The inclusion of Cliff Lee in the Roy Halladay trade has to be a hotly debated topic amongst Phillies fans. While I'm sure there are many who are thrilled to have acquired Halladay, the realization that the Phillies gave up their best starting pitcher in the process has to add some sting to the deal.
It's obvious that the Phillies decided to include Cliff Lee because it became apparent to them that it was going to be very difficult to re-sign Lee after the 2010 season. Lee's contract demands seemed to be far more than what the Phillies felt comfortable paying and instead of waiting around and hoping that they would have the opportunity to re-sign Cliff Lee, the Phillies dumped him for Halladay because they know they will have him long term.
On the surface, that logic makes sense for the Phillies. If you're going to pick between one year of Cliff Lee at $8 million or four years guaranteed of Halladay for $75 or so million total, I would pick Halladay.
But what should bother Phillies fans is this: Did the Phillies have to include Cliff Lee in the trade? Could they have gotten this done by just trading away prospects and young players like J.A Happ? I think so.
A deal that included any of the three: J.A Happ-Kyle Drabek-Michael Taylor-Dominic Brown should have gotten the job done. Is it fair to say that one year of Cliff Lee could be worth more than 12 years of service time combined between Drabek and Brown if the Phillies are able to win it all in 2010? I think so.
If they did not include Lee, then the Phillies would have been armed with one of the best rotations in baseball led by the Halladay-Lee-Hamels trio, which would have been a nightmare for opposing teams. I would hate to face that trio in a short series and the Phillies would be a near lock to return to the World Series.
But instead, the Phillies opted to mortgage the present by trading Cliff Lee in return for securing their future with Roy Halladay and by holding on to some of their top prospects. Bold move, Ruben Amaro.
Then again, the Phillies are now set to acquire the best pitcher on the planet, who could very well lead them back to the World Series without Cliff Lee. Despite the inclusion of Lee, there is plenty of reason for the Phillies to be optimistic about the 2010 season.