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Halladay/Lee Trades: Will Phillies 3-Peat to World Series?

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The Roy Halladay and cash for 3 prospects deal between the Phillies and the  Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cliff Lee for 3 prospects deal between the Phils and the Seattle Mariners (with the Mariners flipping a prospect each with the Oakland A’s) was actually two trades but historically, the huge 4 team deal will be seen as one and will rank high in the MLB all-time trade records.

A lot of ink has been spilled as to why the Phils foiled all of our dreams by trading lefthander Lee.  Our dreams of a Halladay, Lee top of the rotation all went for naught over an alleged ceiling on the Phils payroll budget and perceived need to replenish a Minor League system depleted by last season’s trade for Lee and the deal for Halladay.

Lee, whose short stint surely will go down in MLB annals having won his first 5 starts, completing 2 of them, going eight innings in a 3rd and seven innings each in the 2 others.  He struggled a bit in September, but then went undefeated in 5 post-season starts winning 4 of them, including a sensational 6 hit, 10 strikeout World Series opening win over the Yankees in the Bronx.  I can’t recall a pitcher in my 50-some years of baseball consciousness who accomplished what Lee accomplished in a mere 2 months of regular season and in the post-season.

It would have been a sight to behold; Halladay, Lee, a hopefully rejuvenated  Cole Hamels with Joe Blanton and lefthander J.A. Happ providing the balance of the starting rotation.   The prospect of Halladay joining Lee at the top may well have eased the pressure on the bullpen immensely allowing for flexibility regarding the set-up and closer spots.  Both Halladay and Lee are capable of complete games with every start.  Halladay’s got 49 CG in his 12 season career, 25 of them in the past 3 seasons alone.  Lee notched 10 CGs over his last 3 seasons, 13 for his career.

In looking at the respective careers of Halladay and Lee, Halladay looks on paper to be the superior pitcher.  But the Philies fates in 2010 ride to a large extent on whether Hamels recovers his 2008 magic, whether Happ can at least equal his rookie year performance, whether Blanton can continue to pitch effectively, whether Brad Lidge’s efforts in 2010 more closely resemble 2008 than 2009 and whether the Phils can add some further depth and efficiency to the bullpen.  If Hamels falters, the second-guessers will have a field-day ripping Amaro Jr. for trading away Cliff Lee.

We eagerly anticipate spring training and the 2010 season.  It’s great to be a Phillies fan and know that we’re not hoping futile hopes and pipe-dreams.  Checkout this Phillies Nation piece on Phillies fans’ perspective on the coming 2010 season — makes for enjoyable reading.

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