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Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When word first started to leak out that the Philadelphia Phillies were on the verge of acquiring Roy Halladay, it seemed like Ruben Amaro Jr. had pulled off a masterpiece.
The initial reports had the Phillies shipping Cliff Lee to Seattle for a handful of prospects, who in return would be sent to Toronto for Halladay. In essence it appeared as if the Phillies were going to get Halladay for basically for the same price they paid to obtain Lee, while holding onto their own blue chip prospects.
Give or take a Joe Blanton or a J.A. Happ here or there.
Then word started to trickle in as the night went on that it actually wasn't a three-team deal, but in fact it was a companion deal. Halladay was indeed going to the Phillies, but they would be surrendering prospects, one of whom was the initially-thought-to-be-untouchable Kyle Drabek.
Lee would then be sent packing to Seattle in a separate deal for prospects to offset the cost of acquiring Halladay.
So, instead of getting Halladay basically for Lee, the Phillies got him for a little less than Toronto was asking for him back in July, plus they had to surrender the man who almost single-handedly delivered them their second straight World Series title in Lee.
I am not sure I like it so much anymore.
Let's get this straight - Halladay is the better pitcher of the two. Nobody is arguing that. At the end of the day, the Phillies still wind up with the best player in the deal. You can tout all the prospects you want. I am not sure what Kyle Drabek or Michael Taylor are going to be. I do know that Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball.
My question about the deal is, why did they have to unload Lee? He is making $9 million this year. A lot of teams can cry poverty, but the Phillies are not one of them. They have a reasonable payroll and sell out every night.
Baseball is booming in the City of Brotherly Love.
Apparently, Phillies brass met with Lee's people last week and it did not go well. He wants CC Sabathia money. Fine. Let him walk after the season though. He will be a Type-A free agent, and you will get two first round picks for him.
Any potential picks the Phillies could have reaped for Lee have as much upside as the players they got in return from Seattle.
Joe Blanton is going to make around $8 million this year. Why not deal him? Sure you are not going to get a Phillippe Aumont in return, but who cares what you get? You unload his contract and you have one of the most dominant tops of the rotation in recent memory.
And don't tell me a team would not take Blanton. Randy Wolf just signed a $30 million deal, so believe me, the Phillies could have found a taker for Blanton. Or why not just non-tender him? That deadline was Saturday. I am guessing this Halladay deal was being talked about prior to that.
How about working out a buyout with Jamie Moyer? He is on the books for $6.5 million this year. Who's to say he is even going to pitch? He is 47 and is coming off an awful surgical experience. You could have saved a few million there.
Like I said before, at the end of the day the Phillies get the best player in the deal. Not to mention Halladay agreed to a more-than-reasonable extension, signing a three or four-year deal for $20 million.
I just don't see the need to deal Lee. Plus I am not exactly sure it makes them all that much better this year. Who cares if Halladay is better over the course of 162 games? The Phillies have moved into Red Sox/Yankees territory where they now play a 162-game exhibition until October. Halladay doesn't get them to the playoffs, they were going there with or without him.
Now with that said, if Cole Hamels can be the guy we all think he can be, this is really a moot point.
Either way, though, this move will determine Amaro's legacy.
At this stage it seems like the Blue Jays got a decent return for Halladay, but who really knows? Obviously they are in a different spot than the Phillies. Winning will come down the road, not right now. You won't be able to judge this trade for a few years from their standpoint.
But by all accounts, new GM Alex Anthopolous seemed to bring in a nice haul, considering everyone on the planet knew he had to move Halladay. Reports have circulated that the outfielder he will receive from the Phillies, Michael Taylor, is going to be moved to Oakland for third base prospect Brett Wallace.
Wallace, of course, was the centerpiece of the Matt Holliday-to-St. Louis deal last season.
The big winners here are clearly the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle gets itself a bona fide ace in Cliff Lee, who along with Felix Hernandez adds up to about as nasty a 1-2 combination as there is in the league. Couple this move with the acquisition of Chone Figgins, not to mention the losses by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Mariners can state their case for a division title in the West.
I don't think they are done either.
Jason Bay is waiting for something, and I think this could be it on two fronts. One, Toronto could go hard after him to soften the blow of losing Halladay by returning one of their own in Bay, who was born in British Columbia. Or two, Bay went to school at Gonzaga and still has a house in the Seattle area. With all things being equal I am told he would love to play for the Mariners. I think they could probably get him at a discount.
But, then again, he may just be waiting for the Yankees to get into the mix for him.
RED SOX MAKE MOVES
The three teams named above weren't the only ones making waves on Monday, as the Boston Red Sox not only inked free agent righty John Lackey, but also secured Bay's replacement, signing Mike Cameron to a one-year deal.
Now the big question is, with Lackey in the fold, do the Red Sox make a strong play for San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez with Clay Buchholz as the bait?
The Red Sox really lack pop in their lineup. They need a bat and Gonzalez could be the guy. Keep in mind that San Diego GM Ned Hoyer learned his craft from Theo Epstein. He knows the Red Sox organization inside-and-out. He is going to get exactly what he wants in any Gonzalez deal.
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