Phillies

Which team will Roy Halladay represent in the Hall of Fame? The decision was easy for his family

Which team will Roy Halladay represent in the Hall of Fame? The decision was easy for his family

NEW YORK — Roy Halladay was drafted and developed by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent 12 of his 16 big-league seasons with the Jays and earned 148 of his 203 victories with that club.

It would be completely understandable — even in Philadelphia, where Halladay spent four memorable seasons — if he were to go into the baseball Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays cap perched atop his head on the bronze plaque that will hang forever on the hallowed walls of Cooperstown.

But Halladay’s cap will carry no logo at all.

“I know we spent the majority of our time in Toronto,” Halladay’s widow, Brandy, said at Wednesday’s official Hall of Fame news conference. “Toronto gave us that chance, that base, that start. But Philly also gave us a chance to win a ring and the passion that we wanted. There’s no way to choose and so we’ve decided that he’ll go in with no team.”

Brandy Halladay was joined by the couple’s two teenage sons, Braden and Ryan, at the Manhattan news conference. The three of them had flown to New York on Wednesday morning. They were initially supposed to take a sunrise commercial flight out of Tampa. Phillies managing partner John Middleton caught wind of the family’s travel plans, surmised that it would be too stressful on them, and sent his private jet to the Tampa area to deliver them to New York.

Roy Halladay was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, in his first year of eligibility. The honor comes less than 15 months after he was killed when the small plane he was piloting crashed off the west coast of Florida in November 2017. Halladay will be officially enshrined into Cooperstown on July 21, along with closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera, another first-ballot selection. Designated hitter Edgar Martinez and pitcher Mike Mussina were also elected Tuesday and outfielder Harold Baines and pitcher Lee Smith were elected by a special committee in December.

Mussina split his career between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. He said Wednesday that he was undecided which team’s cap would adorn his Hall of Fame plaque.

The Halladay family had no indecision.

“It was a quick decision,” Brandy said. “The Hall walks you through this. They say, ‘Don’t feel rushed,’ but I kind of already knew how I felt.

“We think that this is the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s not the Phillies’ Hall of Fame or the Blue Jays’ Hall of Fame. Roy is going in as a Major League Baseball player and I think that is important because that’s what he is.

“I would hope that he represents something to all of baseball, not just to Phillies or Blue Jays fans, but to baseball as a whole and I think that is how he should be represented.”

Halladay spent just four seasons in a Phillies uniform and though he never got that ring, he had some incredible highs with the club. He pitched a perfect game and made it to the postseason for the first time in his career. He pitched a no-hitter in the playoffs. He won the National League Cy Young award as a Phillie in 2010 and finished second in the voting in 2011. He had won the American League Cy Young Award with the Jays in 2003. He is on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame and the Jays’ Level of Excellence.

Though the family professed its love and gratitude to both cities, going into the Hall with no direct team affiliation could be translated by some as a sign of respect for Halladay’s time and accomplishments in Philadelphia. After all, he spent just a quarter of his career with the Phillies.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” Brandy Halladay said of her family’s time in Philadelphia. “It’s the most loving, passionate, insane city. It was everything we hoped to have a chance to be part of.”

Several players have gone into the Hall of Fame without a team logo on their cap. Catfish Hunter, who split his career between the Oakland A’s and Yankees, has a blank cap. Recently, Greg Maddux could not pick between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves and went in with a blank cap. Ditto for manager Tony La Russa, who skippered World Series winners in Oakland and St. Louis. Though the Hall of Fame technically has final say on which cap a player wears on his plague, it usually works with the player and defers to his wishes.

In this case, the Hall of Fame will defer to the Halladay family’s wish. Out of respect for his two baseball homes, Roy Halladay’s cap will be blank.

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Phillies to sign Matt Szczur, according to sources

Phillies to sign Matt Szczur, according to sources

The Phillies are about to sign a player with a resume chock-full of impressive — and important — accomplishments.

According to sources, Matt Szczur, the 30-year-old outfielder from South Jersey, has agreed to sign a minor-league contract with the Phils. The deal will include an invite to major-league spring training camp.

Szczur — pronounced SEE-zur — has spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. He is a product of Lower Cape May Regional High School and Villanova University. He was a two-sport star at Villanova.

On the football field, Szczur was a dynamic receiver and return specialist for Villanova’s 2009 NCAA FCS national championship team. He racked up 270 all-purpose yards in the title game win over Montana and was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

On the baseball field, Szczur was an all-Big East player and a fifth-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2010. He played in 107 games for the Cubs team that won the World Series in 2016.

Szczur’s accomplishments extend beyond the playing field.

Off the field, he did something extraordinary when he took time off from his junior year baseball season at Villanova in 2010 to donate bone marrow that ultimately helped save the life of a young girl from Ukraine who had battled leukemia. Szczur’s life-saving gift started with his involvement in the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. Talley was Szczur’s football coach at Villanova. Szczur has subsequently started his own charitable enterprise, the Szcz The Day Foundation.

Szczur hit .259 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 185 at-bats for the World Series champion Cubs in 2016. He was traded to San Diego in 2017. He spent parts of that season and the 2018 season in the majors with that club. He signed a minor-league deal with Arizona last season and hit .322 with eight homers, 28 RBIs and a .967 OPS in 44 games at Triple A Reno. His season was shortened by a quad injury.

The Phillies are set at the corner outfield spots with Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper and Adam Haseley is going to get a chance to hold down the center field spot with Roman Quinn in the picture as well. Szczur will give the Phillies some outfield depth and his ability to play center field is a plus. He is an excellent defender at all three outfield positions and could push for a spot on the big club as active rosters will expand from 25 to 26 men in 2020.

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Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

SAN DIEGO — A year ago, Phillies officials left the winter meetings with much of their offseason work still in front of them.
 
Manny Machado was still a front-burner free-agent item. Bryce Harper was still in the background and J.T. Realmuto was headed to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York … anywhere but Philadelphia.
 
You know the rest of the story.
 
Spring training had already begun by the time the Phillies settled their offseason last year. A year later, Phillies officials departed the winter meetings on Thursday with their heavy offseason lifting complete.

The Phils signed free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract last week and free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal at the meetings this week. The signings left the Phils about $5 million under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold for the coming season and the club will be mindful of that. It’s likely — though not certain — that any further moves the Phillies make will qualify as tweaks.
 
Here are a few things to keep an eye on over the remainder of the offseason.

The starting rotation

Aaron Nola and Wheeler give the Phillies a “1 and a 1-A,” as manager Joe Girardi said.

Jake Arrieta is healthy and will be ready to go Day 1 of camp and Zach Eflin will hold down a job. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are slated to battle for the fifth job, though it would not be surprising to see the Phils bring back Drew Smyly on a minor-league deal to join the fight. The Phils were keeping an eye on Rick Porcello to see where his market was headed, but he signed for one year and $10 million with the Mets. Lefty Wade Miley could be someone to keep an eye on, depending where his market goes. The Phils are committed to having top prospect Spencer Howard start the season in Triple A, but he could have a major impact as the season goes on. The Phils will watch Howard’s workload — because of injury, he pitched under 100 innings last year — so adding bargain depth is a must.

The bullpen

At the moment, it looks like a fairly unchanged unit. The Phils are banking on Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez being healthy again and Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez and Ranger Suarez carrying a heavy load again. Pivetta, Velasquez or both could be used in the ‘pen, depending on the depth that is added in the rotation. If the Phils want to push the tax, they could make a play for former Yankee Dellin Betances. Someone from the system like Garrett Cleavinger or Connor Brogdon could surprise in spring training. How about Tommy Hunter? The Phils put a lot of time into his rehab after elbow surgery last year. Could he be a fit on a bargain deal? Ditto for Jared Hughes and Mike Morin.

The bench

Former All-Star and .300 hitter Josh Harrison has been signed on a minor-league deal. He can play anywhere and figures to have a good chance to make the club. Phil Gosselin, another jack of all trades, is coming back on a minor-league deal and the team has shown some interest in free agent Matt Szczur. Brad Miller remains a free agent and a potentially good fit. Jay Bruce will add power off the bench. Andrew Knapp returns as backup catcher but it would not be surprising to see the Phils sign one or two more veteran catchers to push for work and add depth. Remember, Girardi has said he’d like to keep Realmuto to between 120 and 130 games so he is fresh in October. “That’s where the prize is,” Girardi said. Austin Romine would have been a nice fit, but he signed with Detroit. 

Trades

While it appears as if most of the team’s major moves are done, general manager Matt Klentak and his group will continue to stay engaged on the trade front and you never know if one could materialize. Nick Williams could be dealt. Miami has long liked him. Velasquez could be dealt for some salary relief, particularly if the Phils are able to add starting pitching depth. The Phils would surely listen on Jean Segura, but he has three years and $45 million left on his deal so that would not be easy.
 
Could the Phils make a major trade?
 
After seeing the Realmuto deal come together so quickly last February, it can’t be ruled out. Even something crazy is possible. By crazy we mean Kris Bryant. Yes, he’d be a nice fit as the Phils make a quick push at a title before he becomes a free agent. But it’s a real long shot and it would probably cost top prospect Alec Bohm, and it would definitely push the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, though managing partner John Middleton has said he would go over it for the right championship-caliber opportunity. Maybe that’s Bryant. There will continue to be buzz about him and the Phillies will continue to be connected to him as long as there is.
 
J.A. Happ could be another guy to watch on the trade front. The Phils made him an offer last winter and he signed with the Yankees. The Yanks are now eager to move his $17 million salary and might attach a good prospect to the package to help make the deal. Happ would put the Phillies over the tax, but, given the Phils’ need for more pitching, it might it be worth rolling the dice on the left-hander having a bounce-back year if and only if the Yanks attach a good prospect or two to the deal. 

What about Herrera?

The end of the winter meetings begins to put spring training in focus and the Phillies have a big decision to make before then: Do they bring Odubel Herrera to camp? Do they release him? The Phils would eat most of his salary to trade him, but there has been no interest.
 
We dealt with the Herrera situation more deeply in this story.

Realmuto's extension

Sometime before spring training, the Phils are expected to pursue a contract extension with Realmuto.

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