The Phillies, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay: Which To Trade and Which to Keep

Zack Lessner@@ZLess1995Correspondent IIAugust 24, 2010

(Note to reader: This article was written before I became a member at bleacher report, so I am just posting it now.)

After the Philadelphia Phillies signed Placido Polanco on December 4th to fill in their hole at third base, most people thought that they were finished making any majors moves for the off-season.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had other early 'Halladay' plans in mind.

On December 15th, in a four team deal that included nine players and six million dollars, the Phillies acquired Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay.

But the trade came at a price.

Star post season pitcher and mid season pick up Cliff Lee was shipped over to Seattle in the same trade.

In Roy Halladay, the Phillies picked up one of the premier pitchers in baseball throughout the past few years. Since 2005, Halladay has had three seasons with an earned run average under three, going over 200 innings in all but one. He hardly walks anybody, with his most walks in that span being 48, and has been in the All-Star game 6 times in his career.

His one flaw has been that he has never been to the postseason, and lacks experience.

This was in no way is his fault though.

In his 12 seasons in the big leagues, the Blue Jays have never made the playoffs. Halladay has been their best player every year, and with his free agency foreshadowing next off season, Halladay had told the Blue Jays that he wouldn't re-sign with the them because they weren't a winning team.

The Blue Jays had tried to trade Halladay to the Phillies before the trading deadline last year, but the Blue Jays' asking price of Halladay from the Phillies included too many of their prized prospects.

Instead of landing Halladay from the Blue Jays last year, the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee of the Indians, who required less prized prospects to acquire him.

Lee was nothing less than spectacular for the Phillies down the stretch. He led them to the post season, and in the playoffs he went four and zero with a 1.56 earned run average leading the Phillies to the world series.

Becoming a fan favorite in the process, Cliff Lee also had free agency looming over his head for next off season, and the Phillies wanted an ace for the future.

According to Phillies sources, Cliff Lee had wanted the type of money that CC Sabathia, ace of the World Series champion Yankees, had gotten from them last off season, a seven year, 160 million dollar contract.

Although the Phillies couldn't afford that kind of contract, Cliff Lee insists that he was willing to settle for less, in order to stay with the Phillies, and is shocked that the Phillies traded him.

The Phillies ended up trading two prospects including top prospect Kyle Draback, who the Phillies had said was untouchable during last year's trading deadline, to get Halladay and six million dollars to afford him. Halladay signed a three year, 60 million dollar extension for the deal to be passed, and now he has a chance at the post-season.

Cliff Lee was dealt over to the Mariners for three other prospects, dumping his nine million dollar contract in order to free up room to pay for Halladay.

Could the Phillies have kept Lee and Halladay so that they would have a super rotation along with Cole Hamels for 2010?

The answer is yes.

The Phillies could have traded starting pitcher Joe Blanton who cost them seven million for 2010, and kept Cliff Lee. The problem is, Lee is a lot better than Blanton, and in trading Blanton, the Phillies would have depleted their farm system and their future.

The Phillies just preferred Halladay over Lee, if what Lee says about signing for less is true.

How would it have been if the Phillies could have had a rotation with both? Just look at the picture above and we can only wonder.