Whenever a big-name, inning-eating, top-end ace is suddenly on the market, people tend to lose their heads. The defending World Champion Phillies have tried everything to jumpstart a stalling staff, and that even includes resurrecting Pedro Martinez. So it comes as no surprise that they have shown interest in Roy Halladay.
All I ask is for a little common sense.
It’s no secret that Philly's starting pitching this season has left something to be desired. Cole Hamels has looked inconsistent and fragile. Jamie Moyer has been consistently awful. The Chan Ho Park experiment failed miserably. Joe Blanton has been Joe Blanton, which means good but never great. In fact, J.A. Happ has been the only starter who produced from day one. Why are we so eager to get rid of him?
Granted, Halladay is clearly the gem of this year’s trade deadline, and adding him would immediately make the Phillies favorites to repeat as World Champs. He’s a power pitcher who keeps the ball down and gets a ton of strikeouts, so the short porches in right and left wouldn’t be as bad for him as you think. He also goes deep into games, so the Phils wouldn’t have to rely on their shaky bullpen quite as often. Halladay would be a great fit, there is simply no denying it.
I wouldn’t mind if the Phillies gave up every prospect they have to get Halladay. Drabek, Taylor, Donald, Marson. I believe the phrase is "Sell the farm." We have a chance to win now, and another World Series trophy would justify losing potential busts.
But J.A. Happ should be untouchable. If we trade Happ, we are hurting ourselves now and down the road. Happ isn’t a prospect, he’s a proven big league pitcher. He’s also a star, and with a few more starts like the one he had Sunday afternoon, he could be 2009’s National League Cy Young Winner.
Most importantly, Happ has actually been better than Roy Halladay this season. He has a 2.68 ERA to Halladay’s 2.73, and he is a perfect 7-0. He is also heating up, with an ERA of just 1.93 through four starts in July. Halladay has a 3.52 ERA in three July starts. This month, opponents are hitting .214 off Happ. They are hitting 50 points higher off of Halladay. Happ is also younger, cheaper, and he has been doing it all in Coors Field East.
In the very best scenario, Halladay would only be a minor upgrade to Happ, but when you look to the future, things get even worse. We would have to pay Halladay a ton of money if we want to keep him, and he’s not getting any younger. Happ has a high ceiling, and he has already proven that he can survive in this ballpark.
I want to win now, and Happ probably gives us just as much of a chance as Halladay does. Considering the long-term consequences, probably is good enough for me.
Down the road, Happ can only get better, and the window of opportunity isn’t closing on this Phillies team anytime soon. Besides Howard, the core is locked up for a very long time. Why throw part of that away if we don’t have to?