The defending two-time National League Champions sent shockwaves throughout baseball yesterday by closing in on a deal for the prize pitcher in baseball-Roy Halladay--but the question remains how much better are the Phils now than they were yesterday. The long-term effect on their payroll and the loss of Cliff Lee could become a steep price to pay for the Jays righthander.
If the Phillies were able to land Halladay AND keep Cliff Lee I think this deal could have made them nearly unbeatable but giving up Lee is no small issue here. It is hard to believe, as good as Halladay is, he could have pitched any better than Lee did down the stretch or in the playoffs last year. Now I fully understand that the Phils felt their ability to re-sign Lee after the 2010 season would have been a huge question mark as he seems determined to test the free-agent waters and so locking up an ace beyond 2010 is a sound strategy.
However, another thing to consider is the Phillies payroll as they have indicated that they would like to hold it firm at $140 million but this deal coupled with the Placido Polanco signing will likely put their committed dollars for 2010 at $128 Million. And that figure does not include arbitration numbers yet to be determined for Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Joe Blanton, and Chad Durbin. It also does not include allocations for the rest of the bullpen (minus Lidge and Madsen who are already signed) and the bench. That leads me to believe that Blanton will likely have to be moved as his arbitration figure should be at least $7 million. And this could hurt the depth of their starting rotation as Blanton, Lee, and Pedro Martinez would comprise 60% of their 2009 rotation and despite the addition of Halladay, 2 of those spots will need to be filled by somebody.
The bottom line here is the Phils did indeed improve their team as Halladay is a stud but only time will tell if the upgrade is worth dealing Lee, the #1 pitching prospect in the organization, and losing some depth in their starting rotation.
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