Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are The Phillies That Much Better With Halladay?

The Toronto Blue Jays waved goodbye to the face of their franchise by dealing starting pitcher Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies. The three-team deal, which also involved the Seattle Mariners, will be considered complete once all the players involved take (and pass) their physicals.

On paper, it looks as if the Phillies improved themselves drastically by adding arguably the best American League pitcher of the past few years. However, while I was focusing on the Phillies/Blue Jays part of the Halladay trade, my one-track, fourth-place mind failed to realize that to make this deal, the Phillies had to deal Cliff Lee to Seattle. Lee is a younger lefty who not only had playoff experience (unlike Halladay) but excelled in the postseason (4-0, 1.56 ERA in the 2009 playoffs). In addition to losing Lee, the Phillies also parted ways with Kyle Drabek, who was supposed to be a major part of their future.

I’m trying to envision the Phillies’ rotation for the 2010 season and I see Roy Halladay leading the staff, followed by the following pitchers:

Cole Hamels

Hamels has question marks after last season’s inconsistent performance. He has been overworked at a young age due to extended postseasons.

Joe Blanton

Blanton gave up more hits than innings pitched last year and was one of only four pitchers who gave up at least 30 HR in 2009. However, every other pitcher who gave up 30 HR made at least 33 starts. Blanton only made 31.

J.A. Happ

Happ is a good young pitcher, but faltered down the stretch and in the postseason. After his last start in August, he made five more starts. In those starts, his ERA was 4.84 and opposing batters hit .344 against him. In the playoffs, his ERA was 5.68 and his WHIP was 2.21. There are clearly some durability issues here.

Jamie Moyer

The man is so old, he got misty eyed when the Phillies played the Yankees in the World Series because it brought back childhood memories of the 1950 Phils-Yanks World Series matchup. His 2009 ERA was just south of 5.00 and his 25 starts were his fewest since 1996, when Todd Hundley was setting catcher home run records for the Mets.

The Phillies can also turn to Kyle Kendrick and that Bastardo named Antonio, who are ready to step in whenever Moyer needs to take a nap or change his adult diaper.

The Phillies’ rotation doesn’t look too different from the staff the Mets currently employ. We have a bonafide #1 starter in Johan Santana, followed by Question Mark (Mike Pelfrey), Question Mark (John Maine) and Off The Mark (Oliver Perez).

The glaring difference between the Mets and the Phillies is very clear. It’s all about each team’s offense. The Phillies slugged their way to the World Series by hitting a league-leading 224 home runs in 2009, including more home runs with men on base (96) than the Mets had home runs (95).

Fine, so the Mets didn’t get an ace pitcher who could complement Santana in the rotation. But their rotation is still comparable to the Phillies’ starters, even more so if they can add Jason Marquis or Joel PiƱeiro. If they want to have a chance in the National League East, they’ll need to sign a big bat or two and hope for a return to form by the injured hitters.

Sadly, there may not be enough big bats left out there other than Matt Holliday and Jason Bay and both of them play the same position. If Daniel Murphy leads the Mets in home runs again, it won’t matter what our pitching staff looks like. It’ll be another postseason where we root for certain teams to lose instead of rooting for the Mets to win.

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