It’s beginning to look more and more like Roy Halladay, at 4:01 p.m. on Friday when the trade deadline passes, will still be a Blue Jay – and that’s not a bad thing.
I believe that Jays’ season-ticket holders (yes there still are such people) will be among the most thrilled when that moment arrives and Doc is still on board. I think that Rogers ownership was stunned at the passion that was generated among fans surrounding the bid to trade Halladay. And since Jays fans are also Rogers customers in wireless communications, cable, video rentals, etc. than they had to be concerned about doing the right thing.
Season ticket holders paid for their ticket package in good faith and want to see the product they were promised, which is a competitive team in ’09 and a contender in 2010.
If Halladay goes (and he still might) I believe the Jays’ rotation would lose its way without its compass (Doc) and the whole thing would spiral into 90-plus losses while the prospects they receive in return continue to develop away from the major-league Jays. People are tired of the idea of a 10-year rebuilding plan. Power to the people. On to the mail bag.
Q: Hello Richard,
I've never understood J.P. Ricciardi's drive to trade Roy Halladay this season. I mean the good Doctor still has a year and a half left on his contract. During the winter J.P. told anybody who would listen, including Ace, that 2010 would be the year, no doubt about it, with a healthy Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and Casey Janssen we would compete with Yankees and Red Sox in the toughest division in baseball.
What I'm saying is, even if the Jays crash and burn the rest of the way, we still have the first half of 2010 to see what we've really got. It boggles my mind especially with the way Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil have been going this season as well. Why trade Halladay now? He'll be worth just as much at the next deadline.
Picture this, a rotation with Halladay, Cecil, Romero, Marcum and Jesse Litsch. 2010 could finally be the “year” that we've been promised since the first iteration of the five-year plan was initiated way back in 2001. What are your thoughts Richard?
Ray Young, Toronto
A: Actually it’s beginning to look as if Ricciardi is coming full circle with regard to the need to trade Halladay right here, right now. At least that’s what he’s telling some U.S. media. Perhaps the recent organizational retreat hosted by team president Paul Beeston was the turning point, but it now seems that 2010 once again is becoming a year that they want to contend.
The Jays certainly have enough candidates for a competitive rotation in ’10, even including Scott Richmond unless the “sophomore jinx” has a field day. Plus, if Travis Snider comes back in September this year and plays every day, he could be ready to do in 2010 what they expected him to do in 2009. And if they get a bounce-back of any kind from Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, who knows what’s possible. Nothing has changed from the optimism of last winter except the desire to save payroll.
What do you think of the recent rumour that the Jays are offering the Phillies Halladay for Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ and Dominic Brown? Apparently the Phillies are balking at the offer because of Drabek. Considering what the O's got for Erik Bedard, I think the offer should also include Jason Donald. Plus, Drabek isn't even their #1 pitching prospect (Carlos Carrasco). Thoughts?
Paul Miller, Waterloo, Ont.
A: The Phillies on Wednesday chose to go in another direction because of the Jays’ insistence on the inclusion of Drabek over Carrasco and Brown over another outfielder, Michael Taylor. Ricciardi made sure the Phils knew there was no wiggle room with regard to the three players the Jays wanted, bolstered by the fact that he knew he did not really need to deal Halladay right then. I agree with Ricciardi for setting his price and sticking to it and I agree with the Phillies for deciding they didn’t want to pay it and going in another direction with Cliff Lee.
I don’t think bringing the Bedard deal in for the sake of comparison in terms of what the Jays should get is fair. After all, the GM that pulled off that deal for the M’s was fired in large part because of that. I don’t think Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Pat Gillick of the Phils should be compared to Bill Bavasi of the M’s.
Q: I have read most of the questions in your latest mailbag and your replies, and strongly agree with everything I've read and the passion and thought in which they were delivered, so I won't belabour the point of a “Doc” trade any further.
My questions to you are: Do you sense any move afoot at this time by upper management to buy out J.P. from the last year of his contract (if you are at liberty to say, or don't if by doing so might create undue harm)?
Do you think that Major League Baseball, the real culprit in this unhappiness, has the guts, when the current deal with the player's association is up - and likely at the objection of Yankees and Red Sox - to fight for a real salary cap as with the other major league pro sports? The current one is a joke.
The two teams just mentioned have enough money in their kitty just from television alone to pay for those outrageously high salaries before their opening games of their season, and any penalty for exceeding the cap is a slap on the wrist. All the good players are gravitating to a few teams and this is now becoming more prevalent as salaries escalate. MLB is becoming an uneven playing field for the other teams while the Sox and Yankees fill their parks.
Ted Herman, Toronto
A: As for the status of Ricciardi, I don’t believe that he will continue on into the 2010 season as Jays’ GM. It won’t be a buyout by the Jays as much as it will be a failure to reach agreement on an extension into the future. Without that extension, they will mutually agree to part ways. I could be wrong. I have been wrong before on many things, but you asked the question and that’s my opinion.
As for the question of a salary cap in the future, there is no way. The players’ association is proud of the fact that theirs is the only major sport without a cap. It’s an issue that would cause another strike or lockout if ownership included it in the next negotiation. Baseball is proud of the fact that it has had eight different champions in the past nine years and that only a handful of teams have failed to reach the eight-out-of-30 post-season in that span – and yes the Jays are one of those teams.
It’s a huge generalization to say that “all the good players are gravitating to a few teams.” There are dozens of star players still with their original teams, but it is true that after six seasons when they are eligible for free agency that the same teams are always in the mix for their services. They don’t always end up with those players, but they do drive the price up for teams to keep their stars. Which is another reason why the players’ association likes things the way they are. Since 1996, the Yanks have won four World Series and the Red Sox have won two. That’s six of 13, but on the other hand, the small market, small budget Florida Marlins have also won twice.
I would like to comment on the Toronto Blue Jays' low attendance this year. The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have had low average attendance figures over the years as well. This is the heavy price these three teams pay when you're in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. It is time these three teams got together and told MLB they no longer want to be in the same division as these two big spenders. Expand the playoffs. Do away with the current divisions or ask to move to another division. (i.e. the Jays should switch divisions with the NY Mets. Let them deal with the Red Sox and Yankees). As a Jays fan I am tired of seeing the Red Sox and Yankees battle every year. Enough is enough. Give some other teams a chance to win.
Rob Ralph, Hamilton
A: Actually the biggest crowds that the Jays, O’s and Rays draw are when either the Red Sox or Yankees are in town. The smallest crowds are when the AL Central visits. From a business sense, why would you want to slide over into a division that draws flies rather than one that rocks the house? This is more about front office and management.
For years, playing in the same division, the Orioles were contenders and a playoff team. The Rays proved last year with smart, aggressive management that you can build a contender via trades and the draft. Yes, I would expand the post-season by one more wild-card team in each league because the inter-league factor is not fair to some AL divisions that take advantage of play vs. weak NL divisions to rack up non-league victories that are tough for other teams to overcome. A second wild-card would increase interest through September in more cities.
Q: The shame of this whole Halladay saga is that he is now finally getting true recognition publicly across North America as the best pitcher in baseball. I find it incredible that day by day, J.P. Ricciardi has gone from “we're just going to listen to offers, that's all” to “teams have the ability to make a trade if they want him, they just have to give up a lot.” I'm not sure when Toronto will next have the best pitcher in the game, but as a fan, it will be extremely tough to see Halladay pitch in another uniform. Especially tougher because of his tireless work effort, and what he means to this city.
My question for you is this. Is it possible that there was already an agreement in place between Halladay and the Jays brass that if things went sour quickly the team would look to explore to trade him? I'm only asking because Halladay mentioned several times that Ricciardi has always been “extremely honest with him” (I believe even his wife mentioned the same thing) and in his mind he did not seem surprised and actually resigned to the fact that his long term future won't be in Toronto. As much as we all blast Ricciardi for his poor timing of making the trade comments a few weeks back, perhaps those were comments based on a foregone conclusion that Halladay and the team had already decided to part ways.
Zaki Ameen, Mississauga
A: In all my time in baseball, since 1973, I have never seen such a public 24-day feeding frenzy as has surrounded Halladay. Certainly there are now more 24-hour sports news on websites and on all-sports television with a need for new nuggets of information and speculation with new names, new teams and media competing for the juiciest rumours. But it has been crazy.
Much of the distraction for Halladay and his family could have been avoided with a little more discretion from the Jays’ general manager whose stance of no comment seems to stop at the 49th parallel heading south.
You are right about Doc receiving the recognition he deserves as one of the best pitchers in the game. He would still be pitching in relative obscurity and when he does finally reach free agency, his price has gone up just from the notoriety of the past few weeks. Nevertheless I’m sure he would rather have done without it.
I don’t think that originally there was an agreement in place that if things went sour that they would explore a trade because Halladay has always seemed to be reacting to circumstances rather than guiding them. After the Jays were unable to come through with their promise to make the post-season in 2008 and with the payroll being cut back from $95 million to $80 million, I am sure that when Ricciardi came to him and asked him if he would waive his no-trade to certain teams that the failure to launch by the Jays in recent years made his answer easy.
Q: I was just looking up the stats on MLB.com and noticed that Adam Lind is second in extra base hits in the major leagues with 54 (21 homers, 33 doubles and 0 triples). Of course the impossible to pitch to Albert Pujols has 56. Just think Lind deserves a shout out for his play this year. Great to see him get a shot and deliver when given a chance. It's nice to see guys like Lind, Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill step up. The frustrating part is the struggles of two of the Jays top players, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, if those two played to their potential or past and lived up the their contracts I think we'd see the Yanks and Sox looking up at the Jays in the standings!
P.S. Love Halladay, can't believe J.P. is trying to make him the villain. Embarrassing for the organization. All Halladay has ever done is bleed blue and this is the treatment he gets.
Brad Bakker, Kitchener, Ont.
A: Lind does deserve a shout out. His renaissance is one of the great successes of Cito Gaston’s managerial tenure. Recall that under John Gibbons in 2008, Lind was brought up and told he was the everyday left fielder. After going 1-for-19 he was all of a sudden no longer the everyday left fielder and was summarily shipped back to the minors where he was still buried when Gaston took over from Gibby. He was brought back up and nurtured and stroked by Cito and Gene Tenace and Dwayne Murphy and the result is one of the fine young power hitters in the AL.
It’s strange – not that I agree with you – but the Wells situation in particular to me is the key to the season. If Vernon had Torii Hunter type offensive numbers – which is what they expected – then this team would be in a far better position, even with Rios being Rios. Hunter is what they should have reasonably expected Wells to be. Instead, he fields like Torii Hunter and hits like Tori Spelling.
Q: Hi Richard...the team's 10-9 loss to the Rays killed me. But not the way you think. Teams make big time comebacks in sports all the time. What destroyed me was the TV view of the Jays dugout with the bases loaded and a chance to win it in the ninth. I expected the boys to be on the steps of the dugout pumping up the guys at bat. But no, nothing, nobody off the bench, heads down, no emotion, no nothing. I was shocked! Please don't give me the ‘don't get too up or down in the 162 game schedule’ excuse, or the Halladay debacle. In fact, with everything swirling around the Jays right now, it is the time for someone, anyone to show leadership and take this team by the throat. Do you see anybody on this team putting themselves on the line and becoming ‘the face’ of the franchise? Without this they will never, ever get to the next level.
Terry Fallat, Espanola Ont.
A: I know what you mean. I have the baseball package on TV at home and I’m amazed whenever I see the Yankees dugout in the middle of a late-inning rally. Derek Jeter and A-Rod are always standing at the rail fist pumping for every hit. Jorge Posada is up and down the dugout with Melky Cabrera and other pinstripers pounding backs and cheering for teammates. It may be a reflection of the manager because Joe Girardi is like that and Cito Gaston is not. However the Yankees were doing the same things under Joe Torre who is Mr. Laid Back. The common denominator is Jeter who is really a good captain. As for the Jays, in a couple of years Aaron Hill has a chance to be the dugout influence but for now he is still trying to establish himself after missing most of last year. Wells has never been that guy and never will be. Adam Lind and Rios won’t be either.
Q: I was at the Rogers Centre for the Cleveland series and noticed that Brett Cecil made a huge adjustment throwing curveballs to right-handed hitters who were pounding his fastball? I thought Cito Gaston was actually calling the game, but noticed that Rod Barajas actually was calling the pitches without looking into the dugout. I haven't noticed this aspect of the game from watching on TV, but has Barajas been calling the pitch selection all year? I thought it was an astute move to go from a mainly fastball repertoire to throwing more breaking stuff early in the count from the fifth to the seventh inning.
Jason Sinnarajah, Sydney, Australia
A: Cito is not the biggest fan of pitchers or the art of pitching. He was a hitter after all. The man that prepares his pitchers for battle is Jays’ pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. Prior to every game, he and Barajas sit down with that day’s starter and go over every detail of the opposing lineup. They decide how they want to pitch every hitter in every situation. They decide who they don’t want to beat them with the game on the line. They decide that this is the day for Cecil to go with more curve balls to right-handed hitters after something else may not have been working the start before. If a team is prepared properly from watching video and from personal history against opposition hitters then a catcher will never have to look into the dugout for pitch selection. They may look into the dugout more for controlling the running game than pitch selection.
Q: We fans are not privy to what goes on in the clubhouse or the front office. But what, really, is wrong with Wells, the $18 million would-be superstar-turned-dud? Why does Gaston insist on keeping him in the middle of the batting order when he should be at the bottom? What has happened to him? Has he soured on the game? Is he unhappy in Toronto? From glimpses of him on TV, he looks like he's just going through the motions. The same questions could be asked of Rios, another would-be superstar-turned-dud. Both of these guys look like they're desperate to get out of town on the fastest plane. Thanks. Love your blog.
Bill MacDougall, Toronto
A: Wells isn’t thrilled with the fan booing he receives at the Rogers Centre, but he has the solution to stop the abuse. Just hit the damn ball. Like I said in response to an earlier question, this guy should be the Jays’ equivalent of Torii Hunter. He is pressing all the time swinging at the wrong pitches – especially with runners in scoring position, especially on first pitch. And if you swing at first pitch you had better hit the ball hard because it’s your best opportunity to zero-in on a certain pitch in a certain location. Instead he gets himself out constantly with the game on the line. That’s what makes him look miserable, not the fact of being in Toronto.
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