Over the past half-decade, he's probably been the best pitcher in baseball. Since Opening Day 2005, his ERA is 3.03 — and that's in the American League, and in a time period beginning when half the guys he faced were on steroids. In the last four-plus seasons, he's pitched 965 innings, struck out 698 batters and walked 156. He's the ultimate workhorse, the ultimate professional. On the right team, he'd be the ultimate winner.
So yes, it makes sense that Halladay's future is the lead story of this month's trade deadline drama. Any contender in baseball would love to have him — especially if they can afford to pay him. Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies — this means you.
Fans everywhere are abuzz about a possible Halladay blockbuster. Or, I should say, atwitter.
One Phillies blogger went so far as to tweet that "Anybody who thinks the Phillies shouldn't get Roy Halladay is @#$%ing stupid," blasting critics who think the Blue Jays' brass are asking for too much in exchange for their ace.
When the game's best pitcher is up for grabs, emotions are bound to boil over. People are going to be passionate about this, sure.
But let's take a step back for a second. What the Blue Jays are requesting is that any potential Halladay suitor fork over its entire farm system — or at least all its worthwhile prospects, anyway — just for a year and a half of Halladay's services.
In the Red Sox' case, that would mean Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard, Casey Kelly and Lars Anderson. The Mets allegedly were asked for Fernando Martinez, Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada. The Phillies were reportedly in talks involving Michael Taylor, Jason Donald and Carlos Carrasco, but they drew the line at giving up top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek.
Doesn't this all sound like a little much?
With Halladay, we're basically talking about a rental. The man's sure to command record-setting cash when he hits free agency in 2010; there's no telling how much he'll make, and there's no guarantee of any future organization locking him down with a long-term extension. If you trade for Doc now, the only guarantee is that you're getting him for two months in 2009 and then 2010.
If a team like the Phillies goes after Halladay, they're doing so with the impression that he'll make them a lock to return to the World Series. But in baseball, especially in October, there's no such thing as a lock.
There's a lot of luck in one game, in one series, in one month. Many have called October baseball a crapshoot.
In that case, why go after Halladay? The Phillies have a 6.5-game lead in the NL East with a couple of months to go. Won't they be playing into October either way?
The Dodgers, up eight games on the Rockies as of this writing, are in the same boat. Their pitching is good enough, especially in that division.
The hope, of course, is that Halladay wins you a ring. But there are way too many variables in the way of making that pipe dream come true, and the risk is just too great.
Imagine, in November, being the GM of a team that tried and failed to parlay a Halladay trade into a world championship. How do you sell to your fans that their future has been mortgaged, that their electrifying stars of the future are gone, gone and gone — all because you thought you could win the World Series?
Especially in baseball, no prospect is a sure thing. But neither is a pennant race — no matter how big a trade you make.
Eventually, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will realize that he's asking too much. No baseball executive is going to gut out his entire farm system to acquire one player, no matter how big an impact he might have.
"At this point, it's probably unlikely that we'll trade Doc," Ricciardi said.
The term "appropriate" means different things to different teams. But given the asking price Ricciardi has in mind, he's probably right: It isn't likely he'll find anyone who sees eye to eye with him on this one.
Roy Halladay is an amazing pitcher. One of the greats. And on the right team, he'd certainly have a shot at winning a ring. But the way the past few weeks have unfolded, it doesn't look like that's happening.
Halladay should make himself comfortable in Toronto. Although judging by his results there over the years, it looks like he already did a long time ago.
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