Bring Back Halladay or Not?
Last night could have been Roy Halladay‘s final home start for the Phillies.
He allowed four hits and one run in six innings against the Marlins, although you should not look deeply into the results. The Marlins have a .627 OPS, which is the lowest mark in baseball since the Blue Jays had a .617 OPS in 1981. It also ranks 34th lowest out of 2,042 teams since 1920. And the Marlins have averaged 3.21 runs per game, which is the third-lowest mark in baseball since 1980 and 29th lowest in baseball since 1920.
If you watched the game last night you watched one of the worst offenses in baseball history.
But the big question is this: Should this be Halladay’s final home start or should the Phillies bring him back next season?
The trick is finding the magic number, if they think there is any chance he can get out big-league hitters consistently. It would be asinine to sign him to a one-year, $10 million contract, considering his struggles, health issues and age. But what about a one-year, $2.5 million contract with incentives? What about a one-year, $4 million deal? There is a number where the Phillies can bring back Halladay and feel the risks are worth the salary.
And there are plenty of risks. Halladay has hit 10 batters in 61 2/3 innings this season after hitting 71 in 2,687 1/3 innings from 1998-2012. He also issued three walks to increase his season total to 34. He is averaging 4.96 walks per nine innings after averaging 1.86 walks per nine innings from 1998-2012. Halladay has made 12 starts this season. Of the 178 pitchers that have made 10 or more starts, his 6.71 ERA is 174th. Of the 143 pitchers that have made 30 or more starts the past two seasons, Halladay’s 5.12 ERA is 137th.
His command isn’t there.
His velocity isn’t there. His fastball topped at 87 mph in the first inning.
We keep hearing about arm slot and how it will take time to relearn. We keep hearing how it’s remarkable Halladay is back from right shoulder surgery in three months, and how he will benefit from the offseason. But this is a production business, so the Phillies must move past the warm feelings they have for Halladay and make some cold decisions.
If the Phillies decide Halladay isn’t worth the risk, how do they fill his spot in the rotation? We know it will include Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Miguel Gonzalez, but the final two spots are up in the air. Kyle Kendrick could be back, although he has struggled the last two-plus months and has a right shoulder issue. Do the Phillies think highly enough of Jonathan Pettibone to just hand him a spot? There are free agent pitchers out there. Starters like A.J. Burnett (36), Tim Lincecum (29), Bronson Arroyo (36), Matt Garza (29), Phil Hughes (27), Scott Kazmir (29), Paul Maholm (31) and Ricky Nolasco (30).
I only take a shot at Doc on a very low-risk contract filled with incentives because if he pitches poorly you can release him and move on. But bringing back Halladay at any price only adds one more question mark to this team’s roster in 2014: if Ryan Howard can come back from knee surgery … if Jimmy Rollins can come back from the worst season of his career … if Chase Utley can continue to produce and stay healthy … if Domonic Brown can replicate his All-Star season … if Mike Adams can come back from shoulder surgery … if Cody Asche can succeed in his first full season … if Gonzalez can pitch … if the youngsters in the bullpen can carry their success into next season … etc. Maybe the better risk is spending more money on a pitcher with a better track record over the past two years. It would be one less question for the Phillies entering Spring Training.
So what’s your magic number for Doc? Or is that number zero?