While the beat writers assigned to the 29 other teams in baseball prepare their "Best Shape of His Life!" articles, the Phillies scribes find themselves amidst a crash course in Halladay Lore 101. The stories of the legendary work ethic and dedication to fitness are flying out of Lakeland, sending Phillies fans and bloggers into a tizzy from which they'll never recover. The stories of leadership by example and the positive impact on the rest of the team are the kind of P.R. you just can't buy. Luckily for the good people of Philadelphia, all the stories are true. The man really is larger than life.
This site has strayed from its "pandering to our dedicated Phillies readership" core values for too long, so why not throw the doors wide open? After carefully gauging the early, measured returns on Twitter and around the internet by a typically reserved and pessimistic group of diehards, let's indulge in some baseless speculation. How many Ws might Roy Halladay have beside his name come October? Could it be a significant number like 20 or even 30?
Likely? Not even remotely. Possible? Maybe. Many things work in the favor of Roy Halladay, the Phillies, and people who like round numbers. Coming to an inferior league is certainly one of them. Facing a pitcher or guy not good enough to start at least twice a night doesn't hurt. Exchanging 4-5 starts versus the Yankees for 4-5 starts against the Mets (Halladay versus Francoeur &mdash the first ever 2 pitch strikeout) can only pad the stats and win total. But there are concerns. Pressing concerns about the worsening nature of things in Philadelphia.
How much will the Phillies miss the steady glovework of one Mr. Pedro Feliz at third base? As a ground ball machine, Halladay relies on rangy glovemen (like former Phil Scott Rolen!) sucking up ground balls. As eternal cynic and Pedro Feliz superfan Robert Iracane tells it, incoming third baseman Placido Polanco hasn't played the hot corner in 8 years. Not to mention another year on the Ibanez odometer, the toll of unfortunate fame and bedazzled t-shirts on Shane Victorino.
Throw in a bullpen in minor crisis mode and you certainly don't have a sure thing. There are only two sure things: one is Halladay. Expect the new ace to perform at his usual levels: maybe a baserunner an inning, 4 strikeouts for every walk, a home run allowed every other start. He'll battle, and he'll scowl, and he'll generally make the CBP a better place to be.
The other sure thing is the Phillies in 2010 will win more games than Halladay's former employers usually did. Roy Halladay took a loss or no decision in 2009 while surrendering 3 or fewer runs 8 times. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will do their darnedest to see that improve. Personally, I don't think the impact of changing leagues can be overstated. I really, really think Halladay is going to eat up the National League like Kyle Kendrick consuming Roy's sweatbands. I think his strikeouts will go up while his walks go down. A pitcher that prides himself on efficiency and controlling his pitch count can only benefit from a league with less emphasis on "the big inning."
So what do we think will climb higher? His win total or the adulation of an entire region of the eastern seaboard? Is 25 in play? Would 20 be a disappointment or triumph?