Philadelphia fans wanted Roy Halladay. I wanted Roy Halladay. Some have said they don't care what it took to get him. It had to be done. It became an obsession. It became so big that if it didn't happen, Ruben Amaro Jr. would have a good deal of explaining to do.
It didn't happen. Instead the Phils obtained the services of another Cy Young winner in Cliff Lee and a not-too-shabby right-handed hitting outfielder in Ben Francisco from Cleveland for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson.
The reaction by the fans is somewhat unexpected—they approved.
At first glance, I had mixed emotions about the deal. To get a pitcher of Lee's caliber is out of this world, but in the same token, not getting Halladay stung. It took a little bit for the storm to settle, and for the positives to outweigh the negatives.
Like many other Phillies fans, I was a little sour that they didn't get the guy we deemed to be the guy. Knowing the Phils passed up the best pitcher in baseball when they had the prospects to get a deal done angered me just a tad bit.
My feeling was that Amaro dropped the ball by not getting Doc Halladay. Then I let everything calm down, and really started to think about it. Philadelphia dropped the ball on Halladay, but picked it right back up by adding Lee.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old is quietly having another solid season for the Indians after winning the AL Cy Young last season with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA.
Lee has a losing record for Cleveland but that has much to do with his lack of run support. With the Indians, Lee received on average 5.03 runs per game—which ranks ninth worst among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched.
In 22 games with the Tribe this year, Lee is 7-9 while posting a 3.14 ERA. He leads all of baseball with 152 innings pitched so he's the work horse they've been seeking for some time now.
Lee has 107 strikeouts to just 33 walks. Even more impressive, he hasn't walked a batter in 27 2/3 innings dating back to July 10th against the Detroit Tigers.
In his last four starts, Lee is 3-1, with a 1.97 ERA, while striking out 22 batters in 32 innings. After a rough first two starts of the season, Lee has a 2.66 ERA in 20 of his 22 starts.
Philadelphia has a abundance of quality starting pitchers on their roster, even more so with Lee. The Phils now have Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, J.A. Happ, Rodrigo Lopez, Pedro Martinez, and now, Lee.
Not only did Amaro get Lee for relatively cheap, he managed to fill another need at the same time. Francisco, 27, is exactly what the Phils have been looking for since Amaro took over as GM: a right-handed bat.
Francisco is hitting .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBI for the Indians as an everyday outfielder. Coming over to the Phils, he'll be the fourth outfielder, but in the same token, he'll be a very valuable piece.
Think about the job Amaro has done in this deal. He managed to get a Cy Young winner without giving up one of his top three prospects: Dominic Brown, Kyle Drabek, or Michael Taylor. And he didn't have to trade Happ either.
To acquire Halladay from the Blue Jays, it would have required Drabek and one of the other three prospects mentioned above, along with one or two more prospects. There are a good amount of people that would be upset with that type of package, but the majority would be ecstatic.
This past weekend, we learned that the Blue Jays wanted Brown, Drabek, and Happ. To me, that's a fair offer. The Phils didn't want to trade Drabek; that's evident with the Lee acquisition. But to me, what has he proved? Nothing, exactly.
For all we know, Drabek could be another Carlton Loewer, Tyler Green, Gavin Floyd, Pat Combs or Adam Eaton. The list goes on for the Phillies with producing pitching prospects.
I understand why people didn't want to trade Drabek, but what gets me is the sudden love-fest with Happ. While he's having a great season, he's a mid-rotation pitcher. He certainly isn't a deal breaker.
But at the end fo the day, to acquire Lee without giving up those prospects was the best course of action, and for that, I have to give props to Amaro for surviving the pressure to get Halladay by acquiring the next best thing in Cliff Lee.
Who says they still can't get Halladay, they still have the assets to get Doc. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? No.
Could you imagine a rotation of Halladay, Hamels, and Lee?