Should the Philadelphia Phillies Sell the Farm To Acquire Roy Halladay?

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Should the Philadelphia Phillies Sell the Farm To Acquire Roy Halladay?
(Photo by: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Last year, the Phillies were one of the top suitors for C.C. Sabathia. All the fans were saying that he was the missing piece to the puzzle. Rightfully so, he was the best pitcher available at the time.

Philadelphia didn't win the sweepstakes, and Sabathia went to Milwaukee. The Phils had to settle for Joe Blanton.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

The Phillies, with Blanton, went on to win the World Series, giving the Brewers the boot in the first round of the playoffs.

Which brings me to the topic at hand this year: Roy Halladay.

The Toronto Blue Jays admitted that they were going to listen to offers for him. That happened on July 7. It has been 15 days since that became public knowledge, and every hour brought a new team into the mix.

But from the get-go, the Phillies were deemed the favorite.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated says the Phils and Jays have already talked about prospects Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Michael Taylor. But that Kyle Drabek might be the key to the trade.

And yesterday, Heyman reported that the Phils have decided not to trade Drabek in a four-player package for Halladay.

At first glance, it wasn't good news. It left many fans thinking that maybe it's not going to happen. But that's not the case, because for the first time in a very long time, the Phillies have a farm system.

Imagine that.

A few years ago, they couldn't make any big deals even if they wanted to, thanks to a subpar farm system.

That has changed, and their farm system has depth, unlike before. Instead of having just a few top prospects, the Phils have a lot of talent that other teams want.

The Phillies beat writer for MLB.com Todd Zolecki wrote in his blog yesterday that it doesn't mean the Phils are out of the Halladay race.

So Drabek is an "untouchable" as of right now. But what about Dominic Brown? Jason Knapp? Or Taylor?

Are any of those three untouchables as well?

If the Phillies want Halladay, which they do, they will have to bite the bullet and endure the pain that it will take to acquire him. That means that Brown or Taylor will have to be in the package, and Knapp may have to be in it as well.

Another topic of talk has been whether J.A. Happ should be in a package for Doc.

Happ has been the Phils' most consistent pitcher this year; that's been duly noted. At 7-0 with a 2.68 ERA, Happ is a strong candidate for N.L. Rookie of the Year.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. He's not an ace or even a No. 2 pitcher as well.

At best, Happ is a No. 3 pitcher.

Don't get me wrong, I like the guy just as much as everyone else. He has some potential, and couls be a decent pitcher for the Phils over the years if he is not traded.

But at the same time, he's getting overrated by a lot of the fans.

For instance, Andrew Sexton believes that he should be an "untouchable."

Actually, Mr. Sexton thinks he has been better than Halladay. While I respect his opinion, I think he's flat out wrong.

In his piece, Sexton says that Happ has been better than Halladay because of his 2.68 ERA to Doc's 2.73 ERA, and that Happ is 7-0.

There are several things wrong with that theory.

First off, Happ faces fairly less opposition each time out there while Halladay faces the league's top offensive talent most of the time. Toronto plays in the very strong A.L. East while the Phils play in the very weak N.L. East.

Halladay faces the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox a lot over a span of the season. New York ranks first in the league with 512 runs, Tampa ranks third with 498 runs, and Boston ranks sixth with 477 runs scored.

Eleven of the top 15 offensive teams in the Majors are in the American League, which means that the chances of Halladay having to face one of them are great.

Happ faces a much less talented National League, with only four teams of the top 15 in runs scored.

Guess what?  He's on one of these four.

That means that the chances of him facing one of the better offenses are slim to none because those three other teams aren't in his division.

For Halladay to have a 2.73 ERA in the American League—more importantly, the A.L. East—is pretty damn impressive. It's more impressive than Happ having a 2.68 ERA in a very weak National League.

Happ is the only pitcher in the Majors that has at least 80 innings pitched with an undefeated record, winning seven games to none.

But look at the team he plays for, that's the biggest reason he is 7-0. The Phillies are the defending champions with one of the most prolific offenses in team history.

And look at the Blue Jays, who are a decent team but aren't a playoff team in the American League.

But why are we really discussing Halladay and Happ on the same level?

Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, and that's the consensus around the league. Happ is a nice young pitcher, but is a mid rotation starter and that's also the feeling around his league.

It's not a debate.  Happ isn't on the same level as Halladay.

Should the Phillies gut the farm to acquire Halladay? My answer to that question is:  absolutely.

The Phils don't need him to win the division—it's all but won as it is right now. They don't need him to have a decent chance at repeating as World Champions.

But they do need him.

Philadelphia's starting pitching ranks 24th in the Majors with a 4.73 ERA, and 12th in the National League. While it has been a lot better of late, it still needs another top of the rotation arm.

Their ace from last year hasn't been the same pitcher that went 5-0 in the postseason last October. Cole Hamels has had a struggle for a 2009 season, going 5-5 with a 4.72 ERA.

The team needs an ace and, more importantly, someone to complement Hamels.

Happ isn't the guy; Doc Halladay is.

Sabathia's trade last year was a rental for Milwaukee; they knew that when they made the trade. However, trading for Halladay isn't a rental.

Doc is under contract through 2010, when he is due to make $15.25 million after making $14.25 million this year. But money isn't an issue, as Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has pointed out.

Amaro has said they have financial flexibility, and with the track record of the organization, it's hard to believe they are willing to add another big contract to the team that has a payroll upwards of $130 million.

Halladay has a no-trade clause, but it's believed that he would waive it to go to the Phillies because he wants to win at this point in his career.

The only roadblock to getting a deal done is whether or not the Phillies want to give up one or two of their top prospects.

I say go for it.

Who knows what Drabek, Knapp, Taylor, or Brown will turn out to be? They could be All-Stars or they could be busts.

Halladay has won a Cy Young award in his career, made the All-Star team many times, and is still the best pitcher in the league at the age of 32.

There are nine days until the MLB trade deadline, and six days until the "Roy Halladay Trade Deadline" that Toronto's GM J.P. Ricciardi has set.

So...will Halladay be traded to the Phillies, or even at all?

Only time will tell, but the Phils should make the trade without thinking about it.

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