Do me a favor: Read this and this. Those are two of the best things I've read about the Phillies and Roy Halladay.
This is a plea to Ruben Amaro Jr. Go get Roy Halladay. Just do it. Listen, I understand the hesitation in giving up both Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ. Drabek is your No. 1 pitching prospect, a guy who's storming through the minor leagues and a guy who has the pedigree on his side. Happ is a 6'6" lefty who currently sits at 7-1 this season with a sub-3.00 ERA — the best numbers of any Phillies starter. I get that.
But let's be reasonable here, Ruben. A year ago, Carlos Carrasco was supposedly the next great Phillies pitcher, the untouchable. Now the Phils can't give him away, just one season later. That is to say, Kyle Drabek looks like a future star, but who knows what he'll look like next year? The answer: Your guess is as good as mine.
J.A. Happ, meanwhile, was a late-season call-up in 2008 and performed extremely well. He has done nothing but improve on that performance in 2009. But Happ is still more unknown than you think. For starters, he was sort of like Kyle Kendrick from two years ago. The Phils called him up with little expectations and no real buzz surrounding him. He did a fine job in spot duty and relief, competed for a starting spot this season and ultimately earned it a few months in.
Happ has been really, really good. A true revelation. But he hasn't exactly performed against any world beaters so far. He's beaten bad teams. When he finally faced a good team, Friday against the Cards, he didn't look so hot. Yes, it was a bad matchup with St. Louis's righthand-heavy lineup, but he picked up his first loss and didn't look good doing it.
And what some fans seem to fail to realize is Happ has yet to be seen a second time by a team. The first go-round, the pitcher always has the advantage. Opposing hitters don't know what the guy has, how his pitches look, what his delivery is coming at them in the box. The second time around, it's not so easy for the pitcher. Batters know what's coming, how it's coming and can adjust. Happ has been good, seems to have excellent control, but his 88-92 fastball may not sneak up on guys so easily the second time around.
That is all to say, basically, Happ and Drabek are not Roy Halladay, a known commodity. And it's not just the fact that Halladay is a known commodity. Those are easy to come by. We all know what a handful of veterans are. But Halladay isn't your average, run-of-the-mill available starter. He is a Cy Young winner. An all-star. One of the greatest pitchers to ever walk the face of the earth. He can give you 7, 8, 9 innings every time out. EVERY time out. Not sometimes. Every damn time. That weary Phillies bullpen sure would like that.
The thing is, as Jayson Stark pointed out, the Phils are leery to give up a pair of pitchers who could potentially be very, very good. But as he states, neither will ever be as good as Roy Halladay. At least, the chances of that are razor thin. Halladay is a once-in-a-generation workhorse. The type of pitcher that really doesn't seem to exist anymore. He would not just make the rotation better; he'd make the bullpen better, resting their arms. He'd make the team better. Even if it means trading away Happ and Drabek.
The future is now for the Phillies. Three, four, five years from now, when Kyle Drabek is in the majors, the Phillies will be drastically different. There's no telling if they'll be contenders in that time, whether they gut the farm system or not. But today, there's no question the Phillies have a chance to repeat. Bring in Halladay, and those chances multiply greatly. Keep him in the fold and you have a core that can win for two, three years. World Series are hard to come by. If you have a real chance to put yourself in position to compete for one, you have to do it.
Now, I'm not saying that Ruben should go in there and tell the Blue Jays: "Whatever you want." Try to keep Happ or Drabek. But when push comes to shove, when the deadline is here, if you have to give them both up to make this happen, well, shit, give them both up. It makes your team better, and isn't that the bottom line?
In five years, maybe Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ are all-star pitchers. Maybe they aren't. But one thing is for certain: Right now, today, Roy Halladay is better — vastly better — than J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek combined. He give the Phillies a better shot at winning the World Series. He completes a team that is ready to win now.
Roy Halladay is the missing piece. Do whatever it takes to get him.