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On Halladay’s retirement, impact on NL East

Dec 9, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Roy Halladay arguably was the best pitcher in baseball as recently as 2011, when he went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA, 220 strikeouts and a league-best eight complete games.

Two years later, the right-hander has retired, completing his surprisingly swift decline and ending his career much sooner than most would have anticipated not long ago.

Halladay, 36, made his announcement here at the Winter Meetings, officially signing a one-day contract with the same Blue Jays organization that drafted him way back in 1995 and then retiring from the sport after 16 big-league seasons.

“It was probably more steady than people knew,” Halladay said of his seemingly sudden decline. “There were times in [2011] where later in the games it would be a challenge. You know, as you get older, that’s how things go. You’re going to stiffen up. You’re going to get tight. I thought it was just due to age. But I know things were starting to change a little bit. I think the frustrating part was in the past I found a way through working out, through research, through talking to trainers, to overcome those things. Really, it kind of got to the point where as much as we did, we just couldn’t fully overcome it.”

Halladay was a bit of a late developer in Toronto, but once he hit he stride, he was as good as any pitcher in the sport over the last decade. From 2002-11 with the Blue Jays and Phillies, he went 170-75 with a 2.97 ERA, winning two Cy Young Awards and making eight All-Star appearances.

Fans in Washington, of course, saw far too often what Halladay could accomplish on the mound. He dominated the Nationals like few other pitchers have, turning head-to-head matchups into one-sided affairs.

Halladay faced the Nationals 13 times from 2005-13. His record: 10-1. His ERA: 2.26. In 99 2/3 innings, he allowed only 98 Washington batters to reach base.

Even when reduced to a shell of his former self this year due to shoulder and back injuries, Halladay still owned the Nats. On Sept. 4 at Citizens Bank Park, he held them to one run on three hits over six innings (though five walks and two hit batters were an obvious indication his overall days might be numbered).

Halladay’s departure from the game will impact the Nationals and the rest of the NL East. A Phillies club that desperately is trying to stay competitive and hang with the Nats and Braves in the division will be diminished even more.

And a Nationals lineup that for nine seasons rarely had an answer for Halladay will take some solace knowing it never has to face this intimidating right-hander again.

  1. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    I’m not sure that losing Halladay really hurts the Philles all that much. He was clearly done.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Hurt them? It helps them as they just shed him off payroll.

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        He was already a free agent so this is really irrelevant to the Phillies at this point.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    He is 36 years old. Debuted with Toronto when he was 21.

  3. MicheleS - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    As a Nats fan, I am glad he is gone, but as a baseball fan, he was a true pleasure to watch.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Knowing when to leave — gracefully — is a attribute that too few professional athletes possess. Well done.

    • NatsLady - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      +1

      I always checked to see if his turn would come up in a Nats’ series–and dreaded it.

      His press conference was very classy and moving.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        They are replaying his Presser on MLB Network now.

  5. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Looks like Rizzo is looking to replace Hairston.

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 2m
    Looking for some pop off the bench, the Nats have been in touch with free agent Jeff Baker. Plays all four corner positions, kills lefties.

    • David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Well, I guess he could be a backup 3B/1B too.

      • David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        And like Hairston, he can’t hit righties a lick.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        Still an upgrade over Hairston because of defensive flexibility. Just making carrying Hairston a problem to give the spot to him.

    • Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Granted he played in the Rangers’ bandbox, but that would be outstanding. Worth an overpay in my opinion. Check out his splits last year:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=bakerje03&year=2013&t=b

      vs. Hairston’s

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=hairssc01&year=2013&t=b

      • masterfishkeeper - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        I was hoping they’d go after Baker last year, but better late than never. As long as it’s not too late, that is.

    • DaveB - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      Yep … looks like he could potentially replace either Hairston or TyMo … probably would depend on which of those two we could trade and get something of value back. It would be selling low after his last season, but it sure seems like TyMo would have significant value, especially to an AL team (at least enough to help bring a LH reliever, although the fact that he has an option makes him more valuable to us as well).

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        No reason to trade TyMo if they were to sign Baker. He can go back to AAA this year. He is a guy I would hang on to because LaRoche will be gone next year and you never know what the 1st base situation is going to be moving forward. If Werth and Zimmerman don’t need to move positions next year you could look at Moore and Skole for 1st in 2015.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        Correct Pdowdy unless a deal called for it. Now is the time though to trade from strength.

        Rizzo has to keep some depth in Syracuse so certainly that is part of organizational depth with TyMo. I think Zach Walters could make some AL rosters where he could DH, PH, and occasionally play infield. My hope with the Nats last season was for a position change like 1st or LF.

        Kobernus has the speed tool like Eury and they always make for nice September callups. I see them in AAA unless traded.

      • therealjohnc - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        Zach Walters isn’t ready to make any MLB roster. He is a guy with one (1) power season in his minor league career, an OBP below .300 in AAA, and makes errors hand over fist. He might be ready … someday … to be on a major league roster.

    • pdowdy83 - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      He would be a better answer for backing up LaRoche than TyMo at this point. TyMo has the potential to be an everyday guy and would be served well to go to AAA and play until he is needed on a daily basis. Baker kills lefties and could give LaRoche a handful of games off a year at first without completely killing the team in the field.

  6. Sonny G 10 - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    I feared him against the Nats till the very end. I just never knew when he would throw a masterpiece. Hope some of our young Nats arms have as good a career.

  7. scnatsfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Was the horse I was hoping JZim grows into… assuming he stays here!

    • Joe Seamhead - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      sc-. as to Doc Halliday I’ve said for the past 2-3 years that old Cholly Manuel was ridiing that horse too hard and putting him away wet. There were just too many games that the Phillies were winning by wide margins and Cholly needlessly let him go 120-130 pitches. It took its toll.

  8. sunshinebobby - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    I’ll miss him like the hangovers I used to get before I quit drinking. Classy guy, but a bear. Swiftest decline from the penthouse to outhouse since Steve Blass lost it back in the day. Fame is fleeting.

    Which begs the question: why in anybody’s right mind are they handing out 7-, 8- and 10-year contracts like they were M&Ms?

    • Doc - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Excellent question sunshine.

      Answer: Because GMs don’t value money (it’s not their’s) or stats, and are desperate to provide their bosses an immediate winner so that they can keep their doofus jobs. Their bosses are even more foolish!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        Doc, I think GM’s believe they won’t be around in 8 years and certainly not 10 years and its a win now approach. I think it’s on the owners to say NO.

        It’s easy spending other people’s money. In the business world it’s called OPM.

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        I think there’s more to it than GMs’ carefree ways with other people’s money – you don’t cut a 9-figure contract without consulting ownership, and it’s the owners rather than the GMs who have been the biggest cheerleaders of some of these deals.

        Teams know as well as fans that they’re paying for dead years at the end of the contract. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had a piece about this a few weeks ago, arguing that it can be a rational business decision:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/accepting-dead-money-in-free-agent-contracts/

  9. Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    NatsJack, if you’re reading, we’re counting on you for on the ground mlbtraderumors-like reports, particularly on the Nats. I’d also be interested in how information spreads there? Are you able to attend press conferences etc? any color or atmosphere you can provide will be much appreciated!

  10. Hiram Hover - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    The Phillies as a team have been easy to hate, and their sufferings easy to enjoy.

    I never liked it when the Nats faced Doc, but I never hated him, and I certainly didn’t enjoy seeing him decline.

    Glad to see he’s going out classy–which is to say, not as a Philly.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Chris Sale on the trade market?

    • Joe Seamhead - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      Ghost, if he is, whatever team gets him becomes a lot better team. He has been absolutely terrific since he came up.

    • scnatsfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      And I bet they are asking more then the Rays are asking for Price

    • Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      Let’s hope he doesn’t end up in the NL East.

  12. #4 - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Baker is also a local kid. Played at Gar-Field HS in Woodbridge.

  13. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    I’m wondering if Rizzo’s new emphasis on lefty mashers is a reaction to our pitiful performance against lefties last season. Much of that seemed fluky to me (like Span, who has hit lefties very well in his career suddenly struggling) so it would be a bit of an overreaction to bring in pure lefty mashers. But maybe it’s coincidental.

    • Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      I don’t understand this comment. Lefty mashers to do better against LH pitchers?

      • DaveB - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        I think he is using “lefty mashers” to mean players that mash against lefties, since he is referring to Jeff Baker / Scott Hairston

      • Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        Ah, makes sense. I was confused because McLouth is a lefty (but not a lefty masher, as now defined).

        Unfortunately, Rizzo hasn’t made any actual move to improve our hitting against lefties. But since Hairston was brought in to mash lefties, and Baker is better at it than he is, that move would make a lot of sense.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Great interview on MLB Network with Joe Maddon. He gets it and the reality of his team. Discusswd what it means to lose David Price.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      BTW, Mark DeRosa doing a great job on MLB Network.

      Rumors of Dodgers matching up with Rays for Price on a trade. Yuck.

  15. #4 - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    The Nats are in a tricky situation with their bench. Because they have such a solid 8 man line-up, they cannot sell potential bench guys on the possibility of 300 ABs. Yes, it’s true that Lombo got that many last year but only because of injury. They face the same situation with their back-up catcher. They want a guy who could play every day in case Ramos goes down, but they can’t promise the playing time beyond about 30 starts. That’s a tough sell. It leaves them with guys like Baker who are more specialized. Frankly I’m surprised McLouth was willing to sign here. Perhaps it’s the reason it was a bit of an overpay – that and he knows the Werth/Harper injury history.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Not sure I agree about the “solid 8 man line up.” Look at the OF injuries last year, ALR shaky at 1B and maybe needing a platoon partner, Rendon probably still not up to a full 162 game season and needing more rest than a seasoned 2B would.

      Don’t get me wrong – I like the lineup. I just think it’s going to provide some significant playing time for some of the bench guys.

  16. Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    I’ll bet McLouth gets 200-300 ABs this year. Even if they don’t get injured, all three of our guys could use a day off every now and then. If each of them gets a blow one out of 16 games, that’s 120 ABs right there. Add a PH appearance every other game, and you’re up to 200. Werth and Harper each spending 10 games on the DL (not at the same time hopefully) and you’re pushing 300.

    • scnatsfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      Lets hope he gets 300 AB because he earns them. I’d hate 300 ABs like Tracy and Bernadina had last year, guys who got them because they were on the roster.

      • Section 222 - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        +1 on this. Or remember when Davey used Stairs for several games at 1B to “try to get him going.”? That was painful.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      And some away inter-league games — about ten? — where the Nats need a DH

  17. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Kilgore reporting that it’s “very possible” the Nats pursue their LH relief help via trade. Apparently, Boone Logan wants to be a full-on setup man (not just against lefties) and Howell wants more years than Rizzo is willing to go. O’Flaherty is still an option, but of course he won’t be ready on Opening Day.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:06 PM

      Wouldn’t be surprised at all. Rizzo could trade with the Astros and White Sox I believe.

  18. tcostant - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Roy Halladay is a Hall of Famer IMO. I know he is light on wins, but he was once of the best pitchers in baseball for a 10 year period. I hope the injuries are considered, the same way they were for Sandy Koufax.

  19. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 3s
    Probably the most interesting thing Mike Rizzo said: He thinks Danny Espinosa can play third — and well — in a utility infield role.

    This doesn’t seem far fetched. If he can play SS well, I see no reason he’d struggle at third.

  20. NatsLady - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Just saw this, in the Ex-Nats category.

    http://www.brewcrewball.com/2013/12/9/5193398/brewers-injuries-tom-gorzelanny-has-shoulder-surgery

    So, of the three lefties that Rizzo didn’t re-sign last winter, Gonzalez was terrible, Burnett spent the season on the DL, and Gorzo was OK but probably won’t be OK for the 2nd year of his 2-year contract.

    • David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      I don’t so much have a problem with Rizzo letting those guys, I have a problem with him not adequately replacing them.

  21. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    If you can play MLB shortstop — it’s mostly about the arm, after all — you can play MLB 2B and 3B, and Danny Espinosa clearly can play SS at the MLB level. Which raises the interesting question of whether Mr. Espinosa could reinvent himself as a utility player of Ben Zobrist variety. At least to gain value to the Nats (and himself). Mr. Zobrist didn’t really come into his own until his age 28 season; he’s since played every position expect pitcher and catcher.

    • masterfishkeeper - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Lord knows Danny has the arm to play 3B. But I doubt he has the bat, unfortunately. I’d love to be wrong, of course.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

        Exactly. Should have been more explicit about that. The Ben Zobrist model obviously works best if you can hit major league pitching reasonably well.

  22. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Wow, two interesting Nats reports.

    1, from MLBTR:

    “The Cubs are looking to the trade market in their search for relievers and have eyed both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen of the Nationals, among others, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).”

    2. Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan 54s
    Nationals are shopping infielder Danny Espinosa, who also could fill utility role vacated by Steve Lombardozzi if he stays in Washington.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Cubs ‘eyeing’ is different from Nats ‘shopping’ but it raises the interesting question: Given the acquisition of Doug Fister already, would you trade some combination of Messrs. Clippard and Storen (and, presumably, another piece or two or three) for Jeff Samardzija? You’d have to rebuild the bullpen, but I’d do it in a proverbial heartbeat.

      • David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 1m
        The Cubs have interest in Drew Storen to fill open closer role, source said. Nats would listen. Schierholtz, Russell are pieces that fit.

        Russell’s not that great and McLouth would seem to have filled any role Schierholtz would have.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        That makes more sense (from the Cubs’ standpoint, at least).

      • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        A lot of smoke has been emerging from the Cubs’ tent this winter. Mostly hookah, I think.

  23. masterfishkeeper - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    David Proctor, do you mean the left handed hitting outfielder role or the Nate role? Just kidding.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      +1

  24. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    “@mlbtrnationals: Cubs Interested In Storen, Clippard http://t.co/eM3cfyrkY6 #nationals”

    Wasn’t like I had a crystal ball when I predicted this a while ago as Roark slides into the pen and there’s 1 extra RHP to trade.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      Schierholtz (redundant) and Russell (weak) together would be a poor haul for either Clippard or Storen. Someone’s pipe dream.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      GSM — I thought either today or yesterday you were suggesting Roark hadn’t been around the NL long enuf to be entrusted in the rotation. If that wasn’t you I apologize. But if he hasn’t been around the NL long enuf for other teams to show they’ve figured him out he similarly hasn’t been around long enuf to justify trading the anchor of the bullpen just because you can pencil him in.

  25. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    New post

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NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 64 -- 0
ATLANTA 76 76 11.5
MIAMI 74 77 13.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 70 82 17.5
Through Wednesday's games
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