2013 Phillies Exit Interview: Roy Halladay

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Oh Roy. I'm so sorry.

Roy Halladay at Baseball-Reference

Roy Halladay at Fangraphs

So what do you say?

What do you say at the end of a four year contract, half of which was phenomenally incredible? Oh, you want to know what the other half was? Well, it was... um... it was painfully, soul-crushingly bad. Okay?! The back half of his contract was terrible and nigh impossible to watch. (Though believe me, I did watch.)

Now I need a drink.

Ok, I'm back. And I'm not ashamed that I need a drink to get through this. Roy Halladay's 2013 was something that I wasn't prepared for, even after his exceedingly unpleasant 2012 campaign. His shoulder problems, not to mention his velocity issues, followed him into the season. It was clear from the very start, way way back in spring training. While this year he didn't issue any denials about his health, it was clear that things weren't right. And if spring training didn't convince you, then Halladay's first two starts of the season probably did. In those starts on April 3 and April 8, he had a combined 14.73 ERA in just 7 1/3 innings -- 12 hits, six walks, and 12 strikeouts.

Of course, his next three starts were the polar opposite of that. 1.71 ERA in 21 innings, with four earned runs and five walks. That stretch of games was by far the best of his season. Two starts later, on May fifth, Halladay went on the disabled list with shoulder issues, and underwent surgery just over a week later to remove a bone spur in his shoulder and repair his torn rotator cuff.

If you look at Halladay before the surgery (8.65 ERA) and after the surgery (4.55 ERA), going under the knife did help. Somewhat. In theory. His ERA may have improved, but he struggled mightily and his velocity never made it back to where it was before everything started. And without the higher velocity, batters feasted on the pitches that flowed forth from his arm. He couldn't manage to find a way to pitch effectively at a lower velocity, and was shut down in late September with "dead arm." He ended the season with a 6.82 ERA.

Those are the numbers. But where does that leave us?

I've written about Roy Halladay a lot on this website. We've all watched him a lot since 2010. After 2012, I didn't think it could get worse. I really didn't. I felt like Halladay would have the offseason to fully recuperate, get himself back in the right head space, and he'd be able to come back in 2013 and be good. Maybe not the Halladay of 2010 or 2011, but he'd still have that dedication, drive, and commitment to get himself to a point where he'd be effective. I had that faith in Roy Halladay. He earned that faith.

It's not that I was wrong. It's more complex than that. I mean yes, I was wrong. I'll say it. But Halladay *had* earned that faith, not just from me but from the coaching staff. It was evident that the coaching staff was giving him a long leash, which is what you do with a pitcher of Halladay's caliber. The problem with that, however, is that Halladay doesn't want to stop until he gets it right. And this season, there was no getting it right. So that long leash became his enemy. He kept getting himself tangled in it, and the generosity of Charlie Manuel (and later, Ryne Sandberg) ended up making everything worse for poor Roy. Allowed to continue to pitch in outings when he clearly had no control and no velocity, it was just... very very hard to watch.

To want him back on this team seems the desire of a intensely delusional individual. But it feels wrong. It feels wrong *not* to have faith in him. He's Roy Halladay, for fuck's sake. But that's where we are. He's not the pitcher he once was. Regardless of what he's done for the Phillies in the past (and he has done a lot in just a few short years), it may be time for the Phillies to part ways with him. I wish him nothing but the best. I want him to have a marvelous, glorious, mind blowing comeback. I want him to figure himself out and throw a no-hitter at 39. I will root for him wherever he goes.

Here's a story: right after the 2010 season, I signed up to run in the first ever Phillies 5k, which was to take place in March of 2011. I had never run a 5k before. Actually, I had never run before. I'm just over 5 feet tall, and running just seemed futile. I'm short, just embrace it! But I wanted to do it, and I had five months to train. I'd go to the gym three days a week and use a couch to 5k app on my iPhone while I ran on the treadmill. But what did I listen to as I ran? I actually listened to/watched three baseball games I'd purchased on iTunes. Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, Roy Halladay's perfect game, and game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, AKA Roy Halladay's postseason no-hitter. I'd watch and listened as I trained, and watching Roy Halladay pitch actually inspired me to keep going. I was as surprised as anyone, since I originally watched the games while running because I desperately missed baseball. But Halladay's preparation, dedication, and commitment made me feel like running a 5k was something I could do.

I know that nothing has changed about Halladay --- he's always prepared, dedicated and committed. Halladay showed that during his exit interview with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. After last year's exit interview resulted in a very long HR meeting/intervention, Halladay decided to take a different route with his 2013 exit interview.

[Tall man enters with a large Acme paper bag over his head, with holes cut out for his eyes]

*muffled* I'm here, Ruben. I'm ready.

[eyes man warily] Roy, buddy, I'm a little concerned for you. That's not what this meeting is about, but you're freaking out the staff, and, frankly, me.

The only way I can be completely open to criticism and suggestions for improvement is to be objective.

So you're wearing a bag over your head.

The purpose of the bag is twofold.

You know, I don't really need to hear --

First, it allows me to disconnect from myself and be objective, so I may receive criticism and evaluate myself without any impediments. Second, it helps me deal with my shame.

The bag over your head helps you deal with your... shame?

[whisper] I'm so ashamed, Ruben. So very --

OKAY ON TO THE QUESTIONS. [looks at question sheet] Oh, god, this is a bad idea, Roy. Let's just --

ASK THEM

Okay! Okay! This year was an unmitigated disaster. How did you contribute to that disaster? You don't have to answer that.

But I do, Ruben. I was bad. I failed to improve on my already substandard 2012.

You were injured, physically ill, and 36 years old. Plus, you've pitched more than 2700 innings.

I FAILED AND THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Roy, everyone fails. I mean, look at Chad Durbin. That's an example of failure. Not mine, of corse, but his!

Did you just compare me to Chad Durbin?

No?

I should talk to him. Invite him to my house for a week. Or a month. Perhaps then he can teach me about failure.

You'd be better off asking Kendrick about that.

It's funny that you think I haven't.

With that bag over your head I can't tell if you really think it's funny.

[silence]

Oh god, that's where Kendrick was that weekend last month when no one could find him.

Next question.

If I have to. Do I?

You do.

Fine. All of my options for next year are open. Should I trade you, keep you, or release you?

Do you really decide what happens to me, Ruben?

Um, yes. Yes I do. That's my job.

Do any of us really decide what happens to anything?

Uhhh...

None of us are really in control.

Well, you might be right about that. David Montgomery is actually in control. He holds all of our fates in his hands.

[silence]

[holds up sign] "THE MICROPHONES CAN HEAR EVERYTHING." Uh, so some people have said that I shouldn't keep my job. Why do YOU think I should continue as GM of the Philadelphia Phillies?

You and Rich and Charlie and Not-Charlie have been very kind to me, trusting me when I say I'm okay to pitch, letting me start whenever I want. So you're aces with me.

Thank you, Roy. AND DAVID MONTGOMERY IS A GREAT MAN. So tell me why your time with the Phillies has been the highlight of your life.

There hasn't been anything about my time with the Phillies I haven't enjoyed. Even with the adversity. [takes off bag, clutches to heart] With the team, the staff, and the fans, I love it here. I went to the playoffs with this team. I threw a perfect game and a no-hitter with this team. No matter what happens to me, I will always hold the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia dear to me and in the highest regard.

That's very touching, Roy.

Who does your exit interview?

What?

Who conducts your exit interview?

Well, it's David. He's my boss.

How are you preparing?

I'm not. It's not like what we're doing here...

Put the bag on. It will help you.

Oh, fine.

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