Roy Halladay: The End

Roy Halladay threw 16 pitches tonight against the Marlins, 11 of them for balls and never once exceeding 83 MPH. He walked two Marlins and recorded just one out, prompting pitching coach Rich Dubee to make an early trip to the mound to check on the veteran right-hander. Following a brief conversation, Halladay was removed from the game and Luis Garcia entered.

The game, which is still being played as of this writing, became an afterthought. Halladay was scheduled to make one more start after tonight to wrap up the season, but that won’t be happening. He is eligible for free agency after the season. Considering how he has pitched since returning from shoulder surgery, the Phillies’ interest in bringing him back on an incentive-laden contract has dissipated.

Roy Halladay’s career as a Phillie — and perhaps his career overall — is over.

GM Ruben Amaro long had his eye on Halladay after taking over for Pat Gillick. He tried to negotiate a trade with the Blue Jays in the summer of 2009, but refused to give up Domonic Brown to make a deal happen. Instead, Amaro sent four of the organization’s then-top prospects to the Indians for Cliff Lee. In the off-season, Amaro traded Lee to the Seattle Mariners for prospects, then used the payroll space to sign Halladay. Halladay could have refused to negotiate a contract, knowing full well he would be able to get a big contract as a free agent once his three-year, $40 million extension signed with the Blue Jays ended. But he left money on that proverbial table to sign an extension to stay in Philadelphia through at least 2013.

At the time, the Phillies were coming off of back-to-back World Series appearances. The organization had an influx of money. Lady Luck seemed to be on their side. Halladay thought the Phillies gave him his best shot to win a championship before his career ended. And who could blame him?

The start of his Phillies career couldn’t have started any better. He authored a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29 and finished the regular season with a 2.44 ERA. He led the league with 21 wins, nine complete games, four shutouts, 250.2 innings pitched, a 1.1 BB/9 rate, and a 7.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He unanimously won the NL Cy Young award. In the post-season, he no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS as the Phillies easily won three in a row to advance to the NLCS. Unfortunately, the Giants stopped the Phillies dead in their tracks, winning the NLCS in six games and would ultimately win the World Series.

During the off-season, the Phillies brought back Lee, this time as a free agent. Lee signed a five-year, $120 million deal. The Phillies also kept Roy Oswalt around, having acquired him at the deadline during the 2010 season. With Cole Hamels, Lee, Oswalt, and Halladay, the Phillies had by far the most fearsome starting rotation in baseball and were well-suited to march back into the World Series. If the regular season was any indication, they should have. The Phillies went 102-60, winning the NL East by a comfortable 13 games. Halladay continued to pitch well, finishing with a 2.35 ERA, but finished second to a deserving Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young award. In the post-season, the Phillies lost a very close Game Five of the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals, who would go on to win the World Series.

That Game Five loss was, in many ways, the end of the latest golden era of Phillies baseball. It was the last time we saw a healthy and productive Ryan Howard. Chase Utley seemed to be on the decline. The core of the team was well into their 30’s, and poor decisions made by the front office began to mount.

It was also the last time we saw a healthy and productive Roy Halladay. Excluding tonight’s start, Halladay had made 37 starts for the Phillies since the start of the 2012 season, posting a 5.12 ERA with a walk rate about 50 percent higher than his career average. His fastball averaged below 91 MPH for the first time in his career. After finishing at least fifth in Cy Young voting six years running from 2006-11, he was an afterthought.

Due to his yeoman’s work ethic and his highly-competitive nature, we all assumed that Halladay would eventually bounce back for one more run around the circuit. One more All-Star Game appearance, one more complete game shutout, one more post-season win. It hasn’t happened. And if it happens to occur in the future, it won’t be with the Phillies. The last two years have been as unlikely and unfortunate an ending to Halladay’s tenure in Philadelphia as could have been dreamed up when he first put on the red pinstripes four years ago. He never got his Brett Myers throwing-his-glove-into-the-air-in-jubilation moment, nor his Brad Lidge falling-to-the-ground-in-disbelief moment. In all likelihood, he will retire having never gone to a World Series, let alone won one.

He deserved better. He shouldn’t have to go out like this.

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23 comments

  1. sweatingisnormal

    September 23, 2013 11:19 PM

    The obituary seems premature. There’s a good chance he’s finished but a better chance he’s at Phillies spring training to give it a final try. It’s hard to see any other team giving him a spring invite, nor the Phillies turning their backs on him if he wants to give it a try.

  2. Phillie kid

    September 24, 2013 01:49 AM

    Have faith, my friends. He will be back.

  3. Stupid is as Stupid Does

    September 24, 2013 05:19 AM

    Hey, look on the bright side, every team in the fight for the bottom ten, 10th spot, also lost so a win last night would really have been a loss.

  4. Mark66

    September 24, 2013 06:30 AM

    It’s so obvious that he was not honest about how his arm actually felt

  5. bubba0101

    September 24, 2013 08:09 AM

    How could he not have been honest? He didnt have to say a word. He came out of the game after 16 pitches. This is Roy Halladay. He didnt need to say anything. He puts the team above himself in every situation and didnt want to make a big deal out of it.

  6. Stupid is as Stupid Does

    September 24, 2013 08:20 AM

    @Mark66
    It’s not like the Phils have an overabundance of SP and, really, exactly who was he hurting by trying to pitch? The Phils had more interest in seeing what he had left in the tank than whether they even win a game between now and seasons end. In fact, if they just go SP by committee other than pitch Lee and Hamels one more time each, who really cares.

    Boy, Rosenberg has really tanked since he got his first save.

  7. SJHaack

    September 24, 2013 09:26 AM

    Roy Halladay is so good that over 200 innings of hurt, 5+ ERA ball only raised his ERA with the Phillies to 3.25.

  8. Old Enough

    September 24, 2013 09:55 AM

    Roy Halladay ,,
    ^ Roy Halladay.
    Roy Halladay?
    ROY HALLADAY!!!

  9. Old Enough

    September 24, 2013 09:59 AM

    Sorry about the spacing- tears, resignation, wonder and remembered joy. ROY F’N HALLADAY!!!

  10. Larry

    September 24, 2013 10:21 AM

    The sweating and weight loss make him seem like he has a disease or infection or maybe he’s on some drugs. He just doesn’t look healthy.

  11. sweatingisnormal

    September 24, 2013 11:00 AM

    No, he’s not on drugs, just get him a Pepsi, all he wants is a Pepsi…

  12. Smitty

    September 24, 2013 11:20 AM

    Larry—I agree with you. He looks awful. Gaunt, drawn, and actually too skinny. He is constantly sweating when everyone else looks cool – it was 77 in that dome, not 90 !
    Very sad….to watch him struggle so.

  13. Pencilfish

    September 24, 2013 11:40 AM

    Halladay gave a post-game interview where he confirmed a diet-related medical condition is affecting him. Compounded with his shoulder surgery, it is unclear if his poor performance in the past few weeks signals the end, or if rest and proper conditioning will mean an improved Halladay next spring.

    What do people think the odds are that RAJ will take a chance on him?

  14. Larry

    September 24, 2013 12:08 PM

    Thanks for the update Pencilfish. I wonder what this medical condition is? Is it Diabetes? or something worse? Either way he shouldn’t have come back until this was more controlled.

    “What do people think the odds are that RAJ will take a chance on him?”

    I would invite him to Spring Training. Let’s see if he gains his weight back and stops sweating like this. Maybe RAJ knows what his condition is, you would think. Doc needs a good Doc to fix this.

  15. Noel

    September 24, 2013 02:25 PM

    Rich Dubee is who needs to go. Seriously the guy could not throw a decent pitch. Dubee couldn’t see this before the game. He is the worst pitching coach ever. Halliday obviously did something prior to this start and for the Phillies to not see it and not shut him down for the season is all on Dubee

  16. Dr Müller

    September 24, 2013 02:59 PM

    Bill,
    Great, great post. Best column you’ve done in ages.

    Pencilfish,
    Those postgame interviews with Roy really Brought The Pathos. I’m honestly skeptical about the notion that Roy’s family medical condition is the major contributing factor to his decline. That is, unless his family’s medical condition is “having a shoulder made out of human flesh and blood,” or perhaps “Not having the telephone number of Bartolo Colon’s family doctor.”

    I, like most Phillies/baseball fans, would have loved to have seen Halladay pitch in the World Series at the height of his powers. It would have been such a thing to see. I suppose we’ll have to settle for the Shakespearean tragedy that was Cliff Lee’s 2009 WS performance.

    That said, if Halladay can Moyer his way back into a full-time job as a competent MLB junkballer on some other team, then more power to him. I wish him the utmost success. I’d give him better odds than say some other guys.

    This whole thing has a very Dylan Thomas vibe to it. “Rage, rage, against the dying of the light” and all that.
    …that poem was about millionaires retiring from childrens’ games, right?

  17. BeezNutz

    September 24, 2013 03:41 PM

    Why was there a rush or a need to bring him back this year … or last year like they did

    Same with Howard before that

    how can they keep making these mistakes.

  18. Larry

    September 24, 2013 04:00 PM

    @Beeznuts,

    Doc is in a contract year. He wanted to come back early.

    As far as Howard goes, RAJ was in shock that the Phillies were doing so bad. There was a sense of urgency to brink him back. Both RAJ and Howard made the wrong choice.

    @DR Miller, why is Doc sweating in the 1st inning like that in a closed stadium, no sun, perfect temperature? He was sweating like Moses Malone out there.

    There’s no doubt with the sweating and weight loss, something else is going on.

  19. Pete

    September 24, 2013 11:06 PM

    Hmm. So many posts mentioning the sweating. But I think we’d be better served following a more modern approach and focus on more important factors, like the stool and the urine, if we want to understand his shoulder ailment. What I wouldn’t give for a glance in Sir Roy’s piss pot! With a proper diagnosis from a qualified barber, I’m sure after a little bleeding we’ll have him hurling in top spirits again!

  20. pedro3131

    September 24, 2013 11:34 PM

    Pete. I’m pretty sure this is a forum of learn’d medical doctors and we can infer major an rare medical conditions based off an athlete sweating….

  21. sweatsohard

    September 25, 2013 12:00 PM

    It is Miami people, it gets muggy.Excessive sweating even coupled with weight loss can be a symptom of so many health problems. We may think to question an underlying medical problem just because our human minds works in such a way to come up with answers as to why this once exceptional pitcher has become human has become unexceptional

  22. hk

    September 25, 2013 12:06 PM

    sweatsohard,

    It is Miami, but the roof was closed, the air conditioning was on and the announcers said last night that the players were complaining that it was cold in the dugout on Monday night.

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