It wasn't so long ago that the thought of the Philadelphia Phillies landing one of the best players in baseball via free agency or trade was nothing more than a fantasy.
Philadelphians knew the club would never write a big enough check or part with a talented enough prospect package to get the deal done. Rumors were dismissed without further thought and pure speculation was considered grounds for commitment to the nearest psych ward.
Oh, how things change.
As baseball enters the 2009 All-Star break, the whispers of incredulity in the City of Brotherly Love over a potential trade for Roy Halladay have given way to a delightfully exciting hubbub. Will the Phillies actually pull the trigger? Should they?
For once, the possibility is definite and the probability is what is being debated.
The Phillies are generally considered to be the front-runners in the Halladay sweepstakes, not just because they need a starting pitcher, but because they actually have the prospects to acquire him.
Lefty J.A. Happ (already in the majors) and 2006 first-round pick Kyle Drabek are the most prominent names being tossed around, while other minor leaguers like catcher Lou Marson, shortstop Jason Donald, and outfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor are also considered potential future stars.
Jayson Werth, who was just named to the all-star team, may also be available, though I'm not sure of Toronto's interest.
With Philly's ability to land Halladay pretty much taken for granted, the conversation in Philadelphia has turned to the next logical question: "Is he worth it?"
Let's end that debate right now. Yes. He absolutely is.
The Phillies are fortunate enough to have a group of outstanding players all in the prime of their careers at the same time. Chase Utley is 30. Ryan Howard is 29. Jimmy Rollins is 30. Shane Victorino is 28. Jayson Werth is 30.
With aging veterans Raul Ibanez (37) and Pedro Feliz (34) having career years, it is clear that the Phillies must be in 100 percent "Win Now!" mode and the number one obstacle standing in their way has been their pitching.
The bullpen hasn't been as dominant as last season, but Philadelphia's starting pitching was, at last check, third-worst in the league.
The Phillies have been presented an opportunity to remedy their biggest problem with arguably the best player at that position in all of baseball. This should be a no-brainer, especially considering Halladay is already under contract for next year.
Now, obviously there has to be some negotiating. The Phillies can't simply hand over a blank check. My conditions for this trade would be:
- Toronto can have Happ or Drabek, but not both.
- Toronto can have Werth, but not in exchange for the bloated contracts of Vernon Wells or Alex Rios.
- Toronto can have Werth or Happ, but not both.
- Toronto can't have Victorino.
- Toronto can have some of our top prospects, but not ALL of them. Come on now.