The Facts on the Roy Halladay Trade and Contract Extension

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Anybody who has followed the Phillies’ pursuit of Roy Halladay over the past few days is quite aware of the complexity of the proposed trades to acquire him. Several teams are directly or indirectly involved, and it’s even been suggested that the full trade package be broken down into three separate two-team deals.

However, given the fact that each proposed trade is contingent on the one before it being accepted, the deal is perhaps best examined as a four-team deal, despite the fact that it is not officially so. Viewing the trade this way allows us to see the broader impact of the trade by connecting the dots in a more logical fashion.

However, it is important to remember that there are three separate trades being negotiated here: Phillies/Jays, Phillies/Mariners, and Blue Jays/Athletics. The first two of these are dependent on one another. The third trade would happen if and only if the first two do.

The Phillies have reportedly come to terms on a contract extension for Halladay, clearing the way for the first two pieces of the trade to take place. With that deal inked, it appears that the full trade package is very close to completion.

As it stands now, this is what multiple reports suggest the trade would look like:

Blue Jays Receive

C Travis d’Arnaud (from PHI)
P Kyle Drabek (from PHI)
3B Brett Wallace (from OAK)

Mariners Receive

P Cliff Lee (from PHI)*

Phillies Receive

P Roy Halladay (from TOR); sign Halladay to contract extension (see below)
P Phillippe Aumont (from SEA)
OF Tyson Gillies (from SEA)
P Juan Ramirez (from SEA)
$6 Million (from TOR)

Athletics Receive

OF Michael Taylor (from PHI via TOR)


Details of the Halladay Extension

Agreed upon; reportedly for three years and at least $60 million, with the very slight possibility of options for a fourth a fifth year.


*It is rumored that Lee may not be the only player headed to the Mariners.

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2009 World Series: Five Key Storylines

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Mr. Lidge & His Unstable Bridge

                If one was creating a children’s book with this title, perhaps the best cover picture would be the following:



Hilarious images created in MS Paint aside, Brad Lidge has been quite shaky over this year, and the course of his career as a whole. When Lidge came to Philadelphia, many questioned how he would handle adversity due to his fall from grace following his rough 2005 playoff experience.


Proving he could handle rough stretches was undoubtedly the most important thing that Lidge had to do in the 2008 season. Oddly enough, Lidge managed to put together an MVP-caliber championship season without answering this vital question.


This year, however, we have certainly seen Lidge face his fair share of adversity. He has become inconsistent and somewhat unreliable, and the rest of the Phillies’ bullpen has certainly followed suit. This year, what was known last year as the “Bridge to Lidge” now inspired nail-biting, hyperventilating, and head-shaking more than it did catchy nicknames.


The Phillies bullpen has been somewhat stronger in the playoffs than it was during the regular season, but they haven’t been performing at a level that inspires the sort of confidence that they earned last year.


As the Phillies enter the World Series, their hopes of winning are going to rely on one of two things—either the presence of an overpowering offense, or a reliable bullpen. The kinds of games that tend to hurt the Phillies the most are those that see their starters pitch a gem only to have the bullpen erase a strong effort.


This often isn’t an issue if the offense is producing a lot of runs, but the Phillies can’t really rely on blowing out a Yankees team featuring C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte. There’s a very good chance that the Phillies’ bullpen will find themselves in high-pressure situation at multiple points in this series, and they’re going to have to play like they did in the playoffs last year if they are going to win.


The bullpen made major slip-ups in Game Four of the NLDS and Game Two of the NLCS— both at critical junctures that could easily have shifted the series out of the Phillies’ favor. Given the fact that the Yankees are a powerhouse team that hits well in clutch situations, the Phillies can’t hope to win this series if their closer and setup men play at a level any lower than the level they performed at last year.



The Long Layoff vs. The Short Layoff


Last year, many experts cited the Phillies’ six-day layoff between the NLCS and World Series as a big problem for the Phillies, who would be facing a Rays team coming off a two-day layoff between the ALCS and the World Series. Some even went as far as to use that as a reason for picking the Rays.


The Phillies’ offense ended up hitting pretty badly in the early parts of the series, but the Phillies still won because their pitching was so strong. The Phillies’ success last year would suggest that they can play well after a long layoff, although it goes without saying their five-game victory over the Rays was remarkable given how badly the offense performed.


Like the Rays, the Yankees will be coming off a two-day layoff when they play in Game One. But the circumstances will be somewhat different for them. While both teams are starting their aces (Scott Kazmir for the 2008 Rays and C.C. Sabathia for the Yankees) on plenty of rest, the Yankees will have a lot more energy going into their World Series than the Rays did last year.


The Rays won the AL East and ALDS with surprisingly little effort, but they had a lot more trouble in the ALCS. After taking a 3-1 series lead, the Rays had loads of trouble eliminating the Red Sox and ended up barely winning the series. The Yankees, on the other hand, didn’t have to put the same amount of effort into winning a pennant, and because of that they will go into the World Series in a morefocused, energetic mode, and less of a celebratory, deflated mode.


The Rays suffered from what I like to call the “just happy to be there” syndrome, which causes Cinderella teams to fold after a massive upset. Nobody expected them to win the pennant, while the Phillies had their eye on a World Series title from the very start.


In this year’s World Series, expect the length of each team’s layoff to have a couple effects on this series. First of all, the Phillies’ layoff is too long for them to expect their recent hot streak to carry into the World Series. Ryan Howard is no longer on a streak, and all of the Phillies players will be long-removed from the NLCS.


The Yankees, on the other hand, didn’t win the ALCS all that long ago, so their recent performance will carry over a bit more. The likely result of this will be the Phillies come out of the gate a bit sluggish and, because of this, the Yankees will probably have the edge in Game One.


In that case, the question will be if the Phillies can get their act together quickly enough to earn a series split in New York, which would give them home-field advantage in the series and undoubtedly place them in the driver’s seat.



Is Yankee Stadium Really the Yankees’ Stadium?


The Yankees have played fantastically at home this season, and historically the team has tended to build teams that take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s shallow right-field dimensions. The new Yankee Stadium’s mysterious wind-tunnel effect has also made the park very friendly towards power-hitters in general, as fly balls tend to carry much more than they would elsewhere. That being said, the kind of team that does best at the new Yankee Stadium is a team that is lefty-heavy and swings for the fences.


Wait a minute…isn’t that the Phillies?


Bizarrely enough, the Phillies have fielded a team this year much more well-built to play in Yankee Stadium than the Yankees’ current team. Due to the power-friendly nature of their home field, Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have a team that loves to hit for power, which actually makes Yankee Stadium even more ideal for them.


While the Yankees also hit a lot of long-balls, the Phillies do happen to be more lefty-heavy than the Yankees. It’s certainly an advantage when you consider the walls at Yankee Stadium are a bit deeper in right field than they are in left.


This bizarre reality would suggest that the Phillies are even better built for Yankee Stadium then the Yankees are. When you combine that notion with the Phillies’ MLB-best road record (48-33 in the regular season, 3-1 in the playoffs), the magnitude of the Yankees’ home-field advantage seems a bit more obsolete than their 57-24 regular-season home record and 5-0 playoff home record would suggest.


This isn’t to say that the Yankees are at a disadvantage at home, but given the structure of the series (see “2-3-2”), this situation could shift the series in the Phillies’ favor.





The 2-3-2 format for a seven-game series (meaning that one team plays games one, two, six, and seven at home, while the other hosts games three through five) used by the MLB instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 format has the effect of giving the team without home-field advantage a different sort of advantage.


In an “ideal” series—one that sees the home team win every game—the team with home-field advantage would actually trail the series after Game Five. In a 2-2-1-1-1 format, the team with home-field advantage would never trail at any point in an “ideal” series. Some consider this situation as unfair toward teams with home-field advantage, while others see it as a way of making a series more fair and competitive.


Both the Phillies and Yankees have had experience with the quirks of the 2-3-2 format. In 2001, the Yankees played in an “ideal” series, as the team didn’t have home-field advantage, resulting in them falling behind 0-2, going ahead 3-2, then losing the series in Game 7.


The Phillies took full advantage of the 2-3-2 format last year, winning one game in Tampa Bay (as the Rays had home-field advantage) before winning all three games at home. This allowed them to take the series in five games, despite winning only one road game.


In this series, the 2-3-2 format makes home-field advantage seem obsolete—including both the Yankees’ initial home-field advantage and the potential home-field advantage the Yankees or Phillies could win at some point with a win on the road.


It would be obsolete for the Phillies because they would only gain home-field advantage if they win one or two games at Yankee Stadium. Holding onto that advantage would require them to win all three home games at home if they earned a split, or would require them to win two out of three at home in the very unlikely event that they won both Games One and Two in New York.


For the Yankees, home-field advantage wouldn’t be a good thing to cling to. Even if they maintain it, the Phillies could still gain a 3-2 lead in the series—putting the Yankees in a rough spot.


Historically, the 2-3-2 format tends to be much kinder to teams that don’t have home-field advantage than the 2-2-1-1-1 format is—but it is much less forgiving to teams that drop both Games One and Two on the road.


Two examples come to mind. In the 2001 World Series, which followed a 2-3-2 format, the Yankees dropped Games One and Two on the road to the Diamondbacks. The Yankees went on to pull off a miraculous sweep of the three games in New York, yet still lost the series in seven games.


We saw the opposite example in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, a 2-2-1-1-1 series in which the Detroit Red Wings went up 2-0 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins fought hard and won Games Three and Four, but got steamrolled in Game Five. Nevertheless, they won Game Six at home and shocked the Red Wings in Game Seven.


The moral of the story is that trailing 2-0 in a 2-3-2 format means, in order to win, you essentially face three consecutive must-wins at home. Even if you will all three of those games, you have to win either Game Six or Seven on the road after that exhausting effort.


In a 2-2-1-1-1 format, a team down 2-0—like the Penguins—can win Games Three and Four at home, have an off-day and drop Game Five on the road, then come roaring back in Game Six and use that momentum going into Game Seven. The Phillies, on the other hand, would have to win three games in three days at home in order to give themselves a realistic chance in the series. That would be extremely exhausting and might use up all of their energy, as it seemed to do to the Yankees in 2001.


That being the case, the 2-3-2 format can be a huge plus to the Phillies, so long as they earn a series split in New York. If they do so, the Yankees suddenly have to take one of the games in Philadelphia to force the series back to the Bronx, and they’d have to take two of three to be in the driver’s seat.


This isn’t to say that the Yankees have to win both games at home; their chances are still good if they do so. What the Yankees need to do is avoid letting the Phillies use the three straight home games to take control of the series, as they did against the Rays.


The best way they can do that is to avoid trailing the series at any point. Their starters will tire as the series moves along in the likely event they use a three-man rotation (see “Three vs. Four Man Rotation”), and because the Phillies are very dangerous when they have momentum.



Three-Man vs. Four-Man Rotation


During the 2008 season, those involved with the Yankees universe began to realize that their core of older, declining players wasn’t going to win them a championship anytime soon. Many experts believed scouting was the answer, but the Yankees were determined to win sooner rather than later.


They wanted to win soon, not in ten years. That being the case, they added three huge free agents to their team, two of which were ace-caliber pitchers- C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.


Both Sabathia and Burnett are highly skilled pitchers, but they are only two starters in the Yankees rotation. They are supplanted by the also-capable Andy Pettitte, but after that things become a bit cloudier. The Yankees have used Chad Gaudin sparingly in case he would be needed as a fourth starter in the World Series, but when push comes to shove, it seems unlikely that the Yankees would use Gaudin in Game Four unless they had a comfortable lead in the series.


That being the case, if this series becomes a big challenge for the Yankees, they might want to have their best arms on the field at all times. However, that means that their starters would be pitching on short rest from Game Four on.


While that might be something that hasn’t hurt C.C. Sabathia, it would probably hinder Burnett or Pettitte’s performance. I wouldn’t read too much into the Phillies “solving” C.C. Sabathia in Game Two of the NLDS last year. In reality, they won that game in one inning, which hardly qualifies as “solving” a pitcher, and certainly doesn’t mean that Sabathia can’t pitch on short rest.


On the other hand, it is undeniable that the Phillies are going to have an easier time making a strong rotation for this World Series (a seven-game series that has no off-days other than travel days), because they can put a strong fourth starter on the mound in Game Four, giving them a good chance of victory and a rested rotation in Games Four through Seven.


Some would argue that the ability to use C.C. Sabathia in a possible Game Seven would make the Yankees’ three-man rotation advantageous. However, even if the Yankees are able to reach that point, a matchup between a somewhat-fatigued C.C. Sabathia (pitching on short rest for the second straight time) and a fully-rested Cole Hamels wouldn’t be overwhelmingly favorable for the Yankees.



Final Thoughts


Throughout this entire season, I have maintained that the World Series would see the Yankees prevail over the Phillies. I am a huge Phillies fan, but I never let my allegiances dictate my predictions. Last year, I had expected the World Series to be Red Sox over Phillies, but I changed my prediction to indicate a Phillies victory after the Rays beat out the Sox for the AL pennant. I stick by my predictions unless I see a compelling reason to do so.


I usually go with my gut when I make a prediction—and when I don’t I often suffer from the miscue. In this case, my gut has constantly told me that the Yankees are destined to reclaim their spot atop baseball. However, every time I match these teams up (as I have done here) and play out the series in my head and on paper, the Phillies end up prevailing.


You might scoff and say, “Well, that’s because you’re a Phillies fan who is just excited and afraid to lose,” you’d be right—but that’s not why I’m getting these results.


Rather, it is because I have seen the Phillies do things in these playoffs that have defied my conception of them. They have played clutch baseball in situations they once would have flopped in. They have played consistently in all aspects in the game—something they struggled with many times in the past, including during last year’s championship run.


Most importantly, they have played like champions, failing to disappoint Philadelphia fans when we expect them to. I have seen plenty of top-ranked Philadelphia teams flop over the years, but this team has failed to do that. They have earned the respect of the baseball world, but haven’t acted presumptuously. I know this team all too well, and I can confidently tell you that they are not the team they used to be.


As for the Yankees, I think they are a better team overall than the Phillies. They aren’t overwhelmingly better, but they are a bit stronger of a baseball team. However, as this article has revealed, they don’t match up well against the Phillies.


The Phillies pose a challenge to the Yankees that the Yankees have not faced yet this season. They have players with World Series experience throughout their roster, and they know what it takes to win. This Yankees team is the first step towards a new dynasty, but the Phillies are already in their glory years and are now on the verge of becoming a dynasty.


I have a multitude of respect for this Yankees team, but they’re a patchwork of old and new that hasn’t come together the way the Phillies have. To make a long story short, the Yankees may have a tangible advantage in this series, but it is clear that the Phillies have an intangible advantage going for them that will be tough to overcome. A


dd that to the way these two teams match up head-to-head, and it looks like the powerful Yankees aren’t the clear favorite in this series.


This series will undoubtedly go a long way in deciding whether or not the Phillies’ current team will become a dynasty, as well as in determining whether or not the Yankees are once again the kings of baseball. This much is clear—this World Series has more on the line than any series has had before.


Both organizations need this victory so badly, and because of this, many expect it to be a classic. I’m not going to pretend I’m completely convinced that my prediction will be right..but in the end, I think the Phillies’ intangibles—including their experience, team-play, and seasoned manager—as well as the structure of the series and the way the two teams match up will give the Phillies the victory in six games.


Predictions often call for longer series when the teams are closely matched, but I think the Phillies will go into Game 6 up 3-2, and will earn the road victory. Unless the Yankees either take a 2-0 series lead or gain a 3-2 lead in the series, I’m going to stick with that prediction


Phillies in 6

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MLB Playoff Predictions

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

National League Division Series



Cardinals vs. Dodgers


When the Dodgers got off to a blazing start earlier this season, I was very skeptical of how good they really were. I didn’t think that their ridiculously good record meant that they were suddenly the favorite to win the pennant, and I didn’t expect their luck to last.


I ended up being right on the latter notion, and I think I’m going to end up being right on the first. One could argue that the Dodgers are the better of these two teams, but the three—and four—man starting pitching rotations used in the playoffs undoubtedly give the Cardinals the edge here. Even with home field advantage, the Dodgers are going to be doomed in this series because of the Cardinals’ highly superior three-man rotation.


Very few teams, if any, would be able to beat St. Louis in a five game series, simply because of their incredible three-man rotation. The Dodgers might get one win out of this series, but I doubt they’ll get more. Cardinals in four.


Phillies vs. Rockies


This series is perhaps the most intriguing of the Division Series matchups, because it pits the past two National League pennant winners against each other, and it also just so happens to be a rematch of a 2007 NLDS matchup.


My gut has been giving me a bad feeling about this series, and I’ve been trying to determine why. The best answer I can come up with is that, as a Phillies fan, I’m afraid that a loss to the Rockies could create a bad bell-curve like trend for the Phillies’ success. Such a curve would start to peak with a loss to the Rockies, leading up to the Phillies’ World Series win, and then begins to plummet with another loss to the Rockies.


Beyond that worry, I can’t think of any other valid reason why the Rockies should be favored in this series. In 2007, I picked the Rockies to beat my Phillies in the NLDS. This time, the Rockies aren’t in the midst of a ridiculous hot streak, and their pitching is a whole lot weaker. The Phillies, on the other hand, have a lot of experience and success under their belt, and have a pitching staff that is a whole lot stronger. Think of it this way—Ublado Jimenez, who was third in the Rockies rotation for the 2007 series, is now the Rockies ace, with Aaron Cook, who didn’t even make it onto the Rockies NLDS rotation that year, is their number two.


The Phillies, meanwhile, will have Cole Hamels in their rotation, while their other two starters from that series—Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer—can’t even make the Phillies five-man rotation these days, due to the Phillies much-improved starting rotation. This change could be dismissed as irrelevant because two years have passed, but to do so would be to ignore a clear change in how these two teams match up.


The Phillies will untie that knot in my stomach, and get their revenge on the Rockies (even though they claim that they aren’t worried about doing so). Phillies in four.



American League Division Series


Red Sox vs. Angels


I hate reverting to simplicity, but when things don’t change, history tends to repeat itself. I see little reason to go with the Angels here after the Red Sox recent dominance over them in the playoffs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the American League, but I think it’s pretty clear that the Angels haven’t been getting the playoff tune-up they need from playing in a relatively uncompetitive AL West division, while the Red Sox are used to playing big games by the time they get to October. Red Sox in four.



Yankees vs. Twins/Tigers


I think that the fact that I’m not even waiting for the one-game playoff to be completed shows how highly I think of the Yankees this year—or perhaps how little I think of the AL Central. We’ve known since before opening day that the Yankees playoff rotation was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Their pitching, combined with their offense, home-field advantage, and the fatigue of the winner of the one-game playoff will carry the Yankees to an easy victory. Yankees in three.




National League Championship Series


Cardinals vs. Phillies


After we saw the last two NL pennant winners face off in the NLDS, we now see the last two NL World Series champions face off. These two teams create an incredibly interesting matchup in so many ways. We get to see two legends-in-the-making at first base—Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols—face off in the playoffs for the first time, after each just beat out the other once over the past three years to win the NL MVP award.


Both these teams have very strong playoff pitching rotations, which means that the series will likely come down to whether or not each team’s starters bring their A-game, and whether or not the relief pitching for both of these teams comes through in the clutch.


Close games mean close finishes, and that could spell trouble for the Phillies. However, this is the playoffs, and experience is of the utmost importance. As ineffective as the Phillies’ bullpen has been this season, the fact that almost their entire bullpen has a good amount of playoff experience can’t be ignored. That alone could balance out the bullpen issue in this series.


I want to call this one too close to call, but obviously I can’t do that. I don’t always predict that a close matchup like this is going to go seven games, because often times even a close series can be decided in five or six games. However, I honestly think that the Phillies home-field advantage is going to turn the tide in this NCLS, and because of that, I’m actually going to say this one is going seven, with the Phillies winning a second consecutive pennant. Phillies in seven.



American League Championship Series


Red Sox vs. Yankees


I’m going to point out one of my biggest flaws in predicting about baseball’s playoffs—I always pick the Red Sox and Yankees to face off the ALCS, no matter what point it is in the season, so long as it is a legitimate possibility. This year, however, I am very, very confident that it will happen. On the same note, I’ve also picked the Yankees to win the World Series many times, and have been wrong many times—but again, I am confident that this year is different.


The Yankees organization is dying to get back on top, and that includes exacting revenge on the Red Sox for the 2004 ALCS. Poetic justice aside, the Yankees are simply too much of a powerhouse this year for me to pick them to lose against their archrivals.


The first half of these two teams’ season series was undoubtedly dominated by the Sox, while the second half was clearly dominated by the Yankees (which is interestingly enough the opposite trend of the 2004 ALCS). Even though the playoffs are a whole different creature than the regular season, it’s still pretty clear that the Yankees, now back on top in the division, back on top in the rivalry, and back in the ALCS, will have the edge in this series. Yankees in six.



World Series


Phillies vs. Yankees


Once again, I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about the Phillies’ chances- and I know exactly why. As I discussed before, the Yankees are determined to get back on top, and who better to do it against than the champions from the year before, the Phillies.


Their loss to the Phillies in a three-game interleague series this year will only further kindle the fire burning in the Yankees to win. Yankee Stadium will be a crazy place when this series starts, and I expect the Phillies to falter facing a crowd like the one that I expect to fill Yankee Stadium for the Fall Classic.


I see the Phillies dropping the first two games of this series, and despite a good effort at home, they won’t be able to recover. Unless the Phillies win all three of their home games in this series, I don’t think they’ll be able to recover from a 2-0 deficit. I always hate to predict against my own teams, but I’m never afraid to do it because I want to be believed when I predict my teams to win. That being said, a repeat doesn’t look likely for the Phillies. Yankees in six.


Predicted World Series Winner: Yankees

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