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December 17, 2009

Prospectus Today

Of Unselfish Decisions and Restocked Systems

by Joe Sheehan

Roy Halladay signed a contract extension today that will guarantee him $60 million over three years, with a vesting option that would pay him another $20 million if he pitches enough innings in the first three years of the deal.

That's the story here: Not the first trade, not the second trade, and not the third trade. The story here is that one of the best players in baseball took somewhere between 35-50 percent of his market value to facilitate a trade, leaving somewhere between $60 and $100 million in guaranteed money on the table. This is a staggering upset, one for which there is virtually no comparison in baseball history.

One year ago, CC Sabathia got $161 million in guaranteed money, an average of $23 million per season over seven seasons, as a full-fledged free agent. Two years ago, in a similar situation to that of Halladay, Johan Santana engineered a trade to the Mets and signed an extension totaling $137.5 million over six seasons, just shy of $23 million per season. Halladay, a bit older than both pitchers at the time of their deals but essentially even in value to both, took less guaranteed money per season across half the guaranteed years. To pull an example from this winter, John Lackey just got a guaranteed $82 million as a free agent. Halladay's teammate for three years, A.J. Burnett, got a guaranteed $82 million one year ago. Neither Lackey nor Burnett has Halladay's credentials. Lackey and Burnett have a combined 36 points in Cy Young voting in their careers; Halladay had 71 in just the 2008 vote alone, the third of four straight seasons in which he's finished in the top five in AL Cy voting.

Halladay's contract is so far removed from his market value that it looks like an error. Remember, he had to approve not only the contract, but the trade to the Phillies that precipitated it. He made the choice that he wanted to be with the Phillies so much-and wanted to be with them immediately so much-that it was worth it to him to leave $60 million, $80 million, maybe $100 million unclaimed. There is no way anyone could have predicted this even a few weeks ago. This is the kind of decision that a player gets to make for himself and his family. Halladay gets to play for a contender in 2010 and gets to do so with a team he wishes to play for, one that holds spring training near his Florida home, and he valued those things more than the marginal dollars foregone by not testing the market. I don't judge him for it, but I do think we should all be stunned by how much money this man left on the table. There is no precedent for it in sports.

The extension Halladay signed justifies an otherwise unremarkable trade by the Phillies, who gave up three good prospects, including the heretofore untouchable Kyle Drabek, to bring in Halladay on the last season of his contract. That's the kind of trade teams make all the time, dealing prospects for a player who can help them win when they're at the peak of the success cycle, and for all the hype this trade has received, it's not all that special in the abstract. The Phillies' ability to get Halladay to sign a favorable extension, however, gives them an anchor in the years to come. It was worth sacrificing the prospects not for the 2010 season, but for the 2011-13, perhaps 2014, seasons to come, at the price they paid for those seasons.

Drabek is the prize of the deal, the son of Cy Young winner Doug Drabek and the Phillies' first-round pick in 2006. After missing most of the 2008 season to Tommy John surgery, Drabek dominated the Florida State League and pitched well enough after a promotion to Double-A for the Phillies to refuse to deal him at the in-season trade deadline. His size-listed at 6'0", 185 pounds-is a concern, especially for his anticipated role as a front-end starter, but his stuff and his performance have alleviated some of those concerns. Michael Taylor, prospect number two, followed up on his breakout 2008 with another strong year, making it to Triple-A in August and holding his own there. He's become more disciplined as he's come through the system, with better K/BB data at Triple-A than Double-A, and Double-A than High-A, without sacrificing the power that is his calling card. I like Domonic Brown's speed and approach a bit better, but there's nothing about Taylor that indicates he isn't already close to the majors. As Kevin Goldstein noted last year, he gets high marks from the Phillies for his makeup as well. Travis D'Arnaud is a young catcher with a broad base of skills who spent the year in the Sally League. A supplemental first-round pick in 2007, D'Arnaud showed good power in 2009 for his league (52 extra-base hits, .164 ISO), with acceptable plate discipline and defense. His second half was much stronger than his first. He's at least two years away, and has some development ahead of him to become an MLB catcher.

The Phillies, to some extent, paid in prospects instead of money for Halladay. The value he left on the table made it possible for the Phillies to trade perhaps their two best prospects and another top-ten guy to get him, because they're not going to be so exposed on the back end of a monster extension.

This, in fact, gets to my biggest problem with the sequence: Roy Halladay just left $60 million on the table to come to Philadelphia. The Phillies couldn't leave $9 million on it in pursuit of putting him on the best team in baseball? I appreciate Ruben Amaro Jr. consistently staying on point, labeling the Cliff Lee trade an exercise in refilling the farm system rather than in keeping the 2010 payroll below an arbitrary number. I do not, however, believe he is doing anything more than fronting for an absurd ownership initiative. The Phillies play in a taxpayer-funded ballpark, have been to back-to-back World Series-with all the direct revenue that generates-and will no doubt pack Citizens Bank Ballpark again in 2010 with another three million people paying even higher ticket, parking, concession, and souvenir prices. To trade away Cliff Lee in a blatant money move is utterly ridiculous under those circumstances, and worse still, turns the Roy Halladay trade into little more than a minor upgrade.

The gap between Halladay and Jamie Moyer, who has drifted to replacement level, is along the lines of six wins in a given season. The gap between Halladay and Lee might be one win. Or it might not. Going from Lee to Halladay is effectively a lateral move in the short term and takes nearly all the air out of the Halladay trade for the Phillies. They have essentially the same team today that they did yesterday, and given that the Blue Jays sent along six million bucks with Halladay, the same payroll that they did yesterday. They will be better for having Halladay the next three years, but at the moment, very little has changed for them other than that they don't have as much depth to call on in 2010 should they need a starting pitcher or an outfielder. They took a prospect downgrade in the deal, getting back less than they dealt away, although that will be mitigated by having Halladay in the three or four seasons that follow.

Unless it was about money-and the idea that therefore Amaro had to trade Lee to be able to acquire Halladay-there was no reason to make the second trade. Even if you grant Amaro's notion that the Phillies wanted to restock the farm system, trading Lee now wasn't at all necessary. The Rangers, having missed out on John Lackey and having watched the Mariners getting better, could be in on a starter. The Mets are looking for rotation help. Any number of teams might have come up with a package better than what the Mariners did, and unless there was a directive to hold down the payroll by trading Lee right now, it behooved Amaro to explore those paths. There was no baseball reason to trade Lee in connection with acquiring Halladay, and no defense of doing both at the same time that doesn't include the phrase "arbitrary payroll figure" sounds nave.

The Phillies' penury is the Mariners' gain. With Erik Bedard making just 15 starts last season, the Mariners' rotation consisted of a Cy Young candidate and a huge falloff to a series of fourth starters. Adding Lee to Felix Hernandez gives them a pair of starters that matches any team's top two, and with Ian Snell, Brandon Morrow, and Ryan Rowland-Smith lining up behind those two, the Mariners' rotation now looks like a strength. This is a team, remember, that put a tremendous defense on the field last year, and with the re-signing of Jack Wilson and import of Chone Figgins, will look to do so again in 2011. Bumping the payroll by trading for Lee and signing Figgins confirms for me a comment I made in a chat session a few weeks back: the Mariners may have decided that they won't be able to sign Hernandez, and will instead try to win a championship in the next two seasons with him. The upgrade from the pitchers who might make the 32 starts Lee will take next season-Doug Fister, Garrett Olson, a third-tier free agent-to Lee is a standings gain of perhaps six wins, or as much of a gain as you can reasonably make in one transaction. Adding Lee moves the Mariners from a .500 team to one of the co-favorites in a division where the Angels have taken huge talent hits and the Rangers might be a year shy of asserting dominance. Depending on how the rest of the winter shakes out, the Mariners might be the team to beat come April, but they still need at least one, maybe two hitters.

They didn't cripple their future in making this deal, either, giving up less in talent to get Lee than the Phillies did to get Halladay. Phillippe Aumont is a 2007 first-round pick who has just 106 2/3 professional innings under his belt, in part because he was converted to relief a year ago after elbow soreness plagued him in '08. He's basically an upside play for the Phillies, with the elbow issues and lack of a third pitch a tradeoff for the great power sinker and youth. Tyson Gillies had leadoff-man skills, with a career .419 OBP and 80/33 SB/CS numbers in three pro seasons. He draws walks and runs, and it will be interesting to see what happens to his strikeout and walk rates as he hits Double-A next year. In a package of long-term plays, Gillies is closest to the majors. Juan Ramirez, J.C. in some reports (for Juan Carlos), is all projection, no performance, advancing one level a season despite mediocre ERAs and passable rates. As Kevin Goldstein noted last month, though, "Ramirez has a big body, a big fastball, and many scouts think he's just a few refinements away from taking off." The Mariners traded long-term upside, players who would not be in the majors until 2012 at the earliest, to make the 2010 team as good as it can be. This trade is the strongest statement about a GM's belief in where his team is as you'll find; Jack Zduriencik thinks the Mariners can win this year, and that they are no longer, if they ever were, rebuilding. At that, however, the Mariners didn't trade Brandon Morrow, they didn't trade Michael Saunders, and they didn't trade Carlos Truinfel. They still have building blocks for future teams.

As good as the Mariners did, though, the big winners here were the Blue Jays. Behind the eight-ball with a pitcher they could not sign and could not trade without his permission, which likely meant a value-killing contract commitment, they were able to bring in three prospects who could all be part of winning teams in the middle of the decade. What Alex Anthopolous brought back dwarfs what the Twins got for Santana two years ago. It's too easy to say that Drabek could grow into a Halladay replacement, but he has that kind of ability. Remember that the Blue Jays have shown a facility for turning lesser pitchers into league-average starters. Drabek has more talent than any pitcher in their system. D'Arnaud is a polished hitter with a strong enough arm to remain behind the plate, and while he doesn't have the star potential Drabek has, he projects as an inexpensive, good player at a key position.

Anthoplolous traded the third prospect, Taylor, to the A's for Brett Wallace. This is an interesting challenge trade, dealing the more complete player for the player with one dominant skill. The Jays' advantage in acquiring Wallace is that they will be able to develop him as a first baseman if need be, as they have only Lyle Overbay in his way, and that only for a year. Wallace isn't as bad a third baseman as he looks to be on first glance, lacking lateral range but having acceptable hands and moving fairly well back and forth. An eventual move off of third has long been assumed inevitable, and if that is necessary, the Jays can fade that. Wallace joins Travis Snider and Adam Lind for what could end up as a championship-caliber middle of the lineup. For the A's part, they get the player with the broader skill set who may fit their situation a bit better; the A's need outfielders who can cover ground, and Taylor is a good right fielder who could make their team out of spring training.

All of these moves were set in motion by one decision: Roy Halladay taking half his value to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies. For that, the Phillies assure themselves an ace in 2011-13, the Blue Jays get a package that didn't look within their reach to kick-start their rebuilding, the Mariners launch themselves to perhaps a lead role in the AL West, and the A's align their talent slightly better as they try to get back to prominence. That's a big day for one man, and he won't even throw a pitch for his new team for another two months.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

128 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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amazin_mess
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May he blow his elbow out in Mid-April and have Tommy John a week later.

Dec 16, 2009 22:50 PM
rating: -134
 
Matt Kory

May you blow out a knuckle typing things like that.

Dec 17, 2009 08:49 AM
rating: 15
 
Randy Brown
(189)

Why do you even bother posting? Take this garbage back to talk radio where it belongs. Actually, it doesn't even belong there.

I'll admit to taking the message board here a bit more personally than I should. It is an oasis of well-thought out, reasoned arguments. You consistently lower the bar, and it frustrates me. Please, stop.

Dec 17, 2009 10:25 AM
rating: 7
 
PeterBNYC

I believe this gentleman would be happier at another site where his talent for uninhibited comment would be properly appreciated. I suggest BP 86 him and send him back his subscription. Disgusting.

Dec 17, 2009 10:45 AM
rating: 6
 
eighteen

Please don't feed the troll.

Dec 17, 2009 12:26 PM
rating: 2
 
NYYanks826

I don't think I've ever seen a rating that low in my life. Can we get to -100?

Dec 17, 2009 13:32 PM
rating: 1
 
Greg Ioannou

I can't remember a comment on BP that was anywhere near as idiotic. A rating of -100 sounds about right. (I wonder if some stats wank out there is thinking about analyzing the ratings #s?)

Dec 17, 2009 13:59 PM
rating: 0
 
cdt719

It's down to -131 now.

Dec 27, 2009 06:04 AM
rating: -1
 
hennethannun

I really don't understand why the phillies dealt Lee. Amaro can say whatever he wants about restocking the system, but if that's really the goal then why not wait it out until later in the offseason cycle when the less active teams start to feel pressure from their fanbase to 'make a splash' in the offseason? Or better yet, why not wait until July, get the benefit of a half season from Lee and then move him when the various contenders will be desperate to add Lee for a dominant stretch run a la his 2009? Is this really the best offer that any team made for Cliff Lee? And if so, why is such a great pitcher being dealt twice for so little in less than 6 months. What do GMs know about him that we dont?
Unless the phillies are absolutely convinced that Lee's 2008-2009 performance is totally unsustainable (either because it was all smoke and mirrors and he's about to crash back to earth or because his arm is about to fall off) there is no plausible baseball reason to trade him right now.

Dec 16, 2009 22:53 PM
rating: 2
 
bflaff

Not to be too flip, but maybe the Phillies liked the package Seattle was offering. I don't know that anyone can say that some bigger haul was out there if only some patience had been exercised. And as for waiting, that's not the Phillies MO, which seems to be about locking in cost certainty as quickly as possible. The FO seems to be extremely reluctant to let the offseason drag on without knowing what they'll be spending.

And for whatever reason (his impending free agency, most likely) the GM decided that Lee offered the team the most reasonable bang for the buck in terms of prospects vs. benefit to the team.

Dec 17, 2009 13:28 PM
rating: 2
 
hennethannun

That's a fine theory, but how can you possibly say that Lee offered more value to the team as trade bait. Look at how good he was for them last year and look at who will replace him in the pitching rotation (Jamie Moyer). Lee is only there for one more year, and the three guys they got clearly have more value than 2 compensation picks in the 2011 draft. But the phillies are in the 90-95 expected win zone where each additional victory has massive implications in terms of making the playoffs and getting home field advantage. Additionally, their core guys (ie howard, utley and rollins) are either aging or have skill sets that tend to fade quickly. It's is also very unlikely that they will be able to sign everyone after 2011 or 2012. Given all that, I'm pretty comfortable with the statement that there is no credible baseball reason to trade Lee right now. It was a salary move.

Dec 18, 2009 07:44 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

Well RAJ doesn't seem to agree that the team is 2010 or bust, so you have to accept his perspective. He intends to try to keep the team at an elite level in 2011 and beyond, and isn't fatalistic about inevitable declines or rapidly closing windows. And if he's going to keep the team going, then he has to restock the minor league system with talent that could be ready to go in 2011. (Considering that Gillies and Aumont, if not all 3, will begin the year in AA, they're on target to meet that goal.) There really aren't any other players on the roster who are expendable enough and good enough to net the kind of prospects that Lee did (others are expendable but not as good, or as good but not as expendable). Of course money had something to do with it as well, both for this year and beyond, since the owners clearly aren't going to let the payroll swell too much as the core gets older and more expensive. So Ruben's either going to have to let other popular players go as they get older and more expensive, or find a way to surround them with minimum wage talent ASAP. Trading Lee was a painful, but rational way of helping to meet that goal. At least imo.

Of course they're increasing their risk of not winning the pennant by shipping out Lee, but they have more than enough talent as is to get to the promised land next season. So while RAJ is forgoing a short term gain in Lee, he's also trying to secure a more reliable long term future for the club. That probably makes the bosses happy, and the fans might appreciate it too if it works. The Phillies are starting to act like a heavyweight team that isn't just trying to catch lightning in a bottle before they crap out and start over. Like Boston, the Yankees, and other elite franchises, they're trying to win now while also putting themselves in a position to win tomorrow. The Lee trade may bust, but I can see the logic behind it.

Dec 18, 2009 22:33 PM
rating: 0
 
onegameref

Is this supposed money left on the table any more unbelievable than what Juan Gonzalez left on the table oh so many years ago?

Dec 16, 2009 23:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Completely different situation. Gonzalez thought he could get more, which is why he turned it down. Halladay is purposely choosing less.

Dec 17, 2009 07:10 AM
rating: 5
 
amazin_mess
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No - it is not.

He's still absurdly rich and one of the highest paid players in the game. How generous of him though. Must be he'll just light his cigars with $50s instead of hundreds.

Dec 16, 2009 23:30 PM
rating: -78
 
Matt Kory

You turn down $100 million like Halladay just did, then you can say that.

Dec 17, 2009 06:59 AM
rating: 7
 
amazin_mess
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Halladay did not turn down $100 million. Just because Sheehan says he did doesn't make it so. Did it ever occur to some of you that the reason he went to Philly is because they were the only ones willing to pony up the cash for a pitcher about to enter his decline phase? Probably not.

Instead the majority of you prefer to cowtow to Joe Sheehan's idea that Halladay somehow rejected a deal of $150M for six years to sign with Philly. It's PURE FICTION.

It's another instance of BP, esp Joe, glorifying the major league ballplayer.

Dec 17, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: -22
 
PeterBNYC

Get rid of this guy.

Dec 17, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: 6
 
Matt Kory

I'd just like to point out that your three comments have been rated a collective -208.

Dec 18, 2009 11:45 AM
rating: -1
 
jwillie

There has to be a reason Lee was dealt. You must assume the deal wouldn't have happened without him in it, or the Phillies don't trust he can keep up the performance or health.

Dec 16, 2009 23:45 PM
rating: 1
 
eliyahu

Joe, I really don't understand this premise of Halladay having left money on the table. Yes, he left the guaranteed money on the table, but the strong likelihood is that he will play beyond 2013, meaning he will collect a salary commensurate with his skill set at that time. Indeed, signing a three-year contract instead of a six-year deal may get him more money in the long term.

I typically like your articles, but this foundation of him leaving 60M-100M on the table seems like a dubious hook on which to hang your hat.

Dec 16, 2009 23:47 PM
rating: 7
 
Scott D. Simon

I agree with eliyahu. The Sabathia deal may prove to be an outlier, much like the A-Rod-Rangers deal was. Neither I, nor any other baseball fans I know, felt that Halladay signed for less than 90% of his market value.

Dec 17, 2009 00:01 AM
rating: 0
 
lunatic96

Halladay will be 36 years old when he comes for a new contract. I sincerely doubt that anybody will be lining up to give him another 60-80 million.

Dec 17, 2009 00:27 AM
rating: 7
 
Randy Brown
(189)

Derek Lowe got it.

Dec 17, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: 8
 
Adam B.

Halladay bears the risk of any decline in performance or injury. during the next four seasons. If he continues to play at this level, the money (or even more) will be there, along with the flexibility of where to play; if there's a decline, he doesn't get the money.

Dec 17, 2009 06:20 AM
rating: 4
 
Matt Kory

"if there's a decline, he doesn't get the money."

This is exactly the reason players sign long term contracts rather than year-to-year contracts, and exactly the reason teams try to keep contracts shorter.

The Phils are paying Halladay close to the going rate on a season-by-season basis for the next three or four years, but if they were to have signed him as a free agent, they would have been obligated to do so for at least six years and if not more, years when the player would have likely declined in productivity and thus, were he a free agent at the time, commanded less on the open market.

Dec 17, 2009 07:20 AM
rating: 2
 
ScottyB

Halladay's older than CC or Santana, so getting 7-8 years was not realistic. But 5 at $20M per would still be a great deal for the Phillies. Halladay instead opted for 2010 at ~$15M (under his current contract- Santana had the Mets rip up his existing contract), and then 2011-13 at $20M per, with performance incentives that could guarantee him $20M in 2014. So, e is guaranteed $75M over 4 years, with a good chance for $95M over 5. A discount, but not to the extent Joe contends.

Dec 17, 2009 09:21 AM
rating: 4
 
prs130

Agreed... Let's say for the sake of argument that Halladay has full confidence in his health lasting through until December of 2014. He gets a brand new free agent contract while CC is still getting paid in 2008 dollars. If his arm falls off between now and the day the 2014 option vests, then it is true that he left as much money on the table as Joe suggests. Otherwise, it will have been something significantly less. How much was an elite 30+ FA pitcher going for in, say, 2004? Assuming the he's healthy, would he prefer to be a FA now, or would he prefer to locked in for 2010-2012 at his current per annum? If Halladay is confident that his arm will hold up, he could rationally be expecting to do better than Sabathia $wise in the long run.

Dec 17, 2009 10:23 AM
rating: 1
 
archilochusColubris

Love the take, Joe.

Everybody's been talking about how the Phillies got hosed in the talent portion of this deal, but you're absolutely right: the opportunity to sign this extension with Halladay was worth it. Granted, no one this side of no one is providing any believable justification for the Phillies' flipping Lee, but taken as a whole, i can't call this as anything but 3 big winners (and a good move for the Athletics to top it off).

eliyahu does make a good point (though somewhat exaggerated): this isn't even necessarily at the expense of Halladay. He may have the confidence in his arm to marginalize a guaranteed contract, and is willing to leave a good chuck of change on the table for a more amenable situation (and no-- this isn't the first time). Regardless, i'm skeptical that any hypothetical extension Halladay could have signed would yield anywhere near 60-100M more than he will actually earn over the next 6 years, injury risk be damned.

Rather, this seems like one of those rare exceptionally well designed blockbusters that doles out all the right pegs to all the right holes and everybody makes out like bandits. Well, hush-hushing the fact that the Phillies didn't have to be quite so generous with their booty...

Dec 17, 2009 00:05 AM
rating: 4
 
Scott D. Simon

I also feel compelled to add that the Phillies fans I know are PISSED at the Lee trade.

Joe, I feel like you are making the same mistake repeatedly: That is, you are overestimating the market value for players. You admitted your mistake regarding the Yankees not offering arbitration to Andy Petite and Bobby Abreu last year. A lot of teams are pleading poverty right now, and they aren't incentivized to try to win.

There are going to be times when certain players have tremendous leverage, and yes, Halladay is a premier player, but Halladay was not a free agent and still got 20m a year.

Dec 17, 2009 00:10 AM
rating: 0
 
Jared

You're right, a lot of Phillies fans are PISSED at the Lee deal... but, a lot of the same fans were PISSED last year when we got Lee instead of Doc (even though the Lee trade was brilliant, and I understood why we didn't pull the trigger on Doc at the time... even though the idea of both of them in a Phillies uniform, starting last year, would have been enticing to say the least and no fan in their right mind would have been mad about the gamble)

Dec 17, 2009 05:48 AM
rating: 2
 
jakewlandis

Saying that Phils fans were pissed about getting Lee last year is a huge overstatement. No one thought giving up Drabek was wise then, and the worry that Happ might also go dominated the discussion. When Lee was acquired, Phils fans seemed delighted to keep Drabek, Happ and get the obvious better side of the deal compared to Cleveland.

Dec 18, 2009 10:13 AM
rating: 0
 
arcee555

Whoa Joe! Don't get carried away. Halladay's contract stacks up pretty close to Sabathia & Santana. OK,OK it is slightly discounted because the per year amt is 1-3 million less, but you understate the age difference between the named pitchers. Santana signed with the mets at age 29 and Sabathia was 28, 3 & 4 years younger respectively than Roy. Yes they all pitch similarly today, but Santana & Sabathia are being paid for how they will pitch through their early 30's, Halladay's current age. Halladay is being paid for how he will pitch in his mid 30's. In 3 years I suspect Santana & Sabathia will be the superior pitchers, because of their younger ages.

Dec 17, 2009 00:38 AM
rating: 8
 
ostrowj1

Sabathia is getting 23 million on average for 7 years. His productivity is likely not going to be uniform over this time interval. I assume the Yankees figured he was worth maybe $30 in the first few seasons, falling to 10-15 million in the last few seasons. In that context, the Halladay deal is not close to the Sabathia deal.

Dec 17, 2009 09:15 AM
rating: -1
 
arcee555
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Whoa Joe! You understate the age difference between Halladay, Santana, & Sabathia. Their contracts are more because they are longer term. They signed at 3 & 4 years younger than Halladays current extension, so they are being paid for how they will pitch in their early 30's, Halladay's current age. Roy is being paid for how he will pitch in his mid 30's. The talent is equal now, but what are the odds Sabathia & Santana are superior pitchers in 3 yrs from now, when Halladay is 35+ yrs old.

Dec 17, 2009 00:43 AM
rating: -5
 
arcee555

Whoa arcee555! one post would have been enough.

Dec 17, 2009 00:45 AM
rating: 16
 
fawcettb

Excellent take on all of it. That's two in a row you've nailed, with some of the best analysis I've seen in a long time. AA was in a tough spot, and he did his job better than his precedessor was able to in 8 old years.

Dec 17, 2009 05:14 AM
rating: 1
 
Greg Ioannou

I heard AA interviewed on The Fan last night. What strikes you immediately is that he is much more professional -- and just plain much smarter -- than JP. One of his basic attitudes was that he would get a much better deal if he could make it a win for everyone concerned. He also understands that future good deals are more likely to happen with that attitude. His answer to "are you finished trading for the winter" was something along the lines of "I've barely started." All very encouraging.

Dec 17, 2009 09:01 AM
rating: 3
 
bflaff

Yep, JP was clownshoes.

Dec 17, 2009 13:35 PM
rating: 2
 
Jared

As a phillies fan, i have a strong belief that the Lee deal was two thirds ownership, one third Ruben. I have heard more about the phillies 140M payroll over the past couple weeks than i ever could have imagined, so it's clear that ownership didn't want to go above this number. The 6M coming back from the Jays, and the subsequent trade of Lee's 9M contract screams that ownership wouldn't have let Ruben go over this budget. That being said, Ruben could have been a little more creative. He could have traded blanton's 7M, and sold ownership on the benefits of keeping Lee over Blanton for only 2M. Granted, i'm sure he explored this option, but probably didn't get many bites on a Blanton trade which made him explore what he could get for Lee. He clearly likes the prospects from the M's, and even though he probably could have waited it out and possibly found a better deal for Lee, it seems obvious that ownership wouldn't have allowed the Halladay trade without knowing that another significant salary was coming off the books at the same time. So, i think a part of the Lee trade was Ruben thinking that he needed to restock the system, but a much bigger part was that ownership had his hands tied from the start and Ruben knew it was now or never if he wanted to get his guy... and he did what he needed to do to make it happen.

At the end of the day, i'm happy with the trade. I think all teams involved should be happy. We now have an ace locked up at a reasonable salary for 4 years, which is essentially the Phillies "window of opportunity" with their current core. If my theory about Ruben being handcuffed by ownership is correct, I think he made a prudent decision to sacrifice one year of Lee for four of Doc, while also restocking the farm a bit. I'm not mad at Ruben for making this decision, and it's also tough to be too mad at ownership when trying to be objective and looking at it from the business side... 140M isn't a small number. And obviously, the M's and Jay's made out well in this deal also...

Dec 17, 2009 05:42 AM
rating: 2
 
mltepper

You don't blame Amaro for signing Polanco, Schneider and Gload for millions? As I've said in the unfiltered thread. They didn't have to even choose between Blanton or Lee, he just didn't have to sign these replaceable players as soon. Then the draft picks they would get for Lee would have restocked the system just as well as getting the guys they got via the Mariners. (I'm not sure but it might have been possible they would get draft pick compensation for Blanton as well.)

Obviously Halladay at the deal they got him with is fantastic. Nobody will complain about that, it would be silly. But that doesn't make Amaro or the Ownership infallible. I get that you want to look at the deal in the glass half full sense, but I see a real missed opportunity.

Dec 17, 2009 06:40 AM
rating: 9
 
Matt Kory

mltepper is exactly right.

Amaro has been GM for two years and each year when the free agency period begins he's been out of the box like a jackrabbit. He had to have some inclination that he might try to do something along these lines and he obviously knew the dollar threshold that ownership was mandating, yet he still ran out and threw millions at mediocre players, severely limiting his ability to keep his star players later on.

Dec 17, 2009 07:29 AM
rating: 2
 
mwright

Focusing solely on the Lee deal, this is why it is so frustrating for Phillies fans. The lack of creativity in locking up beaten-up spare parts for the bench resulted in a missed opportunity to retain Lee and have the best rotation in baseball to go along with a top shelf lineup.

There are NRI-type players that can fill the roles of Schneider, Gload, & Castro where any marginal shortfall in talent could not possibly match the difference between Lee and whoever becomes their fifth starter. And that would include if they chose to forego Polanco and sign a cheaper solution at 3b to make up for keeping Lee's salary.

Ruben Amaro obviously placed a premium on being able to lock up his 25-man roster early rather than buy into the idea that there are near-free replacement level players floating around every offseason to fill such roles.

Now if he goes and deals Blanton for some mediocre veteran middle reliever or spends a few million $ a year on one as a free agent, he is going to be crucified. Of course, in the latter case, he'll say 'See, I told you the Lee deal was to restock the farm system.' Yikes.

Sorry to whine when we have to NL pennants in a row, but it doesn't excuse what appears to be a very questionable portfolio management decision. As Joe wisely points out, this only narrowly makes the Phils better when Halladay could have been a 5- to 7-win addition to a 90-win team and given them a ridiculous playoff rotation.

Dec 17, 2009 10:03 AM
rating: 1
 
prs130

100% agreement. Like you couldn't have found someone for league minimum to do what Schneider and Gload are going to do? You're going to ship out a great/elite pitcher to restock a farm system in the hope that one day five years from now, Phillipe Aumont will be a great/elite pitcher?

I love Polanco, but I'd rather have Dobbs hacking away and Lee still on the payroll...

Dec 17, 2009 11:25 AM
rating: -1
 
antoine6

I would love to see some analysis of the difference between Polanco and Greg Dobbs compared to the difference between Cliff Lee and Jamie Moyer. I find it hard to believe they aren't close to equal.

Also, people can criticize Amaro for not managing the budget well (I have), but they should do it based on the deal that pays Jamie Moyer 8 million this year. Signing Gload and Schneider were not issues. They're both making a million dollars this year. Any guys they'd have at the minimum would cost about $400,000. So if you replace those two, you're getting savings of just over a million dollars. That doesn't get you to Cliff Lee. Come on people.

Dec 17, 2009 12:04 PM
rating: 2
 
prs130

not sure where you're getting your numbers. Schneider $2.75M/2y. Gload $2.60M/2y. Polanco $18M/3y. for 2010 alone, that's $1.25 + $1.3 + $5M = $7.5M. Subtract the cost of three replacement-level contracts and you get around $6M. Certainly within sniffing distance of what it takes to get Lee for 2010. So antoine6, settling for minor league bench players instead of washed-up vets may not get you a year's worth of a Cy Young winner, but it gets you within $3M. At that point, you can pass the hat if you need to...

Dec 17, 2009 12:50 PM
rating: 0
 
antoine6

No, check your numbers. The Gload and Schneider contracts are both paying 1 million this year, and more next year. Value isn't spread evenly over the two years.

Also, if you're including Polanco, it isn't 3 bench players you're making replacement-level. You're also making your starting 3rd baseman replacement-level.

I'm not saying that still wouldn't be worth it to have Cliff Lee in this rotation, but it's a lot different than people are making it out to be. The Gload and Schneider signings are virtually irrelevant (again, total savings going cheap there would be about $1.2 million), and to get to the money number to afford Lee, you'd have go replacement-level with your starting 3rd baseman, and then probably deplete your bullpen more to get the final 3 million out of the way.

Dec 17, 2009 15:25 PM
rating: 3
 
mltepper

I'm completely aware that I'm willing to make my 3rd baseman replacement level in order to keep Cliff Lee and have him replace Jamie Moyer in the rotation.

I'd take that trade-off considering the team's offense and defense isn't a problem. The only perceivable weakness is pitching. Good starting will keep the bullpen from being exposed more than it has to be and building a bullpen is more about skill and luck rather than actually paying for one. (Remember the great bullpen the Phillies had two years ago was Lidge, Madson and a merry band of misfits and castoffs that seem to just work well.)

Dec 17, 2009 19:40 PM
rating: 0
 
Jared

no, i don't blame ruben for those moves. i think he got good value in the polanco deal (i think he's an upgrade over Feliz, and we're only paying him half a million more... good value in my mind), and he didn't pay the other guys much so im not sure where your complaint is. i guess you are saying that he acted too fast, and should have waited to see how things shook out and tried to grab a bargain late in the offseason? if so, i disagree with that strategy. im fine with him being decisive, and acting when he has a chance to sign the player he wants at the price he is comfortable with.

Dec 17, 2009 09:53 AM
rating: 3
 
Matt Kory

"im fine with him being decisive, and acting when he has a chance to sign the player he wants at the price he is comfortable with."

I think its safe to say that that strategy cost him the opportunity to have both Halladay and Lee in his starting rotation.

Dec 17, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

"I think its safe to say that that strategy cost him the opportunity to have both Halladay and Lee in his starting rotation."

I think that's overstating it. That strategy has nothing to do with the fact that the Phillies upper level MiLB talent was very depleted by the trade for Halladay. Amaro, Jr. could put blinders on, only worry about 2010, and enjoy feeling like the Yankees for a year, but then the team would be running a risk of being unprepared for 2011 and beyond. The Phillies payroll growth is unsustainable at this point, and they need to think about how and where they can replace expensive talent with cheap, viable alternatives. Especially if they want to continue being an elite level contender. If the minor league system is currently Dom Brown plus a bunch of low level maybes, that doesn't inspire confidence. For one year of Lee, the Phillies bought some reassurance that they'll have talent in the pipeline for next year. And only Cliff Lee apparently offered them the combo of a) a replaceable talent (with Doc) and b) a guy who wasn't in their long term plans. Both of which made him (reluctantly, I hope) expendable, given the Phillies situation and needs.

Dec 17, 2009 14:02 PM
rating: 2
 
Matt Kory

Keeping Lee is hardly "only worrying about 2010". They're going to get 2 first round picks for him at the end of the year which isn't light years away from three A ballers. Not the same, but not too different either.

I just don't see how Phillies fans can defend this move. A team trying to win now with the collection of talent they have in the field and on the mound simply does not make trades like this.

Dec 18, 2009 11:48 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

I think there really is a big difference between getting two picks for Lee in the June 2011 draft vs. getting all 3 players from the Lee deal to begin the year in AA in 2010. (RAJ has already said that he plans to assign all 3 to AA.) Unless the Phillies want to use those 2 theoretical Lee picks on good, advanced college level players who can jump to the majors in under a year (an extremely unrealistic expectation, I'd think), they're going to get players who wouldn't realistically hit the big leagues until - what - 2014 at the earliest? (2012 in A, 2013 in AA). Meanwhile the Phils can hope that their Lee haul will be ready to contribute as soon as 2011 or 2012. That's not an insignificant difference at all, especially considering the serious payroll crunch that's going to hit the team in 2011. The ability to bring in minimum wage talent at that point is more or less essential if the Phillies want to avoid shedding other useful, popular players.

Dec 18, 2009 22:52 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

There's still a big difference between getting two picks when Lee leaves vs. the 3 prospects they got in yesterday's deal. One difference is that these 3 have been tested in the minors, so they're not imaginary lottery tickets like Anthony Hewitt, who was the Phillies' last #1 pick. But more importantly, they're upper level talent, and thus will be MLB ready well before any of the compensation picks they'd get when Lee left town. This is critically important for a team with little upper level MiLB talent after Dom Brown, which also has an unsustainably expensive core of MLB talent. They need to replenish as soon as 2011, and have no apparent interest in going all in on the next year at the risk of cratering thereafter while they wait for their new wave of talent to emerge.

Was money a part of it? It wasn't not a part of it, but the bigger imperative seems to have been about replacing the upper level, legit talent that they lost when they dealt for Halladay.

Dec 17, 2009 13:50 PM
rating: 2
 
ddrezner

Joe, two thoughts: First, if Halliday is at the phase in his career where he's interested in consistently pitching for a playoff-caliber team, then doesn't the contract make more sense? He's signed to the Phillies for the peak-to-start-of-decline years of their core, and can then go into the "ronin" phase of his career by signing with another playoff contender come 2015.

Second, aren't you exaggerating the money Holliday could get in free agency? He's not equivalent to Sabathia or Santana because of his age at free agency. Would anyone have signed him to an 8 year deal going into his age 34 season? I mean, maybe the Astros, but....

Dec 17, 2009 06:19 AM
rating: -1
 
Matt Kory

"Would anyone have signed him to an 8 year deal going into his age 34 season?"

No, but maybe they would have given him a 5 year deal at more than $20 million a year.

I think the forest is being lost for the trees here. Imagine that Halladay, instead of signing with the Phillies, stays with the Jays one more season and then becomes a free agent. We'll say conservatively, its a tough market and he nets a 4 year deal at $23 million per year. The truth is he likely would command much more than that, but we're being conservative to make a point. That 4 year contract at $23 million a year is $32 million more than he's guaranteed right now. $32 million! Can you even fathom how much money that is?

Dec 17, 2009 07:37 AM
rating: 2
 
ElAngelo
(942)

The dollars and cents on the deal just don't add up. Keeping Lee cost $9 million, and in return they were guaranteed two draft picks in the 2011 draft plus whatever else he yielded in added value during the year. I doubt these three prospects will come close to amounting to that.

Dec 17, 2009 06:21 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

You could also argue that three promising, upper level prospects have more value to the club in 2011 than two compensation picks, who won't be ready to help as quickly. The timetables on Seattle's 3 are much faster, and will be theoretically ready to arrive and replenish just when the big league team needs them.

It's passing up a big short term gain in order to get a bigger long term benefit. And as far as short term gains goes, the Phillies were a WS team with only 2 months of Cliff Lee. They'll have a full year of someone who is slightly better, and didn't lose any (other) big pieces, so Amaro, Jr. could reasonably conclude -- especially given the lack of movement from the NL's other big teams -- that he already has a good shot at another pennant winner on paper. If you look at it that way, they've still upgraded their pennant-winning team in the short term, albeit only slightly, but they've also taken a significant step towards making sure the team can sustain this level of performance after 2010. There's something to be said for that.

Dec 17, 2009 14:17 PM
rating: 2
 
jdtk99

I think the most interesting part of this trade is the Blue Jays ability to leverage Doc's willingness to sign a below market deal with the Phillies. The Blue Jays recieved prospects equal to the the value of Doc on a 4/75M contract even though they only had him signed to 1/15M. Value was created were there wasn't any before the trade and extension agreement. I guess this is a Doc's going away present to the Jays.

Dec 17, 2009 06:27 AM
rating: 4
 
bugbear

Except I honestly don't think that's where the value came from. Perhaps if the Phillies had to outbid someone to get Doc + the extension, but he really, he was only signing it for them. Since Halladay made it clear he wasn't going to allow an in-season trade, I don't see how the favorable extension helped.

Personally, what I think is essentially bought one of the Phillies prospects for $6 million. Which casts an awful light on perhaps Amaro's #1 mistake as GM, signing a 46 year old Jamie Moyer to a two year contract that will pay him $8 million in 2010. Moyer was a Type A free agent that off season. If he had been offered arbitration, there's no chance he was going anywhere. I know hindsight is 20/20, but terrible decision then, and cost the Phillies a Halladay/Lee/Hamels rotation (or at least whatever value they sent to the Jays for that $6 million) now.

Dec 17, 2009 06:44 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

I agree 100%, but just for the record, Cot's says Moyer is due $6.5 million in 2010.

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/philadelphia-phillies_18.html

Dec 17, 2009 08:40 AM
rating: 2
 
antoine6

He hit incentives last year that actually bumps it up to 8, I believe.

Dec 17, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
mltepper

Dave Montgomery (one of the Phillies owners) and Ruben Amaro both have said recently (Amaro as of this morning on the radio) that the Phillies are running at a loss. Is this a complete lie. I can't believe this is true considering what you are saying in regards to a taxpayer funded ballpark and going to the world series twice in two years and winning once (not to mention making it to the postseason three years ago as well).

Are they somehow cooking the books to get the fans off their backs or are they just flat out lying?

Dec 17, 2009 06:34 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

Its probably not a lie so much as it is a selective truth. My guess is they aren't counting all the revenue they're receiving into the equation. I'd bet if you add everything together, they're not losing money.

Dec 17, 2009 08:42 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

If they're insinuating the Phils don't have the cash flow for Lee's contract, they're lying.

Dec 17, 2009 12:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Austin (Raleigh)

I believe the Phillies' management had to make the Lee deal now because if they had let their fanbase dream for even 1 day about a rotation with Halladay AND Lee they would have been eviscerated when they moved Lee for prospects later in the offseason.
Taking less for Lee now, while the fans are happy about Halladay, is better than getting slightly more later, and having the fanbase revolt.
(Count De-Amaro, The fans are revolting!......You said it, they stink on ice!)

Dec 17, 2009 07:07 AM
rating: 5
 
Matt Kory

Ah, the fanbase'll forget about it after Spring Training starts. Heck, they may even forget about it after the Halladay presser. Any team that makes decisions based on what the fans think is doomed to make bad decisions (which, not conversely, is what Amaro has repeatedly done in his time as GM, with the lone exception of acquiring Lee in the first place).

Dec 17, 2009 08:44 AM
rating: 0
 
dcarroll

I am not sure why it is so surprising that Halladay "left money on the table." I do not know what $140 million can buy that $60 million cannot. It looks to me that Halladay considered a host of relevant factors and made a decision that makes sense for himself and his family.

Dec 17, 2009 08:33 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Nobody is begrudging him the decision, it's just that this isn't leaving $500,000 on the table to play closer to home. This is leaving more money on the table than has ever been left on the table in the history of sports. He left, conservatively, $40,000,000 on the table. That's a staggeringly unbelievable amount to essentially turn down.

In my opinion, anyone who says, "ah, whats the difference between $60 and $140 million" either hasn't really thought about what that means, or can't do math.

Dec 17, 2009 08:48 AM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

$80 million worth of stuff!!!!!

Dec 17, 2009 09:25 AM
rating: 9
 
warclub

Did anyone notice how Halladay's agent was never mentioned? Halladay basically dictated where he wanted to play and he took less money to get where he wanted to go.

Sabathia's contract is bloated because he didn't want to go to New York initially. Their original offer was more than anyone else offered (reportedly) and he turned it down, because he wanted to play on the West Coast.

Maybe more players should go where they want instead of where their agent and the MLBPA wants them to go.

Dec 17, 2009 09:42 AM
rating: -1
 
Rob_in_CT

I agree with the general thought, but I think you've exaggerated. Halladay will be 33 next year. Could he have gotten $60-100MM more than he just got?

Well, he just got 3/$60MM with a shot at 4/$80MM. So you're saying he'd have gotten 6/$120 *minimum* on the open market. I doubt that's the floor. I think that's closer to a ceiling.

So he may have left money on the table, yes. But not $60-100MM.

Dec 17, 2009 08:44 AM
rating: 1
 
hessshaun

Joe, dead on and it took me a while to come to this conclusion myself. There are so many facets to this deal, you can't just blindly sit down and have one conclusion and be done. The facts are as you presented them.

Halladay and Lee deals were both brilliant moves. You can't take away either move and especially at that cost certainty. We could sit here and come up with deals all day that were atrocious.

Lee was dealt way too quickly. I agree with you and I think the ownership forced the hand. There is absolutely no other logical reason not to pit the Angels and the Mariners against each other and watch the pot increase steadily over the course of the next few months.

A few other items that I find to be interesting.

I like to think that the ownership forced the hand of Rueben but there is a part of me that isn't so sure. He was extremely quick to pull the trigger on Ibanez, (which is still a bad contract) Polanco (no valuation on the market at this point), and signed Moyer to two years. He is a bit trigger happy to say the least.

This entire deal just smells of Pat Gillick. Anyone could say so what, but I just find it to be interesting. I am just surprised the Orioles weren't in on the action.

Last but not least. I see mentioning of Phils fans in the thread. As a Phils fan, I can say with conviction that we are, as a whole, retarded. Not all of us, but we certainly earn our perception in the sports world. I can't listen to the radio right now with all the slop people are throwing around. It's really a joke.

Dec 17, 2009 08:50 AM
rating: -1
 
bflaff

"As a Phils fan, I can say with conviction that we are, as a whole, retarded."

What gives you this sense that other team's fans are less dumb? Surely not the radio, TV, internet, or newspapers.

Dec 17, 2009 14:28 PM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

I wasn't talking about other fans. I made no reference to other fans at all. You surely prove my point but you are one of us buddy. Put on your helmet and retain your lifelong seat on the wagon. I embrace you with open arms.

Dec 18, 2009 15:12 PM
rating: -1
 
harrybrandler

what if they did not sign polanco and instead got a good def but replacement level hitter for 3b and kept Lee that would be such a better use of the marginal dollar.

Dec 17, 2009 08:51 AM
rating: 2
 
Matt Kory

"a good def but replacement level hitter for 3b"

Hmmm... you mean like the one they just let walk?

Dec 17, 2009 10:46 AM
rating: 0
 
antoine6

The one they let walk had a $5.5 million option. Polanco is making 6 million. There's no cost savings available there that gets you to the 9 million needed to pay Cliff Lee.

Dec 17, 2009 12:07 PM
rating: 2
 
Matt Kory

Pedro Feliz just signed with Houston for 1 year at $4.5 million, which is more than I thought but less than you said.

Dec 17, 2009 14:29 PM
rating: -1
 
Bob1475

I agree that the main story is Halladay but I don't think you can ignore the difference in age between Halladay and the other contracts cited.
I think everyone made out well.
It constantly amazes me how cavalier we are with other people's money. Personally I doubt any of the large clubs are making money. I run a business and while you focus on payroll I think you are forgetting all the other expenses of this business like Clearwater, managers, coaches, travel, PR, ushers, GM, etc. Certainly they don't get it back in tickets - even assuming $35 avg ticket time 3.4 million they don't get to $140 million (which does not include benefits, taxes, travel, meals, etc).
Sure the Phillies get TV money and some share from MLB ventures but in the end I doubt they make much money.

Anyone who has to balance a budget knows there is an end point and for the Phillies it is $140 million. Deal with it. Otherwise why not sign all the top FA each year? There are limits and within those limits Amaro is doing well.

Dec 17, 2009 08:59 AM
rating: 0
 
fishtaco

If the Phillies truly aren't making money with a new stadium and a team that has won 2 straight pennants then they never will. In this case ownership should either sell the team or acknowledge that winning comes before profit and be willing to take a small loss by doing things like paying Lee for one more season. I don't know what the books look like but I have a very hard time believing they aren't making money.

As for Halladay leaving money on the table, Joe's premise may be a bit exaggerated but I think it speaks a lot to Halladay's character. He said he wants to win and do what's right for his family and he means it.

Dec 17, 2009 09:23 AM
rating: 0
 
mltepper

It is our money (at least those that live in Philadelphia/Pennsylvania) who paid for the stadium they play in and the tickets that go to games. The tickets aren't the only revenue either, there are luxury boxes, concession sales, t-shirts/jerseys and all that other stuff, advertising revenue and then TV money probably eclipses all of that. Joe pointed out somewhere that Philly is the largest 1 team market in the country (and if it isn't, it's darn close). I don't think you have any idea how much money the Philadelphia Phillies make and ownership is happy to exploit that.

Dec 17, 2009 11:32 AM
rating: 4
 
prs130

any entity that receives public money (state or federal) should be subject to a public audit.

Dec 17, 2009 11:40 AM
rating: 3
 
kradec
(175)

The Phillies play in one of the largest markets in the country, in one of the largest cities in the country, in a taxpayer-funded ballpark, and they just won two straight NL championships, one of which was a WS victory. The notion that they're losing money under those circumstances is ridiculous.

Dec 17, 2009 13:27 PM
rating: 2
 
dpratola

As current Blue Jays president Paul Beeston famously once said: “Under generally accepted accounting principles, I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss, and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me.”

So with no obligation to open their books to scrutiny, all claims by MLB teams to be losing money are highly suspect. Given the advantages pointed out by others in this thread that the Phillies currently enjoy, those claims rise from the "highly suspect" level to well beyond the "pure bullshit" threshold.

Dec 18, 2009 00:15 AM
rating: 3
 
ostrowj1

Halladay's free agency would have had a context much different than Sabathia's and (if he did not sign an extension) Santana's. It is possible that at this time next year both the Yankees and the Red Sox will be comfortable with their pitching situation and not looking to bring in a $100+ million contract. What would Halladay get if neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees were bidding?

Dec 17, 2009 09:22 AM
rating: 1
 
nsacpi

Some comparisons with Santana. Santana's first year with the Mets (and first year of his new contract), he was 28. Halladay's first year with the Phillies, he will be 33. The extension he is signing starts the year he will be 34.

The last three seasons, Halladay's total WARP1 is 16.6. During his last three seasons with the Twins, Santana's total WARP1 was 18.1.

Halladay will be paid 20 mil per year for three years. Santana signed for $22 mil per year for six years (23 mil if you add the option buyout).

Santana signed in early 2008, well before the full force of the economic crisis was clear. My guess is a player identical to Santana would get a bit less now than he did in early 2008.

The most important variable of course is expected future performance. Santana was coming off a three year period where his performance was half a win per season better than Halladay's most recent three performance. His contract began at age 28. Halladay's at age 34. I think it is reasonable to have projected in early 2008 a significant edge in performance going forward for Santana relative to the projection today of Halladay's performance starting in 2011.

Conclusion: Not so sure Halladay left much if any money on the table relative to Santana, taking into account age, performance, expected performance and changed economic circumstances.


Dec 17, 2009 09:41 AM
rating: 9
 
SamHughes

I think the age component of this is spot-on and explains why Halladay would have had a much harder time getting a six- or seven-year contract at Santana or Sabathia rates, though he could certainly have leveraged more money and another year or two from somebody.

Without going back and reading the fine print about WARP1, though, isn't it likely that Santana's slightly better WARP numbers could be attributed to the difference between the AL Central and the East?

Dec 17, 2009 10:36 AM
rating: 0
 
fishtaco

I'm not so sure Halladay couldn't have gotten a longer, more lucrative extension. Sure he is a lot older than Santana was but I'd put Halladay in the rare class of pitcher that will stay effective into his late thirties at least.

He has a huge but athletic frame, outstanding mechanics, is an absolute conditioning freak and top-notch in his mental preparation too. Even as his velocity declines he should maintain his top-notch command, movement, and pitch efficiency.

Like Clemens, Mussina, Johnson, or Shilling, Halladay still has a lot left in him at 33. I think he will easily outperform his extension and be in line for another rich contract in 2014.

Dec 17, 2009 10:53 AM
rating: 0
 
shamosgotit69

Joe (or anyone) do I infer correctly that it may have been possible for the Phillies to have BOTH Lee and Halladay because of Halladay's relatively cheap contract?


Am I missing something?

Dec 17, 2009 09:42 AM
rating: 2
 
ClubberLang

Not so much because of Halladay's relatively cheap extension, but because Halladay's extension didn't tear up this year's contract (at 15.75 million if I'm remembering correctly) AND becaue Lee's salary is 9 million this year, which is mind-bogglingly cheap if he put up the performance he did for the Phils last year after the trade.

Basically they traded away what conservatively is at least a three to four win advantage (plus the playoff advantage) in favor of 9 million and a few decent prospects. For a team at a championship level right now, one that could have made themselves the clear favorite for the title by not making the Lee deal, I think that's completely bats.

Dec 17, 2009 10:50 AM
rating: 1
 
John from Bel Air

You are not missing anything. From my reading of it, Joe is saying that the Phillies traded Lee for payrolls reasons that were more arbitrary than pressing.

Dec 17, 2009 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Brian Oakchunas

Joe, I don't quite get the love for Drabek. He only K'ed 7 per 9 in Double A and doesn't have an impressive groundball rate. Knowing that pitchers have an early peak and that strikeout rates tend to stabilize quickly, that doesn't look encouraging. Looking at his BP translations, he had a 5.1 K/9 rate, 3.3 BB/9, and 1.7 HR/9. Taking it a step further, his peak translations are 6.0, 2.6, and 1.1, basically making him what he seems to be in the minors, a pitch-to-contact type guy. Sometimes these guys bust out for sure, and I know scouts love him, but I don't see that he's putting much together yet.

Dec 17, 2009 10:01 AM
rating: 1
 
sockeye

I think people are filtering Drabek's body of work thus far. He had some first year character issues that led people to believe his stats lagged his ability (not unusual for a HS pitcher), and then had a post-TJ season last year. I don't think you can just translate last year's numbers at face value. Drabek's probably a guy where it's legit to give the scouting report a little more weight than usual.

Dec 17, 2009 10:08 AM
rating: 1
 
Brian Oakchunas

I didn't know he was post TJ. Doesn't really make me like him any more than I already did to know that, though. In fact it seems like another point against him.

Dec 17, 2009 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
ktr

I've always found those translations to woefully understate a player's ability and performance. What minor leaguer's translations can you look at and see a respectable big league stat line?

He was 21 in double A and has great stuff. Roy Halladay at age 21 pitched at 3A and had 5.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9. Not saying he's that guy or even a similar pitcher... but overvaluing minor league statistics is fraught with peril.

Dec 17, 2009 13:17 PM
rating: 1
 
Brian Oakchunas

Very true. Also, there have been a lot of great minor league pitcher's who became nothing. My point is more just that I don't think he's done much to justify praise or to be an important chip in a big trade at this point.

Dec 18, 2009 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
ktr

Are there any minor league pitchers who have done enough to justify praise and be major trade chips in your eyes? There are very few 21 year old SPs in 2A touching 96 w/ plus CBs that have control and are posting solid numbers. Those that are doing all that are gaining praise and are major trade chips.

Dec 18, 2009 16:28 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt

I can't believe the only way they could shed the payroll money was to trade your best starting pitcher. What a fail.

And I agree with Joe regarding Halladay's extension. A durable perennial CY candidate/winner gets more than 3 years, even at his age.

Dec 17, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Halladay left a signigicant chunk o' change on the table, just nothing the likes of what Joes contends. The New York teams had an obsession with Santana + CC, so overpaid accordingly. No one would've given that kind of money to Halladay, who at his more advanced age would've merited less in the first place.

Dec 17, 2009 10:53 AM
rating: -1
 
husier
(90)

One point I haven't heard made ... how much of this deal was a desire for the Phillies to get more right-handed in the starting rotation. Before the deal, it looked the Phils would have just one righty (Blanton) in their top five. Now they have two.

I don't think it was a major factor in the deal, because obviously Halladay was their target, but I have to think it merited some consideration.

I don't think Halladay would have gotten a Santana-Sabathia type of deal in length of years on the free agent market, especially because of his age. His extension with Philly, I feel, puts him pretty close to what he would have received.

In short, I don't think he left as much on the table as Joe thinks he does. Especially because we have no idea what might happen in 2010 (injury, downturn in performance, etc.).

Dec 17, 2009 11:46 AM
rating: 1
 
onegameref

I'm not a Phillies fan but I would be disappointed too with the series of transactions. Polanco for 3 yrs at those rates to play 3B? Gload? Schneider? They definitely could have kept Lee and received a few choice picks next year or resigned him. Do you think Atkins would have rather signed with Philly than Baltimore? Getting Halladay worked out great but ditching Lee not so much.

Dec 17, 2009 12:46 PM
rating: 0
 
jillsinmo

I was fairly certain that Cliff Lee had no interest in resigning with the Philles at the end of the year.

One thing I don't think anyone is mentioning is that hypothetically he would have had competition for the free agent market next year in the form of Lee if he didn't sign this extension. That may have driven his price down even further because of the presence of another big time pitcher who is slightly less valuable than he is on the market at the same time.

Everyone wins here, its not like they traded Lee away for peanuts, they got some legitimate guys with legitimate upside, and they've extended their window of contention another 3 years without going into a huge bidding war for a free agent Halladay or trying to resign Lee. As far as I know of the guys they got from Seattle they are much closer to the majors than they guys they gave away (except Drabek), which also gives them a lot of flexibility as that 3 year window is closing.

Dec 17, 2009 13:44 PM
rating: 1
 
ktr

Not really on the guys they got being closer to the bigs. Aumont and Drabek were both at 2A this year and both have some chance to pitch in the majors next year, though more likely in 2011. Taylor who they traded is essentially ML ready now, while D'Arnaud is a few years away at least. The two guys they got, Gillies and Ramirez were both in A ball this year and also at least a few years away.

Dec 17, 2009 14:58 PM
rating: 0
 
husier
(90)

I don't like the idea of Polanco at third base for the next three years, at his age and the likelihood of a declining bat. Factor in Ibanez's inevitable decline, and I'm not sure the Phillies are any better off than they were last year and in the near future. Lee's presence would have made a huge difference.

Dec 17, 2009 12:54 PM
rating: 0
 
funsucker

I think the only sensible answer is that Halladay hates Lee and wouldn't sign an extension if Lee wasn't traded. Its really the only thing that makes sense, even though its (almost certainly) completely untrue.

Dec 17, 2009 13:30 PM
rating: 1
 
yekkel

It's a shame that we're not going to get to see Lee and Halladay in the same rotation. Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Happ going one through four would be something to behold. I've got to imagine that this is really going to blow up in Amaro's face if they don't win it all next year.

Dec 17, 2009 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I don't know if the connection will get made, but the Phillies essentially chose $9 million cash instead of the performance difference between Lee and Jamie Moyer, which will almost certainly be more valuable than $9 million. It's risk aversion taken to a pathological level, and should the Phillies miss out on October baseball, it will likely be a significant part of the reason.

Dec 17, 2009 13:36 PM
 
antoine6

While I agree I would've spent the money, are you sure that performance is really worth that much to the Phillies? They're favorites to win the division regardless (at least they will be almost everywhere; I'm sure BP will find a way to favor the Braves). Considering the division and wildcard availability, they're most likely going to get some playoff revenue regardless. They already sell out every game.

I know the marginal value of each win peaks between 80 or 90. After 90, doesn't it actually start to diminish? And after you've reached the WS the last two years, winning one, and pretty much maxing out your attendance, tv, and merchandise revnue, wouldn't it make sense that there's not much more marginal value left?

The team won 93 games last year with Hamels and Lidge being awful and two months of Cliff Lee. A bounceback performance from those two and a full season of Halladay, and it's hard not to project them for 90+ wins again. Do people agree there's going to be some decline in marginal value of wins after that?

Dec 17, 2009 15:37 PM
rating: 1
 
mltepper

It isn't about the regular season, I think if the Phillies were in a holding pattern they'd be okay in the regular season.

However, remember that they weren't some super favorite in any of the postseason series last year, now replace a Lee, Hamels, Pedro Martinez, J.A. Happ/Blanton Rotation with Halladay, Lee, Hamels, J.A. Happ/Blanton rotation. I think if they brought that rotation up against the Yankees they'd probably be the favorites. Of course the post season is a crap shoot but if you think you are going to get there regardless why not try to put the best team out there to get the title.

Dec 17, 2009 19:46 PM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

It's $9 million cash *and* 3 upper level prospects vs. the performance difference between Cliff Lee and Jamie Moyer, isn't it? So it's not as much of a landslide loss.

Dec 17, 2009 15:47 PM
rating: 0
 
ClubberLang

$9 million cash, one upper level prospect, one solid lower-level prospect (Gillies) and one total wild card (Ramirez) vs. the performance difference between Cliff Lee and Jamie Moyer plus two draft picks.

Dec 17, 2009 16:10 PM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

Better.

Dec 17, 2009 17:02 PM
rating: 0
 
J Scott

Another Kyle Drabek skeptic here. Six feet tall, 185 pounds. TJ in his background. I don't see it. I asked once before at BP for the names of pitchers who had TJ prior to reaching the Majors who went on to have substantial careers AS STARTERS in the Majors. I got two names back, David Wells and Kenny Rogers. Both lefties; both physically much bigger men. Anyone have what they think is an optimistic comp for Drabek which takes the stature/TJ aspects into account? From here...I don't see it.

Dec 17, 2009 14:32 PM
rating: 0
 
ktr

Oswalt, though I don't think he had TJ. He just shocked the heck out of himself with electricity and it somehow cured his devastated arm. Totally weird story that doesn't get enough attention.

Dec 17, 2009 15:01 PM
rating: 0
 
ktr

Other SP who have had TJ prior to majors:
Nick Adenhart
Erik Bedard
Chris Capuano
Scott Feldman
Adam Eaton in 1st Year in majors
Josh Johnson and Matt Morris both very early in their careers
Mariano Rivera- obviously not a starter but he's held up pretty well I'd say

1)I'm not sure I understand the issue of when they get the TJ. What's the difference whether it's before they get there, or in their first or second year.
2)Additionally b/c of the advances in the surgery, it doesn't necessarily make sense to look to the past for comps.
3)Pitchers w/ TJ within the last 5 years are considered to be at lower risk of arm injury than those who have not had the surgery.
4)An interesting comparison will be Jarrod Parker of the D'Backs. Undersized RHP w plus stuff and armspeed, has had TJ. Both are big prospects-- will be interesting to see how they turn out.

Dec 17, 2009 15:24 PM
rating: 1
 
The Crawfish Boxes
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Begin their rebuilding process? When did the Blue Jays build anything?? Perpetually being in rebuilding mode...such is the plight of every small market team that continually trades veterans for prospects. I guess that's ok though. Better to do that, never give yourself a chance to compete, but have an ok farm system and make BPro heap praise upon you.

Dec 17, 2009 14:32 PM
rating: -5
 
LouisArighi

When you say "When did the Blue Jays building anything??" I will assume you mean this decade, and not ever (those back-to-back World Series seemed like "something" at the time). they have had a rough time this decade, but have been the best non-playoff team a couple of years, and often the best third place team. This year they were in first place until mid-summer. They play in a tough division, which makes their life more complicated, but they haven't been truly bad for quite a while.

Dec 17, 2009 15:19 PM
rating: 4
 
The Crawfish Boxes

Ultimately though, truly bad, average, "sorta good", bad...what's the difference. Either you put yourself in position to win, make the playoffs and win the crapshoot that is the MLB playoffs...or you don't. It's nice to praise the saber GMs, but their track records aren't that much better than non saber GMs.

Dec 21, 2009 15:17 PM
rating: 0
 
phuturephillies

I could write 4000 words on the deal (I actually did, but I won't write it again), but I think the one thing that seems to be eluding the grasp of most analysts is that the dropoff from Halladay to Lee is a bit sharper than most have mentioned.

Halladay's xFIP in 2009 was 3.07, compared to Lee's 3.65. That's not a small difference. Halladay posted an ERA+ of 155 in 2009, compared to 131 for Lee. Again, not a small difference. Lee did have a .321 BABIP, compared to .306 for Halladay, but for their careers both are right in the .299 range. Halladay is more of a groundball pitcher, and fits CBP better than Lee does. Not to mention Halladay's far superior track record.

I don't view this is a lateral move in 2010, the Phillies upgraded. Whether it would have been better to keep Lee is neither here nor there. Obviously they couldn't do it and feel comfortable with it. But Halladay is the superior pitcher.

Dec 17, 2009 17:31 PM
rating: 3
 
lurgee21

agree on the groundball issue -- Phillies pitchers got lit up at home last year after two seasons of adjusting the bandbox reputation.

Dec 17, 2009 18:25 PM
rating: 0
 
mltepper

Halladay may be a significant upgrade, however, it's not like the team really needs that in order to get into the playoffs, the question is what do you do when/if you get there. Halladay and Lee together give you a much better shot in the postseason compared to just having one. And in a postseason series it's not like having one of those specific pitchers over the other is going to clearly give you and edge(other than the luck of facing a specific right or left handed leaning lineup). In a few postseason games it just doesn't really matter which of the two you have. I'd say that Sabathia was a better pitcher than Lee but look who performed better in the World Series.

Dec 17, 2009 19:51 PM
rating: 0
 
TheRealNeal

So you're saying that it's better to have the best starting pitchers during the postseason, and then cite where the best starting pitcher didn't get you the wins in the postseason as your proof.

The best 1-2 punch in the 2009 post season was trotted out by the Cardinals. The best top three was probably also the Cardinals. How did that work out?

Dec 19, 2009 05:12 AM
rating: 0
 
phuturephillies

correction; 3.05 for Halladay, 3.69 for Lee. Close enough

Dec 17, 2009 17:33 PM
rating: 0
 
silviomossa

I didn't get to read all of these comments so it might have been said, but I did want to say that technically, Halladay didn't lose any guaranteed money, he added it. He had 9.5 mil guaranteed, now he has 69.5. Had he not approved this deal, who knows what would have happened in 2010? He could have pulled a Ben Sheets and lost a year to injury leading into an uncertain FA year, or any number of other things.

I'm not saying it's likely, but absent this deal, it's possible Halladay could have only added guaranteed money in November of 2010, and who knows what would've happened in the interim?

Dec 17, 2009 20:25 PM
rating: 2
 
amr2002

i think we should consider the possibility that the phillies, in fact, LIKE THE PROSPECTS they got from the mariners. they have as good a scouting team as any in the majors. they built this championship team almost entirely from within. (maybe it was mostly arbuckle, but i'll give them the benefit of the doubt.) they know the mariners system very well, and they just LIKE these guys. the vol around a prospect, even in AA is so large, that i think it's really hard to objectively say, oh that was a ridiculous package of prospects for a year of Lee. I'm not saying that all you guys aren't right (god knows i'm a huge believer in Prospectus) but at some point a team makes a decision about whether they like a prospect or not, and the phillies have a pretty good track record in this department. so maybe the question should be why they traded for these three guys, given that they aren't morons, which i'm willing to concede, although many of you may not be.

Dec 18, 2009 08:44 AM
rating: 1
 
bflaff

"i think we should consider the possibility that the phillies, in fact, LIKE THE PROSPECTS they got from the mariners."

Yes, particularly since the Phillies Assistant GM, Benny Looper, worked in the Mariners system until 2008. So he was pretty familiar with their talent. Todd Zolecki's MLB.com blog recently featured quick blurbs from Looper about each of the guys they got. If I can link, it's here: http://zozone.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/12/looper_talks_prospects.html.

Dec 18, 2009 23:05 PM
rating: 0
 
TheRealNeal
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Some simple math Joe neglected.

Halladay + torn rotater cuff in August of 2009 doesn't equal $60 million or $120 million in free agency.

Dec 18, 2009 20:04 PM
rating: -4
 
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