Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This isn't blackjack. You don't always split your aces.

Now that the Halladay trade is official, it's time for some analysis.

Back in July, I complemented the Phillies' acquisition of Cliff Lee, partially because "the organization didn't have to part with any of their 3 top prospects (according to Baseball America)."
Now the Phills have parted with 2 of those 3 prospects to make a much smaller upgrade in the rotation. Their primary motivation was that Halladay was willing to sign a contract extension at a reasonable price and Lee wasn't. Fair enough - if Philadelphia felt the need to wrap up an ace for the next few years, maybe it was worth giving up some great prospects. But, why did they feel required to trade their other ace? Why not keep both?

This trade is being described as a three-way deal, but it's really two separate two-team deals. No players are being exchanged by the Blue Jays and Mariners. There's no reason why the Phillies needed to get a third team involved. If they'd just traded for Halladay, they'd have the best 1-2 in baseball and the best rotation overall. They'd be the clear favorite to win the NL pennant, and with their two aces, a legitimate threat to the Yankees/Red Sox if they made it to the World Series. They'd be the first NL team to act like the Yankees and Red Sox this century.

Instead, they traded Lee and his very reasonable contract for 3 good-not-great prospects, which isn't that much better than just taking the draft picks next year.


coachie said...

good point about it really being two separate deals. kind of a mind-boggling move, especially considering that Lee was amazing in the postseason while Halladay is an unknown quantity. and if you're a Phils fan, do you celebrate?

Bryan said...

Mike Tepper's Facebook page ends three rants with the following: "F*** RUBEN AMARO JR."

A little much, but your answer lies within.

Fred Coupon said...

LOVE the blackjack title.

I guess the Phillies thought they were too-lefty heavy in the rotation, but Lee was spectacular in his brief stint.

cannatar said...

I can only assume that the Phillies logic was that with Halladay on board, they could win the division this year without Lee and should restock the farm system a bit.
It seems like it's a weak move to just try to build the team that's slightly better than the (NL) competition when you have the opportunity to do what the Yanks and Sox try to do every year: build a team that's much better than the competition, virtually guaranteed of making the postseason, and set up to be very dangerous once they get there.

Fred Coupon said...

The Phillies plan of being slightly better than the rest of the NL sure beats the straight-up mediocrity pursued by the fine folks in Flushing.

Bryan said...

"It seems like it's a weak move to just try to build the team that's slightly better than the (NL) competition when you have the opportunity to do what the Yanks and Sox try to do every year"

I think your answer lies within. Maybe they are trying to do this but can't do it every year, and they want to do everything they can to keep it sustainable. This is actually what the Red Sox do each year, although it gets muddled when *only* signing John Lackey and Mike Cameron is labeled as a tame offseason.

coachie said...

The AL West certainly got a lot more intriguing what with the Mariners' moves. Of course, it should never be too hard to come out on top in a 4-horse race. that's some real competitive imbalance right there.

The Blue Jays have to go up against the Yanks and Sox during those two teams' most financially flush and talent-rich years ever, whereas if they were in the AL West, who knows?

and yes kudos on the headline.

Bryan said...

Yeah, the headline is an all-timer.

Bryan said...

If Jack McDowell was involved in the trade, would it still apply?