So the Phillies lost to the Cubs yesterday. While this wouldn’t normally be big news, the loss ended a ten game win streak, and was only their second loss in their past fifteen games. So unlike the last time I wrote about the Phillies, they’ve been playing pretty well lately.
In fact, they have opened up a 6.5 game lead on the rest of the mediocre to poor National League East. Hopefully, they can keep playing at this high level for the remainder of the season, and cruise to another playoff berth. Knowing the Phillies, they will probably make things as interesting as possible. Of course, if that happens, I will still not complain, since I promised not to complain about the team this season.
Of course, the Phillies aren’t perfect, and their front office has been actively searching for pitching help. Brett Myers, who was expected to be their second best starter, is injured and likely out for the season. That’s left a hole in their starting rotation, which has been made worse by the less than expected performances of Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer. They recently signed former Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, but he will still need some more time before he is ready to help them, and even when he comes back, he can hardly be expected to be a savior. The more intriguing name out there is Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay.
Halladay is also a former Cy Young winner, but unlike Martinez, he is in his prime, and was named the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game earlier this month. Halladay is a legitimate ace level pitcher – the type where you expect to win every game he pitches.
Obviously, pitchers of his caliber are rare, and any team who wants to trade for him would have to give up some good, young prospects. It’s not clear exactly which prospects the Phillies would have to give up, but they would definitely have to be some of their best. And while it seems like giving up several promising young players might be a huge risk, it is a risk the Phillies should take. After all, while there is a chance that one, or several of the players they give up might develop into major league stars, there’s also a good chance that they won’t. This year’s prospect can easily be next year’s bust. Plus, if the minor league system is doing it’s job, then there should always be more prospects coming along down the line.
On the other hand, Halladay is a proven commodity. He’s among the best pitchers in baseball, and if you’re ever going to take a risk, you should take it going after the best talent. With most of the Phillies’ players currently in or near their prime, every move this team makes should be based on winning now. After all, they know that this core is capable of winning a championship, so they should make every effort to maximize that potential.
If they get Halladay, their chances of repeating as World Champions improves. And isn’t that the whole point? From my sports watching experience, you win a championship in one of two ways: Have overwhelming talent that carries the team to a title, or have a very good team that gets hot at the right time or catches a lot of breaks. Last year’s Phillies team was definitely an example of the second way. While they have a very good team, they weren’t clearly more talented than everyone else. They just played better than everyone else when it counted.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to recapture that magic again. Therefore, it behooves them to improve their chances in any way possible. And I’d say that a pitching rotation led by Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels will give them as good a chance as any team out there.
I’m hoping they make the move. But even if they don’t, I still won’t complain.