This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.
Things without remedy, shall be without regard; what is done, is done.
– William Shakespeare
I offer this entry as much for me as for my humble readers. For as I put ink to paper, or contemporarily speaking – font to plasma – I do so to clarify my doubt and to pacify my own restless soul. If in this task, I can offer other heretofore bewildered Phillies fans closure to the tumult that has been holiday baseball in the Delaware Valley, I do so humbly and without expectation of recompense for the service.
As I was blogging back and forth earlier this week with “frienemies” Chuck and psujoe, I paused to contemplate anew the events surrounding the Cliff Lee trade. When I concluded my exercise I found the gnawing side stitch that has been my constant companion for these last few weeks had dissipated and that suddenly I was able to look upon spring training with a full breast and an unburdened heart. With permission, I ask to retrace old steps but with a fresh set of eyes.
Ruben wanted Roy Halladay for 4 years. We all did and Ruben got him. But in the bargain, in order to meet a payroll or replenish a farm system, he had to trade Cliff Lee. The deals were done with dispatch but raised pointed and fair questions as to the methodology utilized by Ruben. I am going to try and answer them.
Why the two trades together? I think that, armed with the knowledge that if he got Halladay he would have to get rid of Lee, he chose to trade Lee immediately, thus enabling the club to give the impression to the vast majority of the fan base that the acquisition of Halladay was in fact tied to the departure of Lee, and consequently, watering down the fan base’s disappointment of Lee leaving the team. While all of us on this site know better, Joe Average does not.
Why not hold on to Lee and trade him later for more? Once the Halladay deal is done the fans go to sleep at night dreaming of the best rotation in baseball featuring a one-two punch akin to Koufax-Drysdale. Could Ruben, in the face of a wholesale rebellion reminiscent of the storming of the Bastille, honestly put this town through a process where Ruben looks to deal Cliff for the best batch of prospects instead of the “OK’ batch he got? Could we actually stand by and watch that happen? That would have been public relations suicide. For those of you who think for a second that Ruben could have deftly worked behind the scenes to make a trade happen without word leaking out – fat chance. Also, and not to be discounted, on top of everything else, what do you tell Cliff and his agent when the Phillies have, presumably in good faith, spoken with Lee about a contract extension. You can’t bargain with the man while trying to trade him. At this point, Ruben is GM-ing with one hand behind his back – and he takes the respectable group of prospects lest this all drags out.
Why the Mariners? In order for a deal like this to go down, you need ziplocked lips by all parties. If not, the Angels get wind and jump in, then the Yankees, and whoever else. The deal falls apart because when everything goes public and it becomes a feeding frenzy. Different teams start calling Toronto about Halladay while different teams start calling us about Lee and the whole thing gets screwed up and Ruben loses Halladay. He wouldn’t let that happen. So my guess is that this deal had to pretty much been nailed down at the winter meetings with the teams agreeing to stay cool until everybody could agree on the prospects. No small task. That is where Pat Gillick comes in – and let’s face it, he’s been involved all along. The “honest broker” and “straight shooter” with strong ties to all three teams keeps things in line because each team will listen to him to varying degrees. That’s why Seattle was involved.
I have come to believe the above set of facts to be a reasonable facsimile of what actually happened and, more importantly, why it happened. I believe it, and because of my belief, I have been able to let go of my demons. I am at peace with the deal and I think that if Ruben could have found a way to keep both pitchers he would have. Go Phils.