The Phillies' first losing season since 2002 is sure to bring wholesale changes in the offseason. But who should stay and who should go? Over the next two weeks, we're asking that very question and putting players under the spotlight.
First up, perhaps the biggest question mark ...
Position: Starting pitcher
Status: Free agent; completed a three-year, $60 million deal.
Signature games of 2013
Just think … it was exactly three years ago Sunday that Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history. This year the games to remember were few and far between for Halladay. The numbers — a 4-5 record with a 6.82 ERA in 13 starts — told the story for Halladay in 2013. Given how far Halladay has fallen in such a short time, the numbers seem worse than what they were.
The year was not without its milestones, though. A 2-1 victory over the Marlins on April 14 in which Halladay scattered five hits in eight innings was his 200th career victory. In his next start, Halladay got a rain-shortened, two-hitter complete game, followed by a one-hitter over six innings his the next outing against the Pirates.
The high point may have been the six innings Halladay pitched on Aug. 25 in his first start back from shoulder surgery. Rushed into a quick return after manager Ryne Sandberg had exhausted all of the Phillies’ pitching options in an 18-inning loss to the D-backs, Halladay returned to grind out six innings for a 9-5 win.
Season as a whole
This was a season Halladay will either banish from his mind quickly or look back on as a crossroads. No one would have faulted Halladay if he decided to shut it down after undergoing shoulder surgery in May. But that’s just not his way. Because he was paid to do a job, Halladay rushed back and was on the mound in three-and-a-half months. By the end of September, however, it was clear that Halladay needed more time to rest.
Halladay made six starts following surgery to mixed results. His velocity was gone, and the bite on his breaking pitches had no teeth. To get by, Halladay threw changeups and curves mixed with grit and guile. Though the Phillies went 4-2 in those starts, his arm had enough strength to get through 16 pitches and three batters in his last start on Sept. 23 in Miami.
Stay or go
This is a tough one. If the Phillies can agree to a low-salary, high-incentive deal with Halladay, then by all means, keep him. After all, the Phillies have taken low-risk/high-reward chances on pitchers like Pedro Martinez and Carlos Zambrano to varying degrees of success.
Halladay and the Phillies’ brass believe that all the pitcher needs is a winter of rest and rehab and he will be as good as new come spring training. That very well may be the case. Still, at age 36, Halladay’s best days are in the past. He can still be an effective pitcher, but it would have to be for the right price.
Then again, maybe Halladay wants to go elsewhere. He says he would pay to play for a World Series contender and the Phillies have a lot of work to cover this winter to get back to that status. If the Phillies’ work on the hot stove turns out to be less than satisfactory, expect Halladay to entertain offers from other teams.
Talk on Doc...
“I don’t know what the future holds. But I want to go somewhere that wants me and somewhere that’s going to have a shot. If things go the way I’ve been told they’re going to go, I’m going to be able to be competitive next year. I’ve never given up the hope that I could pitch here again, but obviously that’s a mutual decision.”
--Roy Halladay, Sept. 24, 2013
“Again, if we think he’s going to be a viable possibility for us, we’d like to try to bring him back. We have to talk internally more about Doc. But Doc’s a pretty special guy. And if there was somebody that was going to come back and be an effective pitcher, it would be him. We’ll have to see whether we think he can. We’ll talk to our doctors and see where we go.”
--Ruben Amaro Jr., Sept. 24, 2013