Sunday, September 29, 2013

Phillies 2014 Preview: How to Handle Halladay

By: Chris Creighton

Have we seen the last of
Roy Halladay?

Courtesy of SBNation
Uncertainty. It's an extremely ominous word among Philadelphia baseball fans because throughout the Phillies organization, there seems to be plenty of it. Sounding the word out syllabically slow brings about an uncomfortable feeling flooding through my brain and because its plague-like presence is felt when pondering the Phillies future, the reality sets in that it may be a few years before this team can rise to an elite level once again. The starting staff, the bullpen, the first baseman, the closer, and the outfield are all enormous question marks as the 2013 season comes to a close today.

No other player personifies the same feeling in all of baseball than Roy Halladay. Just two seasons removed from a National League Cy Young runner-up season in 2011, injuries and age have taken the once streamlined, cyborgian Halladay to the bottom of the scrap heap.

What's even more depressing is that our boy Roy still believes that the perennial All-Star power pitcher he was yesterday can transform his plummeting velocity and 5.2 walks per nine innings into a new career at age 36 as a location pitcher simply by name-dropping Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer. What he fails to realize is that these two pitchers established their pinpoint, low-to-mid 80's fastball style early in their careers and not after major shoulder surgery in their twilight years.

While the surgery has given Doc confidence in knowing that he's pitching again out of the same arm slot which brought him so much success, it's the clear-cut lack of confidence in his waning fastball velocity and erratic control that leaves us all wondering just what the Phillies will do with the aging veteran as he approaches free agency this Winter with no proof he can be an effective MLB pitcher.

Roy Halladay: Two-seam Fastball Velocity
(click to enlarge)

Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will embark upon his most difficult off-season journey in his executive career after the final pitch is thrown in today's season-ending matinee in Atlanta. Without even yet having a sit-down, I'm sure both he and Halladay are well aware that the embattled pitcher won't ever walk near the neighborhood of a $20 million dollar contract again and quite possibly not even registering double-digits in the millionaire's column.

This, of course, is assuming Amaro is even around after the Citizens Bank Park clubhouse lockers have been cleaned out in the coming days as I previously penned here. A guy can dream, right?

With so much uncertainty throughout the lineup, the bullpen and to a lesser extent, the outfield, it would behoove Amaro to hedge his bets on Halladay and let the pitcher walk. Amaro's frequent failures in gambling on aging stars and sentimental fan favorites over the past few years has flown the organization into a tailspin. There are more pressing needs for this team and at the top of his priority list will be re-signing catcher Carlos Ruiz, improving the bullpen, finding a number three starter to pitch between Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick and either signing a power right-handed bat behind Domonic Brown or the 100% commitment towards developing Darin Ruf for the role. Noticeably missing from this list is what would be the Roy Halladay experiment, but this city has simply seen enough rolls of the dice on a player's glory days.

Roy Halladay's Phillies Career

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/29/2013.

Doctober: 2010 NLDS No-Hitter
Courtesy of
Roy Halladay has always maintained he came to Philadelphia to win--and win he did, just not in the way he had hoped. But this Phillies team is far from being a contender and certainly won't be able to fulfill his dream of winning a World Series here, especially with his stuff on steep decline.

Ultimately, we pain for athletes like Halladay with all of the incredible memories and excitement he brought to this city. The perfect game, the NLDS no-hitter, the two seasons of dominance on the mound. Phillies fans would have loved to have seen him sitting atop a Budweiser Clydesdale-driven wagon much like we'd have screamed for joy to see Ron Hextall sipping from Lord Stanley's Cup. Athletes who are the epitome of what it means to be a teammate, willing to trade all of their individual awards and accolades for the champagne taste of a World Championship. But the reality is that it was not meant to be; not for Roy Halladay in Philadelphia.