Doctor Peppered

Honestly, I miss Roy Halladay.

There comes a point in every injured player’s recovery period where some fans sort of forget that they’re not around. It’s almost like you’ve become used to their absence, and the phantom limb feeling you get in the time immediately following their disappearance from the roster dissipates.

It’s a bit more layered than just that, though. I miss the Halladay of old, of pre-injury shoulder strength and command; a domineering, towering mound overlord, a regent of the rubber whose very presence demanded the respect of the opposition before he undressed a single batter.

The truth of the matter is, though, that that Halladay is gone. “Doc” is thought of less as a reference to surgically precise pitches and more about the operating table with which Roy has become all too familiar lately. And it’s a sad thought, because anytime a player who stands above his or her contemporaries for such an extended period of time begins to decline, it triggers fond memories of the past and the bittersweet yearning for their impossible return.

There was hope that, once Halladay’s shoulder underwent its most recent tidying, the aging wonder would resemble something more along the lines of his superlative 2010 and 2011. The reasonable hope was never that he’d replicate those years, but that he’d do his best to imitate them and make us all forget about 2012 and the first half of this season.

But, well…

twitter.com/longenhagen/status/369983631562780674

That renaissance just doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps things will improve with another rehab start, but at this point, the improvement to hope for just seems to be one that moves Doc from “batting practice tosser” to “hopefully better than John Lannan.” Some radar gun readings, according to reports, had him looking more like Tyler Cloyd, and while that’s not awful, it’s unenviable.

Prior to this season, I held the belief that, if anyone could adapt and learn to pitch with diminished velocity, Halladay would be The Guy. Off-the-charts pitchability and stuff with enough movement to compensate for lack of zip seemed almost like a no-brainer, and I figured that Doc was still likely to find a way to post a sub-4.00 ERA even as his peripherals would begin to slip. Now, though, I’m not so sure this injury of his will allow him to regain most of the command of and movement on his pitches that would enable him to compensate.

And that’s part of the reason why Halladay shouldn’t be back with the Phillies in 2014.

It’s long been a foregone conclusion that Halladay’s $20 million option for 2014 will not be vesting, and the pitcher will become a free agent at season’s end. For some team, he could be an excellent buy-low addition, a player who would almost certainly have to accept an incentive-laden deal and stay healthy to earn most of it. And make no mistake: the man will try his damnedest to prove that he is healthy and can be effective again. His competitive nature and drive will never, ever be questioned.

But Philadelphia shouldn’t be the place to have that comeback happen. The Phillies, bogged down by massive deals on a team filled with well-publicized underachievement, actually has a chance to start something of a transition to a younger roster next season. Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone and Cloyd are under contract for 2014. Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan have their final arbitration years. Ethan Martin remains a rotation possibility, and with Jesse Biddle‘s hopeful ascendance in late ’14 plus Adam Morgan‘s hopeful recovery, internal options appear to be emerging at a quicker rate than they seemed to last year. That leaves off recent promotions like Cody Asche and a young outfield with Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. That’s not to say that’s a thoroughly impressive crop of starting pitchers, but for a team that’s probably not looking at a vastly improved 2014 – no matter what Ruben Amaro tells you is the goal – the more distant future could be more important.

I wouldn’t call retaining Halladay “foolhardy,” because in some ways the move could make sense for the Phillies. If the guaranteed money is palatable and Halladay’s cool with the incentives package offered, you could do far worse with a reclamation project than a two-time Cy Young Award winner with near-Hall-of-Fame-worthy credentials. But for the sake of the club’s present and future, moving on – both tangibly and spiritually – is the best way to go. It doesn’t mean it won’t sting, but the quicker this organization begins to give up the ghost, the better it (and we) will eventually be off.

Besides, if absolutely nothing else, Doc deserves a better shot at going out a winner than this club will provide.

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21 comments

  1. bubba0101

    August 22, 2013 12:09 PM

    Id like to have him around to teach the youngins how to throw cutters for the next two years. Money obviously doesnt matter, especially when it goes to old guys who are declinging. Sign him for a two year deal and transition him into pitching coach immediately after that.

  2. Phillie697

    August 22, 2013 12:20 PM

    He came for the promise of a WS title, and I can only say that I am so sorry we let him down.

    Heck, if he DID win one with us, what cap will he wear when he is inducted into the HoF? We will never know now.

    On a different note, Paul, why do you think a pitcher with career 67.8 fWAR and 65.5 bWAR as only “near-Hall-of-Fame-worthy credentials”?

  3. bubba0101

    August 22, 2013 12:29 PM

    697,

    I agree wholeheartedly. He should be a first ballot HoF’r. Rings arent considered in HoF credentials.

  4. joecatz

    August 22, 2013 12:44 PM

    Whether they sign him or not is debateable, but I’m a little confused as to why, after two rehab starts less than three months after cuff surgery people expect him to be anywhere close to normal velocity.

    I’m not saying he’ll get there, but its way too early in the process for people to be throwing out statements as if they’re fact.

    The important parts are that he apparently got full range of motion, and he’s been able to go back to back on normal rest at 80 pitches plus so soon.

    If april comes and hes still throwing 86ish then thats an issue. an its debateable as to whether the Phillies are a fit for him, and whether hes a fit for the Phillies.

    But has anyone come out and said, or asked Halladay if hes THROWING at 100% yet? because typically thats not what happens this soon.

    he’s not ready for a major league mound, but that doesn;t mean he’s not going to get there.

  5. John

    August 22, 2013 01:55 PM

    Is that “40 cutter” rated on a scale from 1-100?

  6. John

    August 22, 2013 02:02 PM

    Unfortunately, the calendar is inching toward September, and then October, and the data from the last year and a half shows Halladay is what he is, and that 5, 10, 15 more starts this year isn’t going to make his fastball any faster or his pinpoint control any more accurate. The Phils will need to make a decision on Halladay without the benefit of a large post-surgery sample size, and I agree with Paul. There are too many young pitchers that need mound time for this team to waste it on a once-great starter who quite literally, “lost his fastball.”

  7. Pencilfish

    August 22, 2013 02:13 PM

    Discarding Halladay after 2 minor-league starts would be incredibly premature and ill-advised. To expect him to be vintage 2010 Halladay 3 months after surgery is beyond unrealistic. Are you suggesting RAJ end his comeback attempt and release him?

    A more rational approach is let him pitch on Sunday in AA and see where he is. Give him as much reps as needed until the end of the season and let’s see if movement, command and/or velocity come back.

  8. Larry

    August 22, 2013 03:39 PM

    Doc needs more rehab starts. I didn’t expect Doc to throw that hard yet. I still have faith in him. He is one of the best Phillies pitchers that I have ever seen. He had 17 complete games in his 1st 2 seasons here. That’s amazing for this era of baseball. He will be inducted in the HOF no doubt about it.

  9. GWB

    August 22, 2013 08:50 PM

    We all love Halladay as a pitcher, but Paul makes the correct point: HE IS NOT THAT GUY ANYMORE.

    Surprised there was no post or discussion of Halladay’s comments about the team/clubhouse the last few seasons…love his honesty and willingness to call it like it is

  10. Tony454tiger

    August 22, 2013 09:16 PM

    I will take 80% Roy Halladay to start 2014 season than I’d take 100% of 70% of the big league pitchers today. Make sense?

  11. Phillie697

    August 22, 2013 10:27 PM

    So would I and a lot of people. Except in all likelihood we’re not getting 80% Halladay back. It’s iffy if we’d even get 50% Halladay back.

  12. amarosucks

    August 22, 2013 11:40 PM

    Funny how people say ‘we’ let him down…and refer to the phillies as ‘us’. I wonder which phillies player posts here. My vote…John Mayberry.

    Don’t worry about halladay leaving. Amaro has a contingency plan in place. He’s going to replace Halladay/Lannan with Derek Lowe and Joe Saunders.

    God this franchise sucks. If there’s anyone I miss it’s Pat Gillick…and Mike Arbuckle.

    Fire Amaro

  13. Brad

    August 23, 2013 07:06 AM

    I am going to the Reading Fightins game on Sunday, where Doc is scheduled to start. Hopefully he’ll impress.

  14. Dave Weaver

    August 23, 2013 08:32 AM

    As for the discussion of whether Halladay is on the cusp of the HOF, or a lock bet for first ballot induction, let’s compare:

    Curt Schilling 216-146 career record, 3.46 career ERA, 11-2 in playoffs with 2.23 ERA, 2 WS titles, 3X Cy Young runner-up (twice had more wins than guy who won)

    Roy Halladay 201-104 career record, 3.37 career ERA, 3-2 in playoffs with 2.37ERA, 0 WS titles, 2X Cy Young winner, 2X runner-up

    Last year, in his first year of eligibility, Schilling garnered 38%, roughly half of the ballots necessary for induction. And he was a clean player in an era where the ballot is littered with alleged PED users no one wants to vote for. And yet he barely got half. If this is truly the end for Halladay, not only is he NOT a first-ballot guy, I honestly do not think he gets inducted at all.

  15. Phillie697

    August 23, 2013 10:32 AM

    Well, no, Doc is not going to be first-ballot, that much is clear.

    And yes, Curt Schilling absolutely deserves to be in the HoF as well.

  16. Chris S.

    August 23, 2013 01:26 PM

    I have read that Halladay said he isn’t worried about velocity, but rather repeating his delivery over and over and recovering from bad habits that were created while pitching with a bad shoulder. I still have hope for him and I still believe that if he can get his mechanics back he can still be a very good pitcher in this league for a couple more years by controlling the strike zone. I would love for the Phillies to take a flyer on him this offseason.

  17. BobSmith77

    August 23, 2013 11:22 PM

    Halladay will probably end up in the HOF but counting stats matter there. He was very good/dominant in ’02-’03 and then for ’05-’11. That’s going to hurt his chances with voters a bit including the 201 wins.

    If Halladay had won another 25-30 games the last 2 years, it really would have helped his first-ballot chances.

  18. joecatz

    August 24, 2013 08:47 AM

    “So would I and a lot of people. Except in all likelihood we’re not getting 80% Halladay back. It’s iffy if we’d even get 50% Halladay back.”

    I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with this statement. What I take issue with is what people are basing this on as an almost absolute fact.

    its two rehab starts. where the guy is literally trying to get back his old mechanics, while breaking over a year and a halfs worth of bad habits that forced mechanical changes due to pain, and at the same time isn’t anywhere near the point of being able to look at command, control, or velocity right now as what it will look like in six months time.

    The reality is that no one will have any idea of which Roy Halladay is on a major league mound in 2014 until real close to 2014.

    and the same people that say he’s done will be the first to either:

    1. say i told you so if thats the case and the Phillies resign him (it’ll be rubens fault for not seeing it coming)

    or

    2. Bitch and moan that the Phillies didn’t see it coming if and when he’s back to being 75-90% of the old Halladay and pitching effectively for someone else next year.

    the point is it’s WAY too early in the process to be making any kind of absolute statements or even having a real opinion one way or the other.

  19. Phillie697

    August 24, 2013 10:39 PM

    @joecatz,

    I’m not really trying to pick a fight, I really am not, but Roy Halladay is 36 years old, had a so-so 2012, and first two months of 2013 like was absolutely dreadful. I hate to say it, but your comment just now is a lot like the same things that the defenders of Ryan Howard keep on harping.

    Not a single person is advocating not giving him a chance. We’ll have a better idea about him by October. But seriously, it’s unlikely for him to be anything close to the Roy Halladay that we are used to. Think with your head and not as a fan for a moment: Do you really think Philly is the best place for him now? He will never EVER live up to the memories of Phillies fans ever again. Do you really think he deserves that?

    It might be time for him to leave so that we can remember him with the dignity he deserves. I don’t want him to leave, but I care about him as a person.

  20. Bob

    August 25, 2013 10:47 PM

    “As for the discussion of whether Halladay is on the cusp of the HOF, or a lock bet for first ballot induction, let’s compare:

    Curt Schilling 216-146 career record, 3.46 career ERA, 11-2 in playoffs with 2.23 ERA, 2 WS titles, 3X Cy Young runner-up (twice had more wins than guy who won)

    Roy Halladay 201-104 career record, 3.37 career ERA, 3-2 in playoffs with 2.37ERA, 0 WS titles, 2X Cy Young winner, 2X runner-up”

    I actually see Doc’s numbers substantially better than Schilling’s. Those 2 CYs count more than 3 x runner up, his winning % is substantially higher, his five best ERA+ years are higher than Schilling’s, he’s pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-no, and while Schilling has a colourful history, Doc is universally regarded as one of the hardest working, no-nonsense guys in the league.

    Besides, if Jack Morris gets up to 68% by year 14, you can better BOTH Schilling and Halladay are HOF bound, likely a lot sooner in their respective balloting periods.

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