Analysis

Halladay or Prospects: Take Your Pick



American League starting pitcher Roy Halladay, of the Toronto Blue Jays, speaks during a news conference announcing the lineups for the All-Star baseball game Monday, July 13, 2009, in St. Louis. The All-Star game is set to be played Tuesday in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Many a general manager has been fired in this league over the term “potential.” For every Cole Hamels, there is a Pat Combs; for every Chase Utley, a Steve Jeltz.

The Phillies find themselves peering at two scenarios; one is now, one is later.

Roy Halladay is the hottest name in the baseball world right now, not only because he is available, but also because his willingness to play for a contender makes him an ideal match for this club. Halladay fits the “now” because of his lengthy positive track record and his position as perhaps the best pitcher in baseball. You can win now with Roy Halladay.

J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and others represent the “later.” Besides Happ, none of these players can help toward back-to-back titles. Drabek was on display at the MLB Futures Game in St. Louis yesterday, and he did not disappoint. One baseball official told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Drabek was “the best pitcher he watched” in the talent show. Taylor has been spectacular, exhilarating the organization with his five tools. Realistically, many of these players are a few years away from producing.

If Halladay is indeed available for a price that is manageable, the Phillies can mortgage part of the future and pray to the baseball gods that they get another championship in the next year and a half. If they do not win, Halladay will hit the open market, most likely, and that window will be closed. On top of that, they will have lost four or five prime pieces that could have made their mark in Philly down the road.

If the Phillies decide to stand pat, keeping a firm hand on their prized farm system, then they must go with what they have. Let’s not forget, the Phils won it all with a team comprised with many of the same parts they have this year. Again, though, they must pray to the Gods that  a championship or two is won a few years down the line. At the same time, they certainly believe this squad is more than capable of winning.

The baseball purist in me wants to see the Phillies hold on to the kids. The part of me that searches for quick production wants Doc. Neither choice is right or wrong, but the outcome could decide how the 2009 Phillies fare.

Halladay coming to Philadelphia may very well be a pipe dream. The more likely decision will be to keep the minor leagues intact and concentrate on preserving a team that can win. It will also save a franchise known to be frugal a boatload of money. A source close to Randy Miller of the Bucks County Courier Times said that the Phillies are weary of adding more money to an already distended payroll. Halladay would cost the Phillies somewhere in the $5 million range for this season and $15.75 million next year.

My pick: If the trade does not involve Happ or Drabek and if the Blue Jays list is not six or seven players deep, then a deal should be made. It’s advantageous to keep young pitching that is under control for several years. The Phillies obviously realize this, which is one of the reasons why Drabek has been put on the untouchable list.

You can’t throw everything at the wolves. You need to hold on to some of that “potential.” Can that be achieved? Soon enough, we will find out.

 

UPDATE (2:12 pm): According to MLB.com, the Toronto Blue Jays will not allow potential suitors interested in Roy Halladay work out a contract extension before a trade is done.

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