2009/12/15

Halladay is a Phillie - Lee is Not


So, it looks like the trade has been worked out and should be finalized and announced later today or tomorrow. It actually turns out that it is 2 separate trades that the Phillies made. The first trade was to get Halladay and involves the Phillies are Toronto Blue Jays. The 2nd trade was giving up Cliff Lee to the Mariners for prospects.

The first trade--
Phillies receive: Roy Halladay, $6 million
Blue Jays receive: Phillies prospects P Kyle Drabek, OF Michael Taylor, C Travis d'Arnaud

The 2nd trade--
Phillies receive: Mariners prospects P Phillippe Aumont, OF Tyson Gillies, P Juan Ramirez
Mariners receive: Cliff Lee

This is all still not yet official, and has yet to be announced, so these things could change, but the above appear to be the terms.

Before I provide my thoughts on the trades, I will state that Roy Halladay is an absolute beast, and I fully support him coming to the Phillies, as he is one of the best pitchers in the league. Not only that, but Halladay has already agreed to terms on a 3-year deal, running from 2011 through 2013 at $20 million per year, in addition to a $20 million vesting option for 2014. This seems to be one of big factors of making these trades, as Cliff Lee was only signed for this upcoming season, and will probably want a lot of money. So... I am very happy that Roy Halladay is a Philadelphia Phillie.

All of that said, I am not happy with the overall outcome of these trades. In fact, it is a very weak, cheap move by the Phillies management. It makes me even more mad that the deal is 2 separate trades, so technically, the Phillies did not need to give up Cliff Lee at all to get Halladay... and they shouldn't have. You have Cliff Lee, who was unreal last year after we got him, especially in the playoffs, and you have him signed for 2010 at $9 million. $9 million is absolutely nothing for a guy of that caliber, and if you have that guy signed for that little, even if it is for a year, you don't give him up. The Phillies are being cheap. It's a small-middle level mindset when this team needs to be thinking big. We have been in the World Series the past 2 years, and have won 1 of them. The Phillies are selling tickets and merchandise like crazy. The Phillies are basically printing money at Citizens Bank Park, and to act like you can't pay Cliff Lee $9 million this season, which by the way is an absolute steal, is a very weak move.

Cliff Lee was a beast from the time the Phillies acquired him through the end of the season, and most importantly, in the playoffs. Lee was 4-0 with about a 1.50 ERA in the playoffs last year. Lee won both of the games he pitched against the Yankees, and the Phillies lost the other 4 that Lee didn't pitch. If the Phillies acquire Halladay, and keep Lee, they are the best team in baseball going into next season. By acquiring Halladay and giving up Lee, they are still not as good as the Yankees and the Red Sox. And to have the attitude that we can't do what it takes to compete with those teams is an insult to the fans. The Phillies paid Brett Myers $12 million last season. The Phillies are paying Jaime Moyer $8 million this season. You have Cy Young winner at $9 million this season, and you can't pay him. That is ridiculous. You don't need to sign Lee long-term, just keep him for 1 season, and let him walk.

Not only all of this, The Phillies unloaded 2 very good prospects in this deal, for 3 Mariners prospects, who are not on the same level as the Phillies prospects. The Phillies basically have give up Knapp, Carrasco, Marson, Donald, Drabek, Taylor, and d'Arnaud for Halladay. Drabek was untouchable as little as a few months ago at the trade deadline. I don't have a problem giving up Drabek, Taylor, and d'Arnaud for Halladay. The problem is, you aren't any better than you were last season. It is a very lateral move. Best case scenario, the Phillies make the playoffs, and Halladay tears it up in the playoffs. It is no improvement however, because you already had that in Lee. You still have Cole Hamels pitching Game 2, and you still have Blanton/Happ pitching Game 3.

The starting pitching staff to start the season now will be Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, and a 5th starter, who I think will be Moyer to start the season. Not keeping Lee really means Hamels needs to step his game up. We need Hamels to be the Hamels of 2008. If that happens, this team should really improve. We also basically have no 5th starter worth anything to start the season.

So, I am very happy with Halladay, bottom line. And the fact that they locked Halladay up for a multi-year deal, and did not have Lee locked up is a good thing. If Lee wants top money, the Phillies would probably not be able to sign him for the long-term. However, like I said, you had Lee next season locked up at $9 million, and no reason to get rid of him. Halladay is one of the best pitchers in the league, but it doesn't seem to make the Phillies any better or worse. You still need Hamels to step it up, and we still need a 5th starter to play well during the regular season.

You are the Philadelphia Phillies. You are one of the best teams in baseball. You are making money like never before. You should be able to go over your payroll by $9 million next season, and go into the season as the World Series favorite.

16 comments:

Dr. G said...

Nothing's ever easy for Philly fans...One would think that any deal putting arguably one of the top 2 pitchers in all of MLB into a Phillies uniform would be greeted with dancing in the streets. Instead, the Phil's faithful are coming across like Scrooges: "Happy Halladays -- Bah! Humbug!" There's clearly a lot of ambivalence about this, as graphically depicted in your post. Why the strong mixed feelings? I think it comes down to the difference between theory and experience. We hear of Halladay, we read of Halladay, we inspect Halladay's stats -- but we haven't directly experienced Halladay. Yes, he has actually pitched actual games against actual teams and has produced actually excellent results. But we in Philly haven't actually seen him do any of this. We have to kind of take it on faith that he's for real, and that he can live up to his billing. Lee, on the other hand, is a huge part of our lived reality as Philly fans. We've seen him close down opponents throughout the playoffs and into the Series, we've directly witnessed his dominating and clutch performances both with his arm and his glove. He's real to us in a way Halladay can't be right now. He's like an elegant physics theory that can potentially explain everything, but which hasn't yet been tested and proved in the laboratory of Citizens Bank. Lee might not be as elegant, but he's explained enough for us to believe in him, AND he's passed every test. Hence, the ambivalence... It's so classically Philly that we can't just have a straightforward, joy-producing, blockbuster trade to celebrate! No, not us. Even in the best circumstances, we have to be made to squirm...
Now, as for the details, I don't pretend to be an MLB scholar, but here's why I think Amaro may have had no other choice:

1. Lee reportedly would not agree to a multi-year deal AND would not agree to give the Phils a "home team discount" at free agent time. Therefore, it was reasonable to assume that he'd be gone after '10 and we'd be in a weak position to deal for a worthy replacement. Since Halladay was willing to go multi-year, he became a more attractive alternative.

2. Since getting the attractive alternative would require jettisoning a handful of promising prospects, another avenue had to be found to replenish these prospects. Hence the Lee to Mariners deal. While theoretically they could have made the Halladay deal and kept Lee, their top prospects would be gone and Lee would still be walking in '10. Amaro wasn't willing to possibly bankrupt the future for a single season, however beast-like.

If these circumstances are correct, I'm not sure Amaro had much of an option beyond what he did. If Lee had agreed to a multi-year, I strongly suspect that Ruben would also have pulled the trigger on the Halladay deal, feeling that having both beasts on the roster for years to come would balance out unloading their top prospects. But without having Lee guaranteed beyond '10, the equation just didn't balance. What will be very interesting is how Hamels deals with next season. The fate of this deal, and of Amaro's rep, may well rest in Hamels' shaky hands -- and that's really something to lose sleep over...

Kotite's Corner said...

I understand the point to "replenish" the farm system having given up a bunch in the first Lee trade, and a bunch now in the Halladay trade, but these guys we got from the Mariners are average prospects from what I am reading, and not even the Mariners top prospects.

Since they have now made 2 trades in a few months giving up prospects, why didn't they just trade for Halladay at the trade deadline, especially since you now give up Drabek, who we heard at the trade deadline was untradeable.

Philly said...

First off: The prospects we are getting from Seattle are listed by Baseball America as being two top 5 prospects (Aumont #3, Ramirez #5), and the #20 prospect (Gillies) in the Mariners organization (to clarify, that's the #'s 3,5, and 20 ranked prospects as far as Seattle prospects go, not 3,5,20 out of ALL prospects); so yes, we are getting the Mariner's best prospects within reason.

Philly said...

Now that we have that issue settled it's on to Dr. G's comment...

You're right-- nothing's ever easy for Phillies fans.. at least not "real" Phillies fans. The reason I'm not dancing in the street isn't because the familiar Lee is leaving, and the mysterious Halladay is taking his place; I'm not dancing in the street because LEE DIDN'T HAVE TO LEAVE!

Amaro DID have a choice... well, maybe not... but his lack of a choice comes from Phillies ownership being characteristically cheap; despite rolling in cash for the past two years, the Phillies owners decided that $140 million is the most they can afford to spend on salaries.

Truth be told, Lee didn't need to go anywhere, and here's why: Lee is contracted through the 2010 season, and his salary for that year is $9 million... that's a STEAL for a player of his caliber (need some perspective? Moyer is making $6.5, Lidge makes $11.5, Meyers made $12 last year, and Blanton will be making $7 after arbitration... now that you compared their salaries, compare their abilites). Despite the great value you're getting in Lee for his salary, the Phillies decided, in all their great wisdom, that $9 million is just too much to pay. Imagine how easy it would've been to secure another championship with the 1-2 punch we would've had in Halladay-Lee; ownership decided that $9 million was far too great a cost to pay for that title. That's right, guys like John Middleton (a part-owner of the Phillies who recently sold his cigar company to the tune of 2.2 BILLION... yes, BILLION, with a B) thinks that going over the $140 salary limit by $9 million isn't worth a second championship season in three years. John Middleton could pay Lee's salary from his own pocket, and the hit he would financially feel from doing so would roughly equate to you or I losing a twenty dollar bill in the laundry... but that's too much. Would you pay $20 for a World Championship? I would... especially if I actually owned the Phillies. Angry yet? Well don't go anywhere yet... it gets better!

Philly said...

The Jays are sending us $6 million in addition to Halladay, and the Phillies could simply non-tender Joe Blanton to save $7 million. Halladay will be making $15.75 in 2010. Translation: non-tender Blanton and you've eliminated $13 million of Halladay's salary, meaning you get Halladay for $2.75 million in 2010. So, the Phillies could have both Lee and Halladay, for on year, for the same amount THAT THEY PAID BRETT F'N MEYERS LAST YEAR! The Phillies could be winning the World Series for $2.75 million over salary. Guess what-- John Middleton, Bill Giles, and David Montgomery don't think a World Championship is worth $2.75 million. No, instead we're shipping Lee off to Seattle for a bunch of ho-hum prospects who are too young to be proven as valuable regardless of their talents.

Now I know, I know... I'm just a fan who doesn't comprehend that at the end of the day, "baseball is still a business." But that excuse holds no water because letting Lee slip away is, plainly and simply, bad business.

After the 2008 season the Phillies experienced a significant rise in ticket sales, and they increased their revenue by 8% overall; furthermore, winning a second championship in a three-year span would bolster the team's out-of-market appeal, thus further bolstering the bottom line through merch sales, not to mention the national attention a Lee/Halladay lineup would garner. Now understandably, you can't keep them both long-term... the cost outweighs the return at that point. However, keeping Lee through the end of his contract would only cost you a one year hit of $9 million, $2+ million if you drop Blanton, and the gain the following year would more than cover the expense. Ticket sales, merchandise, media exposure... all of that would certainly exceed the nine million dollars it cost you to see it! So no, it doesn't make sense from a business perspective either to let Lee go.

Cliffs Notes: Phillies ownership, as usual, is too cheap to reward their loyal fans with the best opportunity for victory... even when it's steal, and potentially profitable in the long term.

Philly said...

This leaves only one other argument that letting Lee go was a logical decision: prospects, your "#2" in your post.

You suggested the general sentiment that keeping Lee equates to mortgaging the long-term future for short-term success... WRONG! To explain this one needs to analyze the prospects involved on a player-to-player basis, so here goes... the Phillies sent Drabek, Taylor, and D'Arnaud; they will replace them Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez. Drabek and Taylor are both considered to be MLB ready, no more than a 1/2 to a full season away from going to the big show; D'Arnaud needs to get his hitting in order, and is a few years from being major league ready. On the flip-side, not one of the prospects we're receiving for Lee is majors-ready, or close to it. Aumont started last season in advanced class-A, and finished in AA, and both Ramirez and Gillies are advanced class-A... all a good couple years from playing pro-ball. So we're trading majors-ready players for players who aren't, that's important... remember it.

Here's why you're wrong: you're under the impression that our farm system would be left depleted after all the prospects we dealt in order to acquire Lee and Halladay respectively, that's not entirely true. We offered Lee his arbitration and he accepted, that makes him a class-A free-agent in '10. After 2010, whichever team decides that Lee is worth the money they'd pay for him will also need to be willing to deal their top 2 draft picks over to the Phils... that's part of the deal with a class-A. Those 2 draftees will only be 2 years behind the level that Aumont, Ramirez, and Gillies currently are (p.s. - Aumont and Ramirez are rumored to be injury risks, even though neither is over 22 years old... yikes). So in reality, our farm system isn't horribly dented.

The bottom line is this: the Phillies landing a player like Doc makes me want to "dance in the street;" however, all the excitement I felt when I heard the news was quelled upon hearing of Lee's departure, and the details and reasons for his departure compounded the gut-wrenching pain I felt after hearing it all.

The Phillies ownership are such a sadistic group that they can't even let us enjoy the thrill of acquiring a top-dawg, Cy Yound winning pitcher... how sad is that.

Dr. G said...

I'm certainly willing to defer my opinion on this matter to anyone going to the trouble of laying out such a detailed, insightful analysis at 3:30AM!! I qualified my humble points at the beginning by admittting that I'm nowhere near an MLB scholar -- was just trying to make some sense of what seemed to be an unusually chaotic series of moves. Reading through your posts is extremely informative: you seem to capture every angle of these messy deals which, taken together, point to the inevitable conclusion that, once again, it's really all about the $$$. Excellent job by you, and your argument is extremely convincing -- though all too familiarly depressing!

Kotite's Corner said...

Philly's thoughts are very good, and impressive, they seem familiar. Ohh yeah probably because it basically re-hashes everything I said and feel in the article I wrote.

Some additional thoughts--

I do not consider the Mariners #3, #5, and #20 prospects impressive, nor do I consider them on par with the prospects we gave away in both trades.

If you don't want to blame the Phillies management for this move, because they need the money, then ok. Blame them for signing Moyer to a 2 year deal. Even at that time it was absolutely ridiculous and puzzling why we gave Moyer a 2 year deal. It wasn't like Moyer held any power. No other team wanted him, and we really didn't need him that badly. So, if we had only signed Moyer to 1 year, we would have that money to pay Lee.

My main point, as re-hashed by Philly is that not only do you have Lee for this season, you have him at an absolute steal. You aren't going to get a pitcher of his caliber for $9 mil too often. I understand the need to stay on your budget, and also replinish the farm system. And I think those are absolutely valid points, but when you weigh the 2 options, it seems to me that going a little over, and keeping Lee is the way to go, and it shouldn't even be an argument.

Keeping Lee makes us the World Series favorites for next season. Getting Halladay and getting rid of Lee is a lateral move. We are still probably the best team in the NL, but would be large underdogs again to go against the Yankees, or Red Sox. The Mariners pitching staff is even a lot better than ours now.

By not keeping Lee, we really are putting a lot of faith that Hamels steps it up, and Moyer is a 5th starter. If we kept Lee, we have the best 1-2 combo in the league, and Happ and Blanton at the end of the rotation, which isn't too bad.

Kotite's Corner said...

Moyer is due to make $8 mil next season.

Philly said...

I know that I just re-hashed what you already said... I just did it a bit more vividly, angrily, and with more words because I'm pissed about it, and I wanted to vent :)

As for the prospects- they're just prospects, and they're reasonably on par with what we gave up. Drabek is not the stud Phillies fans make him out to be, he's a 22 year-old kid who's already required Tommy John surgery, and who has been ranked anywhere from top 50 to top 100 among all MLB prospects over the past 2 years (never breaking into the top 25). Aumont also has injury issues, and has had the same type of rankings bestowed on him; however, Aumont was relinquished to the bullpen, which undoubtedly hurt his rankings, but most scouts have said they don't understand the move, and figure it was injury related. Taylor is scouted as being top 50-100 as well, and is the only one of them to crack the top 25 (got as high as #20). As for Ramirez and Gillies, well neither of them ever cracked top 100, but neither has D'Arnaud... the three of them may never see the Show, and most likely will spend their careers in the minors.

So, Drabek vs. Aumont is a wash, and Gillies vs. D'Arnaud is a wash, both groups are of equal talent, the only lopsided comparison is Taylor vs. Ramirez; however, the Phils got Halladay, whereas the Mariners only got Lee, so you can't expect the trade-offs to be entirely equal since the returns were not equal. The bottom line is that if you take Amaro on his word that the trades were necessary, and not money related, then they're both good value trades. You also need to keep in mind that the Phillies got a better player who was willing to extend his contract, whereas Seattle got a lesser player who wants to test the market next year, thus won't sign an extension... that makes him far less valuable, and less likely to command the level of prospects we sent.

Lastly, Moyer is not making $8 million, he's making $6.5 million. He signed a 2-year, $13 million deal, and has already been payed half of that figure. So, unless he met some incentive requirements I haven't heard about, then I don't know where you're getting $8 million from. If I recall correctly, the only incentives he got involved pitching 30 starts, and something like 170+ innings per season... he hasn't met that requirement.

Philly said...

I stand corrected, a little research showed he's got some pretty excessive and unwarranted incentives... and his '09 stats would account for the $1.5 salary difference. Not bad management for a guy who acts as his own agent!

Kotite's Corner said...

Do you work during the day or something Philly? Your comments were very good and informative, I didn't mean to insinuate that you just re-hashed what I wrote, because you gave some extremely good details, and thought out opinions.

I understand what the Phillies did, and I understand why they claim it was necessary to do what they did. It is definitely a valid argument. However, so is the argument of paying a little more for Lee, and in my opinion, that option outweighs the option of replinishing the staff.

Blanton is making $7 mil, Moyer is making $8 mil, and because of that, we miss out on Lee for a year at $9 mil, which again, is an absolute steal.

C-Money said...

Holy Shit!! Philly is the biggest filibuster I have ever seen. You should work in the House or Senate with that kind of verbiage.

I think the Phillies should have at least kept Lee until the trade deadline. They could have tried to work something out until they had no choice to get trade value out of him. Moyer making 8 mill, and Blanton making 7 mill are abominations. Moyer is a 75 year old, washed up, loser. As bad as that sounds, I really love the guy, but his day is done. He gives up home runs like it's his job, and he fires his fastball at 78 mph. The only reason he won games is due to the Phillies potent offense giving him 10 run cushions. Blanton is a middle of the road guy who would be a 4/5 starter on any major league team.

I know Halladay will be great, and I think the Phillies hope to god that Hamels will return to 2008 form. The bad part about this is, when the team gets to the playoffs and Halladay has a crap outing, people will be SCREAMING that it could have been Lee locking it down.

Kotite's Corner said...

By the way, this is probably the most commented article on here ever, so good job. The comments were all very good also.

Philly said...

Heh, nah... got laid off last May, and I don't sleep much if I don't have something to do during the day. So I'm usually up from 12pm to 6am... giving me plenty of time gripe online :)

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