Can The Phillies Surivive Without Halladay and Oswalt?
By John Stolnis
On the two-year anniversary of Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Marlins, the Phils’ ace right-hander is on the disabled list for the next 6-8 weeks with shoulder ouchies.
Technically, the term is a Grade 1-2 strain of his latissimus dorsi muscle – or lat – behind his right shoulder. But that sounds really serious and everything, and I’m not much for the book-learnin’ and such.
Of course, the news could have been worse. A tear of the labrum or rotator cuff would have meant surgery and probably meant Doc would be out for the rest of the season. As it stands now, Halladay could return at some point in August, just as the Phils are readying their stretch drive for the playoffs.
Stop laughing. I know, I’m a regular Rich Little.
With Halladay out for a big chunk of the season, the Phils, according to published reports, offered Roy Oswalt a deal to come back to Philadelphia. The same Roy Oswalt who appeared disinterested for much of the 2011 season, missed a couple months because of shoulder problems, and didn’t pitch particularly well when he was on the mound last year. Instead, the Texas Rangers nabbed the right-hander for a one-year deal worth $5 million, with $1 million extra in incentives possible.
According to Scott Miller at CBSSports.com, the Phillies apparently made a better offer to Oswalt than the Texas offer, but Roy wanted to stay closer to home.
Friends, the Phillies dodged a bullet with this one.
Seriously, don’t worry about missing out on Oswalt. That $5 million is going to come in a lot handier at the trade deadline when the Phils need to make a deal for a bat. Also, it’s about time the Phils stop throwing money out the window on veterans and older players who are on their last legs. Granted, it would have just been a one-year deal, but signing Oswalt wouldn’t have been the answer the Phils were looking for.
Instead, the Phillies will hope that Vance Worley’s bullpen session on Friday is pain-free and that he’s able to return to the rotation. A starting five of Hamels, Lee, Worley, Blanton and Kendrick isn’t the greatest thing since the internet, but there aren’t a lot of teams that have two front-line aces, and a solid #3 in Worley.
Phillies fans have gotten spoiled with three and four “aces” over the last few years. Remember when the Phils had only one true ace? His name was Cole Hamels. It was 2008. And the Phillies won the World Series.
Of course, that was when the Phils were a little more balanced, when the offense contributed as much as the starting rotation, and the bullpen contributed as much as either one.
So, with Halladay on the shelf for the next two months, what do the Phillies do? They have some options within the system that could work.
Dave Bush is pitching well in AAA, with a 2.61 ERA in 10 starts, with 34 Ks and 8 BBs in 58.2 innings. Scott Elarton has a 3.44 ERA, with 29 Ks but 20 BBs in 52.1 innings, so control issues are a problem for him. And Tyler Cloyd has a 2.15 ERA in 37.2 innings, with 29 Ks and 10 BBs.
Those are three options that, if you’re looking for a #5 pitcher for a start or two, should do the trick.
It’s clear that if the Phillies are going to win the NL East, or even get one of the two Wild Cards in the National League, guys like Worley, Blanton and Kendrick are going to have to step up. Blanton had been great until the last couple of games, Kendrick is coming off his first career shutout, and Worley was terrific until his recent trip to the DL.
The offense is also going to have to pick up the slack, specifically Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence. All three players are playing below their career averages, especially Rollins, who has been nothing short of brutal so far in 2012.
Let’s face it, Halladay is an older pitcher. He’s 35 years old and has averaged 236 innings a year since 2006, not counting postseason appearances. This is what happens when you sign older players to long-term deals. It’s part of the risk.
That is not to denegrate the Halladay trade, or the subsequent contract. Ruben Amaro got Halladay for a song, and the deal is extremely team-friendly. This is just one of those unfortunate things that perhaps can lead one to believe that the baseball angels simply are not smiling on the 2012 Fightins.
Just something to remember, the Phillies now have $55.2 million on the DL wrapped up in three players (Halladay, Howard and Utley). There aren’t a lot of teams that can survive that.
Losing Roy Halladay is a body blow, no doubt about it. And there are two ways the Phils can respond. They can fold up the tents and feel sorry for themselves, or they can take this opportunity to think of themselves as underdogs.
Either way, Halladay is gone for two months. And Oswalt isn’t coming to save anyone.
Like I said… a bad news… good news day.