Friday, December 18, 2009

On Amaro and Halladay

this deserves its own post. ed's captured this in a much more articulate way than i have the time or (more importantly) the talent to produce. one of these days, maybe i'll be smart enough to learn that i need to give bumble the opportunity to vent rather than trying to counter his points. -- meanguy

from "ed wade"

My first reaction to this trade tandem was "egad, this could have been a team for the ages, wish the Phils would go for broke in 2010 with this once-in-a-lifetime core." My rationale was simple. If the Phils win the WS, particularly in a rematch with the Yankees (my 2nd favorite team), I'd be set for life. It wouldn't matter to me if they ever won another title. I love the game so much that I enjoy even the down years. I told Bumble privately that I'd let my son worry about the next championship while I enjoyed shorter lines at Tony Luke's.

A part of me still feels this way. With Halladay and Lee at the top of the rotation, this would have been the best squad since the late 1970's, and perhaps ever (it still might be).

I started to calm down when I learned that the Phils were receiving prospects and $6 million in the deal. Remember, when the first reports came out, the Phils were identified as the team giving prospect to both Toronto and Seattle. Under that scenario, the trade made little sense to me. I saw it as the Phils upgrading their ace while adding payroll and subtracting youth. Their current ace (Lee) wasn't as good as the new one (Halladay), but this didn't seem important as we already knew Lee could beat the Yankees (with a dynamite team behind him). Regardless of how good Halladay could be, he wasn't going to improve on a 4-0 post season.

The problem the Phils had last year was that no pitcher other than Lee was good enough to beat the Yankees. As such, keeping Lee in addition to adding Halladay was necessary to affect a genuine, practical improvement.

This may still be true. I don't have a lot of faith in Cole. This isn't based on the fact that I think he is a cupcake, a quitter, etc. Rather, it is based on the belief that guys who top out at 92 and have only two pitches can't be effective starters in the Bigs over the long haul, no matter how good the second pitch is.

The Phils have a different opinion about Cole. After listening to Amaro, it is obvious that the baseball people in the organization honestly believe he can rebound and reestablish himself as a premiere starter. Assuming this is correct, and with the knowledge that Cole is under the team's control for two more years, the decision to trade Lee makes a lot more sense.

With respect to the Phils being cheap, that's just plain silly. Their payroll will expand to the north side of $140 million. That puts them right there with the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets and Dodgers. I'm okay with that. Without a regional cable company like YES, they can't spend the way the #1 market Yankees do. They also can't compete against a team that charges $1500 for dugout seats instead of $60. God bless the Phillies for keeping ticket prices WAY under value. Check out what the other big markets charge for comparable tickets.

Amaro said with complete sincerity that trading Lee was a baseball decision based on the premise that his job is to make sure the team can compete for the championship EVERY year. I'd argue that the willingness to spend $140 million speaks to that commitment. Amaro: "If I can't field a team that can compete for the Championship with $140 million, I'm not doing a good job."

I love Amaro. I love his intelligence, candor, and creativity. If Amaro likes the prospects he received for Lee, I like them. I haven't seen them play, but I have watched Amaro operate. The organization is getting things done right. They’re drafting well and developing prospects that other teams covet. Big-time players want to play in Philadelphia.

Something that has gone unnoticed by many in the "all in" camp: Amaro explained that he needed prospects for two reasons. First, to eventually restock the big team with new, price-favorable young players in the upcoming years (call this cheap if you want, smart if you get it), and second, to have trade bait available in the event THIS team (2010) develops holes it needs to fill to win right now.

In other words, Amaro makes a credible argument that trading Lee may offer greater flexibility to go "all in" this year. What if Lidge gets hurt at the all-star break? What if Rollins breaks his leg? After trading 7 of the organization’s best 10 prospects over six months, Amaro makes a fair point. The lack of additional prospects may hand cuff THIS year's team. I admit, I had not thought enough about this point.

For me, the bottom line is this: We don't have Lee, but we have a better pitcher in Halladay. We have a better third baseman, a better bench, and ironically, a better future.

Does everyone understand how big a coup it was to get Halladay signed for ONLY three years at $60 million? His market value was closer to $150 million for 7 years. Make no mistake, he gave the Phils a big-time gift, and this signing was brilliant, probably Amaro's best moment as a GM. I love Cliff Lee, but if anyone thinks a guy who has made "only" $15 million in his pro career would sign the same deal, he is smoking seriously good weed. Lee clearly wanted to stay in Philly, but I doubt he would have signed such a favorable deal.

The more I think about these moves in tandem, the more see that the Phils hit a home run.

I'm not unhappy at all anymore, even though I wish we had Lee for another year, just like everybody else.

I can't wait for the season to begin. After the last 3-4 phenomenal years, the team is poised for its best year ever. Will they win the World Series? You never know. If the Phils are right and Hamels can be a good #2 starter, I like their chances. If Hamels pitches like last year, they aren't as likely to win the WS as they would have been with Cliff Lee. You never really know what's going to happen, but I'm pretty sure this is a damn good team, and a damn good organization, even without Cliff Lee.

Right now, I'm confident the Phils know what they are doing. I’m a fan, but the guys calling the shots are professionals.

The “Total Package” (Amaro) has made one major mistake as a GM. He followed his heart and gave Jamie Moyer a two-year deal that pays him $8 million this year. Ultimately, this hurts the team’s ability to land late inning relief help. Pray that Chan Ho comes to his senses and returns to the fold. I think Amaro learned something from this mistake. This time, he didn’t follow his heart or popular opinion. He made a bold move based on what his head told him was the smartest decision for the long-term success of the team. After listening to Amaro describe his rationale, I’m “all in” with the General Manager.

Enjoy what you have Philly, and stop worrying about what you don't.

Ed Wade



Anonymous Big Dog said...

great logic and points....I just hope you're right....I love this team, always have, always will....from the dark days of Kevin Gross to the bright lights of Citizen's Bank Park

10:45 AM EST  
Blogger David said...

Very eloquent and logical and chock full of good points, Ed. however, you your self have said time and time again that one needs two top flight pitchers to beat the Yankees. You must have them. Phils have one. Hamels is not better than a 3 and probably a 4 with his limited stuff and diva mentality. Not ever going to beat the evil empire with their current staff including Doc. if your aim is truly to beat the Yankees and enjoy that sensation for the rest of your sports viewing life (and I know how beautiful that event would be for you), then you cannot be anything but confused and frustrated that they threw away their chance to get the other horse to go after the Yankees. With this upgraded line up, Doc and Lee with Hamels at 3, hard to imagine them not getting it done, or at least being right there. I know, I know-injuries, slumps, random hot teams upsetting them. All realistic possibilities. However, this core is going to start breaking apart in 2010 as payroll sky rockets. This was the last year to go after it hard. No amount of Kool Aid and post WS euphoria is going to erase the fact that they were on the doorstep and should've went after it now. Maybe we just view sports differently, but my goal is championships and they pissed one away when they let Lee walk for value that at best is prospects. Sorry, no amount of loving Ruben erases the fact they they unplugged what would have been a ridiculously great team in 2010 and are now worse off than they were before. Doc is slightly better than Lee-maybe 2 games difference, but they still only have 4 pitchers and now no prospects in their system after trading away a ton for Lee and Doc. Why trade for Lee in the first place if you're so damned afraid of losing prospects, which 9 times out of 10 won't be superstars anyway?

I'm still furious with this move. It's not emotion, it's not thinking they're cheap, it's seeing why they did it but strongly disagreeing.


12:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, I'm not saying I would have traded Lee. Just that I understand why they did. I could have lived happily ever after if the Phils
went for broke this year.

I'm also saying I think the Phils are in good hands with Amaro.

Ed Wade

4:22 PM EST  
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Blogger Junaid said...

I'm still furious with this move. It's not emotion, it's not thinking they're cheap..

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