point out how outstanding he was in the ’09 playoffs, but how soon they forget how inconsistent he was over the final few weeks of the season. From August 29th to September 25th Lee gave up six or more earned runs in three out of six starts. It’s not like the teams that torched him were that good either (Atlanta, Houston, and Milwaukee.)

As for Roy Halladay?

2006: 3.19/1.10

2007: 3.71/1.24

2008: 2.78/1.05

2009: 2.79/1.13

Halladay’s numbers are clearly more consistent across the board, and he was playing in a division with much more high-powered offenses. Also, remember Lee’s struggles down the stretch last season? (Giving up six or more earned runs in three starts.) Halladay gave up six or more runs just once all season.

While Cliff Lee is no sloutch, Roy Halladay is clearly the better pitcher. I rest my case.

Bob Ford thinks the Halladay trade was a good deal, unless it wasn’t, in which case Bob Ford thinks it was a horrible deal

RAJ is either brilliant, or an idiot according to Bob Ford.

I always laugh when people spend serious time contemplating why newspapers are dying. A large part of it is because they bring you news that has been available for free on the internet a day late. Another part of it is because the papers don’t offer enough compelling material to, you know, actually read.

Case in point: Bob Ford’s Inquirer column on Wednesday. You really don’t even need to read it because I summed it up quite nicely in bold italics above for you.

Some excerpts:

“It could be [Halladay] will be worth every dime, and the Phillies certainly hope so.

…Does that mean Amaro was wrong not to make the deal for Halladay in the summer, or that he is wrong to do so now?

…No, what Amaro did was right at the time, and will continue to be right until Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, and Jason Knapp lead the Indians to the World Series. That’s the way baseball works, and the same goes for the trades Amaro has constructed with Toronto and Seattle…

…All we have really learned this week is that the Phillies, despite two trips to the World Series and despite drawing 3.5 million fans to their little, brick cash register, are not willing to spend what it would have taken to get Halladay and to keep Lee.

…Perhaps that really wasn’t feasible, even if it meant letting Lee play out his free-agent season for $9 million and then watching him walk.

…The Phillies are going to say it wasn’t feasible. Ownership wants to keep the payroll around $140 million, which seems like an entirely reasonable business approach.

The question is whether it will still seem reasonable four years from now, when the core of the current Phillies team is crumbling, that second World Series title never materialized, and the Blue Jays and Indians are playing in the American League Championship Series.

It’s the chance you take for being reasonable.”

Let’s take Bob’s column and apply it to my everyday life, just to put it in perspective…

So I’m on my lunch break, and I need to decide between a ham sandwich and a cheeseburger. One of these two will be well worth my money, or so I hope. Is there even a right decision between these two, or would I be better off saving my money to spend on more alternative food in the future?

Well I’ll go with the ham sandwich, and I hope that was the better option. It might or might not be at this point. If I get home later and I am gassy, it was probably the wrong choice. I could also get home and realize the cheeseburger was what I really wanted all along. That would suck. Then the cheeseburger will be leading the Indians to a World Series and I’ll be stuck with my damn ham sandwich…

Ok ok I lost myself there for a minute but you get my point. Ford manages to flip-flop more in 875 words than John Kerry did throughout his entire Presidential campaign. He even managed to make Brett Favre look decisive. What happened Bob, you forgot you had to write a column so at the last second you decided to mail one in “Randy Moss against the Panthers” style? ANYONE COULD WRITE GARBAGE LIKE THAT; PICK A DAMN SIDE AND STICK TO IT!

Let the Roy Halladay Era commence

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 16 - 2009

HalladayGrayJaysThe Phillies have made it official. Roy Halladay is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, well, after the 5 PM press conference takes place.

According to our boy Todd Zolecki, Clifton Phifer Lee has been traded to Seattle for OF Tyson Gillies, RHP Phillipe Aumont and RHP Juan Ramirez.

This has cleared the way for the Halladay trade to happen. The Phillies will be shipping Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud to get Halladay and $6 million in cash.  Taylor will immediately be flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace in another trade.

Got all that? Good.

Halladay has also agreed to the 3 year extension worth $60 million with a vesting option for a fourth year. That means the best pitcher in baseball with be in red pinstripes through at least 2013.

The two trades are separate, not a three team deal. The Lee deal allows the Phils to keep their farm system stocked and not lose Lee at the end of the season with nothing to show for it. The Halladay deal gets them a proven ace at a below market deal. It’s good to see someone take less money to play for a winner. I’m sure the players union is thrilled about that.

Either way, the Phillies have raised the bar yet again for the National League. After years of feasting on the likes of the Yankess and Red Sox, the lineups of the Nationals, Marlins, and Mets must look very appealing to Halladay.

I’ll see you on Broad Street in late October.

Why the Halladay & Lee trade makes sense

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 15 - 2009

HalladayBlackJaysSo there seems to be a lot of people upset about this blockbuster trade that will bring Roy Halladay to Philadlephia and send Cliff Lee to Seattle. The trade makes sense for many reasons.

The biggest, however, is money. The Phillies may have a payroll of $140 million and be the two time defending NL champions with a crazy fan following, but they still act a bit small market at times.

When the Phillies failed to get Halladay at the trading deadline, they turned their sights to Lee, who didn’t disappoint. Lee was dominant in the World Series, further backing up the trade.

With the season over, and Lee eligible for free agency after the 2010 season, talks turned toward signing Lee to a long term deal. However, after seeing the deal that C.C. Sabathia got, 7 years and $161 million, Lee wants to test the FA market. Can you really blame him?

Those kind of numbers put him out of the Phillies range. With a likely bidding war over his services after this upcoming season likely, it was wise for the Phillies to get rid of Lee when they could get a decent return for him.

The only way this all goes down is if Roy Halladay would sign an extension. He has said he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the Phillies, and would even take a “winning team” discount. He wants to pitch for a winner and he wants to pitch for them now. The talk is that Halladay has agreed to a 3 year extension through 2013 that will pay him $20 million a year with a vesting option for 2014. That’s a steal.

Doc is the best pitcher in the game and being able to get him under market value was something the Phillies had to take advantage of. This is the linchpin to the entire deal. If Halladay wouldn’t sign a long term deal at a number the Phillies didn’t like, this trade would never happen. Lee turned down an extension and set the wheels in motion.

Now, there are a few things to think about. What if the Phils had been able to dump Joe Blanton and his $7 million salary on someone? The Phillies would have done that in a heartbeat and kept Lee for this year along with Halladay, letting Lee walk at the end of the year and bagging two draft picks in return.

Others have said, what’s another $8 million when they’re already spending $140 million? The line has to be drawn somewhere. As much as we’d like it to be, the Phillies (and their owners) are not the Yankees and Red Sox. They can’t just buy everyone they want. When someone big comes along, a price has to be established. Cliff Lee was going to be over that price.

Now, pretty much every prospect in the Phillies organization has been linked to this deal, so we won’t know the full extent of the damages until it’s finalized. It could be a high price to pay for the top pitcher in baseball.

The Phillies are built to win within the next few years. Not every prospect is going to pan out. I’d take a proven winner for the next four years over some unproven prospects any day, and it seems as if Ruben Amaro is thinking the same way.

Ryan Howard not amongst the top 100 of the ’00s? Pssshhh..

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 15 - 2009

Ryan Howard MeditationSo ESPN’s Rob Neyer posted an article yesterday about the “Top 100 Players of the Decade.” You can read it here.

Neyer based his rankings on, quoting from his article;

I took a shortcut, ranking the players (including pitchers) by wins above replacement (with a great deal of help from Baseball Projection.com). From there, it was relatively easy to arbitrarily bump players up and down the list based on quality of competition, postseason performance and pure excellence. (Six great seasons are better than eight good ones.)

Going through the list, a few former Phillies are on the list. Scott Rolen at #11. Bobby Abreu at #16. Curt Schilling at #21. J.D. Drew (technically not a former Phillie) at #22. Jim Thome and Pedro Martinez are at 27 and 28 respectively.

The first current Phillie on the list is Chase Utley at #37. After that comes Placido Polanco at #46, J-Roll at #52, and Jamie Moyer rounds out the list at #100.

Notice anyone missing? Yup, the Big Piece.

How can you put a list together of the top 100 players of the 2000′s and not include Ryan Howard? He has pretty much singlehandedly changed the Philadelphia Phillies organization.  During his time here, he, along with Uts and J-Roll, have turned the franchise from a sad-sack loser into a consistent winner, not to mention being a Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, and NLCS MVP.

During his six seasons, which all came during this decade obviously, Howard has 222 HRs. He was the fastest player in major league history to get to 200.  He also has 640 RBI, averaging 142 over a full season.

To have a list like this and not include Ryan Howard is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter what “wins over a replacement player” value someone has. Ryan Howard is easily amongst the top 100 players of the game, if not the top 10.

If a “blogger” had put up this piece, traditional media would have a field day with it. However, since he works for ESPN, which is hardly the source for credible news these days, he can get away with it.

There is no way a list like this should come out and Ryan Howard not be on it.

Twitter was the fuel behind the Halladay & Lee rumors

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 14 - 2009

HalladayJaysWhite.jpgA few days ago, well respected baseball writer Ken Rosenthal posted this article, in which he said Cliff Lee could be involved in a trade for Roy Halladay.

He was widely panned for it, basing the entire idea on a “hunch” he had.

When rumors began to swirl today that the Phillies were very close to acquiring Roy Halladay, even saying that Doc and his agent had checked into a Philadelphia hotel.

All of these rumors had been passed around via Twitter. Now, it’s not news to anyone how much Twitter has changed the face of news, especially when it comes to sports. As soon as a piece of sports-related news is out, all of the beat writers race to get their news out there first.

The Phillies have a great group of beat writers, and all of them have embraced this new media. You can follow all of them here, courtesy of Kevin McGuire.

Going from there, once these rumors get posted to Twitter, it’s only a matter of time before the entire Phillies contingent on Twitter was going crazy over the trade that would bring Doc Halladay to Philly. Of course, this led to all kinds of crazy trade discussions in which the Phillies were losing a slew of prospects along with Clifton Phifer.

These rumors almost started a riot amongst Phillies fans, just by a few people writing something small about a trade with the Phillies.

Twitter has enabled the masses to be involved along with the traditional media in news being covered. Now, that’s not always a good thing, but in years past, fans didn’t know things until the reporters decided to post an article online or even wait for the article to be printed in the newspaper. Now, fans can know what the beat writers know almost immediately.

The bad part however is that it just prolongs the misery of all these dreadful trade rumors….

Phillies take Kenneth Herndon in Rule 5 draft. What the hell is Rule 5?

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 10 - 2009

HerndonThe Phillies took pitcher Kenneth Herndon, from Anaheim, in the 2009 Rule 5 draft this morning. He was in Triple A for the Angels last season after being a 5th round pick in 2006. Looks like a solid young arm to add to the organization.

From AngelsWinBlog:

Herndon throws a heavy fastball, hitting 94-95 MPH that he likes to pound the inner half with, making it hard for hitters to extend their arms. Herndon also flashes a tight slider, though it can use more tilt to generate more whiffs, and he features an average offspeed offering. Herndon has exceptional control, walking just 16 batters in 100.2 innings pitched.

The Rule 5 draft can be pretty confusing if you’re not aware of what it is exactly. The goal of the draft is to keep teams from stockpiling major league-caliber talent in their minor league systems when other teams would be willing to have them play in the majors.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s forty man roster and were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or  were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

If a player is picked, he must be carried on the drafting team’s 25 man major league roster for the entire season, or offered back to the original team for a fee.

There have been a lot of notable players drafted in the Rule 5. Shane Victorino was drafted twice in the Rule 5. Dan Uggla, Johan Santana and Josh Hamilton have also changed teams during the Rule 5 draft. Hell,  Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 draftee.

You can read more about the Rule 5 draft here.

Teams can find gems, it just takes some work. The draft was put into place to level the playing field a bit, and it seems to be working out pretty well.

In other Rule 5 news, the Mets took Triple A pitcher Carlos Monasterios from the Phillies and then flipped him to the Dodgers for cash.

So, Ross Gload, huh?

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 9 - 2009

RossGloadMarlinsWord came out of the Winter Meetings last night that the Phillies have found the last player for their bench in 2010.

Ross Gload was signed to a 2 year deal, according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.

Gload has a career .283 BA over eight seasons with the Cubs, Rockies, White Sox, Royals and Marlins. In 2009 with the Fish, he hit .261 with 6 home runs and 30 RBI in 230 at-bats. He also pitched an inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.

By signing Gload, it appears that the Phillies have rounded out their bench for next season. Gload will be the 5th member of the bench, joining outfielder Ben Francisco, catcher Brian Schneider and infielders Greg Dobbs and Juan Castro.

While this may be the last move the Phillies make, they’ll also likely invite Matt Stairs back on a Minor League deal to spring training and see if he can make the club again. I’m sure he’d like to play more regularly, but at this point in his career, it’s all about being part of a winning team.

So far, it appears as if Ruben Amaro has done what he can to upgrade the Phillies bench. Others can still be signed to keep the competition level up in spring training, but I’d be surprised if Amaro makes any more moves with the bench. He can now move on to shoring up the pitching for  next year.

Why the Phillies should trade Shane Victorino or Jayson Werth

Posted by David Foley On December - 8 - 2009

As good as your team was the year before, that all becomes irrelevant once the Winter Meetings come along. Every Major League team with the financial means will be looking to improve their roster, and the runners-up in the ’09 World Series are no different. The Phillies have already been rumored to be going after a quality relief pitcher (particularly Brandon Lyon) and they are dangling Joe Blanton to teams to free up some salary space for presumably another big move.

This is all fine and dandy. After Ruben Amaro Jr.’s moves to bring in Raul Ibanez and Clifton Phifer Lee last season I have total trust that he can do what is necessary to make this team better. But with the Yankees potentially landing Curtis Granderson, it will take more than a bullpen upgrade to reclaim the World Series. The Phillies need to make a bold move to separate themselves from the pack in the National League…

With Polanco in town, where does Shane hit in the Phillies lineup?

With Polanco in town, where does Shane hit in the Phillies lineup?

The Phillies need to trade either Shane Victorino or Jayson Werth.

Now before you…HEY! STOP LAUGHING! Seriously!

We all learned the hard way against the Evil Empire that good pitching trumps an outstanding lineup 9 out of 10 times once the postseason rolls around. Do you really feel confident with Cole Hamels being the #2 behind Cliff Lee? What if he struggles again? Do you think Joe Blanton can have another strong season like he did in ’09? He sure wasn’t great in the playoffs. What about J.A. Happ? Will hitters start making adjustments against him now that they’ve seen him for a full season? Don’t even get me started on the currently vacant fifth spot in the rotation: Jamie Moyer is finished, and Kyle Kendrick…ummm…is still Kyle Kendrick.

The Phils clearly need another quality starter, a guy who can take the mound behind Lee in the rotation and shut other teams down. How do you go about shoring up a weakness? By dealing from strength. The Phils outfield is loaded not just on the Big League team, but in the minors as well.

Say you move Shane Victorino for a #2 starter (someone like a Josh Johnson, or dare I say a Roy Halladay?)…Jayson Werth could slide over from right, or you could just plug Ben Francisco in the starting lineup. With Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown waiting in the wings in the Minors, and plenty of names available in free agency (including Rick Ankiel, Coco Crisp, and Mike Cameron, a solid center fielder in his own right who hit 24 homers last season) replacing Shane would not be as tough a task as it may seem. What about Werth? Again Francisco could start if need be, but you could also make a big move in free agency and go after a Jason Bay or a Matt Holliday. Those guys too rich for your blood? Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, Xavier Nady, and Randy Winn could all split time with Francisco in right. Again, plenty of replacement options if need be.

If you asked me to pick one of the two to move it would be Victorino. With Placido Polanco in town (another #2 hitter) where does Shane hit in the Phillies lineup? He doesn’t have the power to protect the big bats and his skill set would be wasted at the bottom of the lineup. The centerfield free agent crop is also stronger than the corner outfield spots.

Obviously moving either of those two guys is not something Philly fans will love, but when they see a rotation headed by Lee, *insert another dominant pitcher here*, and Hamels leading them back to the World Series they won’t really care. Yes, Shane brings some electrifying speed to the table and Jayson is one of the most patient hitters in baseball, but both can be replaced, and the player(s) we’d get in return could help fill other major holes. Also the Phillies strong outfield prospects are going to need a shot at the Majors eventually; why not deal an asset like Victorino or Werth when their value is at its peak?

I’m not saying any of this is going to happen, but the worst thing you can do as an organization when you are at the top is get complacent. The Phillies need to keep finding ways to improve, even if it requires some unorthodox thinking along the way.

The third Phinally Philly Podcast!

Posted by David Foley On December - 4 - 2009
How will Peter Laviolette fit in Philly? Find out on the Phinally Philly Podcast!

How will Peter Laviolette fit in with the Flyers? Find out on the Phinally Philly Podcast!

The third Phinally Philly Podcast is online! Grab it from iTunes. Chris Shafer and yours truly discuss the Flyers big coaching change, and the returns of Allen Iverson and Placido Polanco!

Your reactions to the Placido Polanco signing

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 4 - 2009

PlacidoPolancoAs we all know by now, the Phillies signed Placido Polanco to be their new 3rd baseman yesterday. The former Phillie comes back after being traded away in June of 2005 to make room for Chase Utley.

The contract seems kind of high to me, at 3 years and $18 million dollars, but Polanco is a multiple Gold Glove winner, albeit at 2nd base, not 3rd. He has played 3rd base in the past, even some during his first Phillies tenure, but hasn’t played there regularly for a while.

Once Detroit passed on offering Polanco arbitration, he jumped to the top of the Phillies’ list. Since they won’t have to give up their first round pick with this signing, they keep the pick around in case they want to sign a Type A free agent pitcher or even keep the pick for themselves.

There seems to be a mixed reaction to this signing. I think he will be a solid 3rd baseman, not as good defensively as Feliz was, but his offensive numbers will make up for that. This infield of Howard, Utley, Rollins, & Polanco could be the best infield in the major leagues.

There were a lot of responses to this, both in our Twitter feed and on our Facebook page. I’ve pulled some of them and put them here.

Frank Taney: “Great move in my opinion; a real upgrade.”

Matt Tate: “Bad move – could of done much better.”     (They couldn’t have done much better without giving up a lot more $$ and/or draft picks -KK)

Kevin McGuire, resident CFB expert: “I think it is a good move, for 2010. Down the line is another question. Good glove and bat in my eye.” (I agree 100% -KK)

Kevin Homer: “Polanco is fine. Figgins would have been fun but this is still a slight upgrade and keeps money free for the real prob (pitching)”

Brendan C. Mooney: “not sure , obviously at 2nd he’s one of best fielders in biz, thoughts on batting him 2, shane 1 and jimmy down the order?” (Not going to happen. J-Roll would never give up the leadoff spot. I see Vic dropping down -KK)

Laura Shunta: “I think it’s horrible. Shoulda gone for Beltre. Not entirely sure why we had to give up Feliz in the 1st place. Brilliant defense!”

Dale Hein: “Why would he come back here to play third, when he left he only wanted to play second. I say Glaus or Figgins would be a better fit.” (Simple: He wants to win. -KK)

Ryan Gillen: “I’d rather see Chone or DeRosa at third personally, I believe they’re better options”

Obviously, there is a mixed reaction to this signing. He’s going to cost more than Felix would have, so he’s got to show an improvement. Only 71 days until we start to find out.

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