Monday, December 29, 2014

Halladay on ice: The best trade the Phillies never made

Halladay on ice: The best trade the Phillies never made

Phillies Phever (the actual phenomenon, not the late '70s disco version) is only going to grow between now and October, as it should. Visions of unassisted triple plays, Ryan Howard going deep to left and right in the same game, and the most unflappable Lee to wear a grey road uniform since Manassas are already dancing in our heads. But it wasn't preordained to turn out this way.

In an alternate universe, Roy Halladay pitched for the Phillies today. And they got clobbered. Check out what happened in the reality-based world:

TORONTO -- Cito Gaston says his young pitchers should go to Roy Halladay and ask for pitching advice. But after what happened on Monday, it might be wise to give Halladay a day or two to censor his thoughts.

Of the 12 hits Halladay allowed in the Toronto Blue Jays' 12-7 loss to Tampa Bay, about half were struck with authority. The Rays seemed partial to hits with a hump in the middle.

Halladay gave up an otherworldly (for him) eight runs, seven earned. One scored on an error. Another came in on a dribbler that travelled about 30 feet.

It wasn't that long ago that fans and Philly's radio sports talkers were unanimous in writing close to a blank check to Toronto to get former Cy Young Award-winner Halladay, thought to be the best veteran pitcher in baseball. The Phillies rejected a deal that would have sent starting pitcher J.A. Happ and their two best prospects to the Jays; instead they practically stole Cliff Lee from Cleveland for a package of solid but unspectacular up-and-coming minor leaguers.

The bottom line. Halladay is is 2-4 with a 5.23 ERA and has surrendered eight homers in his last six starts. Lee? All he's done since becoming a Phightin' Phil is go 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA. Had the Phillies management pulled the trigger on the Halladay deal, they would not have had Lee or Happ -- the likely National League Rookie of the Year -- in the rotation but would have been saddled with the suddenly mortal Halladay and the struggling Jamie Moyer in the mix instead. They might be clinging to first place by the skin of their teeth, rather than pulling away from the rest of the NL East.

So did Ruben Amaro and Co. know exactly what they were doing, or was it dumb luck? Either way, the Roy Halladay trade -- which was supposed to be all about winning in 2009, when the Blue Jays' ace in fact now seems shot -- is one of the best that the Phillies have never made.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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