We just wanted to write you a note of congratulations on your trade to the Phillies. Apparently, you've even signed a three-year extension, which will keep you in Philadelphia through the 2013 season. We simply couldn't be happier for you.
"Why?" you ask. Well, let us break it down for you.
Everyone knows about your numbers: 17-10 last season with a 2.79 ERA, leading the AL with four shutouts and nine complete games. And yes, everyone remembers that you're a six-time All-Star and the 2003 AL Cy Young winner. We haven't forgotten that with your 148-76 lifetime record, you have the 18th best winning percentage ever among pitchers, ahead of folks like Roger Clemens, Sandy Koufax and Bob Feller.
But there's more to it than that.
Let's start with your array of pitches, any of which you'll confidently throw in just about any count. Your typical four-seam heater typically hits the mid-90s. Your filthy two-seam sinking fastball is just a few miles per hour slower at 91-92. Oh, and you'll throw your cutter at about the same speed. And my oh my, that slow curve gets batters buckling like they're on the wrong end of one of those Matrix-like time-delay video shots. And how could I forget about the changeup? It's just nasty in the right situation.
Would we have loved to see you in a Red Sox uniform here in Boston? Of course! But Theo Epstein was leery of dealing some of our top prospects to a divisional rival for a 32-year-old starter, and we can't blame him for that. Especially when the prospect of inking you to an extension would have cost about $20 million a year.
But still, Doc, we are delighted that you're heading to the Phillies. Honest.
("Doc" Halladay. Ha! I get it. Cute. But why do you have that nickname when Matt Holliday doesn't? He's the one who actually shares the last name of the real Wild West gunfighter, Doc Holliday, right? That never made sense, especially during this free-agent season, when both of your names were bandied about incessantly, while our brains were regularly overcome by homophonic haze. But anyway … )
We're sure the once-promising Blue Jays rotation will be sorry to see you go, but truly, we are just tickled pink with your new team. And so are the Red Sox, against whom you went 2-2 in four starts in 2009, whiffing 26 batters and posting a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings. Your 2008 numbers were even better: 3-2 in five starts with 24 K's and a 2.56 ERA in 38 2/3 innings.
Some of Boston's players will be especially happy to see you go — er, are especially happy with your situational upgrade. Jason Varitek, in particular, is proud of you — especially given his lifetime .205 average against you with two homers and 23 strikeouts in 78 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia's heart is swelling with pride, too, much more so than his career .211 mark against you. Even Boston newbie Mike Cameron (1-for-12, .083) will miss you.
But numbers can only prove so much. Let's consider some of your peer reviews.
"Roy is known as the best pitcher in baseball and will have instant respect," your new manager Charlie Manuel said on Wednesday. "He's a No. 1, a blue chipper and I expect him to stabilize our pitching staff. Roy brings a great work ethic and tremendous character and he'll have a big presence in our clubhouse."
And it's true, we too will miss that stabilized pitching staff and big presence on the now far less intimidating Blue Jays when the Red Sox play them 18 times in 2010. Sadly, Boston only plays the Phillies in two interleague series — May 21-23 in Philly and June 11-13 at Fenway — so, at most, they'll only get the pleasure of facing you twice. Bummer.
"He never throws a ball over the middle of the plate," one player said of your style. "He goes corner-to-corner as good as any pitcher in the game. I've said it before, he's probably the best starter in baseball."
Another said the following: "He's the best there is in the game right now. … There are some pitchers I own, and some pitchers that own me — he's definitely one of [the latter]."
Without you in the division, what nice things will there be to say about our AL East opponents (minus the Yankees, of course)?
Yet another former player, when asked about his pick for the ultimate matchup of current hitter versus current pitcher, said, "It would be Halladay against anyone; that's how good he is."
But it's not like those evaluations come from particularly respected baseball people, just five-time world champ Derek Jeter, three-time All-Star Torii Hunter and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, respectively. Big deal.
Longtime major leaguer Alex Cora once said that "if I was a general manager, and Roy was a free agent, I'd go over to his house, I'd give him a contract, I'd tell him to fill in a number and I'll be happy."
That's kinda what the Phillies did for you, oh, along with trading their ace lefty who went 4-0 with two complete games and a 1.56 ERA in the playoffs last season. It's clear Philadelphia really wanted you, and we're sure you'll like it there a lot. We hear the fans are terrific!
So to sum up, Doc (though we still don't understand the nickname), we would have loved to have added you to the Red Sox rotation for 2010 and beyond, but it didn't work out. We're confident you'll enjoy being a member of the Phillies — or of any other team in the National League.
Seasons greetings and good riddance — er, good luck!
Red Sox Nation