Halladay Back on Top as AL’s Best Pitcher

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Halladay Back on Top as AL's Best Pitcher Each summer, the trade deadline comes and goes with a few winners, a few losers and a few teams who just sit back and watch.

This year was no different, as the Red Sox (Victor Martinez), Cardinals (Matt Holliday), Twins (Orlando Cabrera) and Phillies (Cliff Lee) picked up important pieces that can push them over the hump down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Yankees grabbed Jerry Hairston from the Reds, but besides that, the Bombers basically sat back and watched, sticking a poker in the Roy Halladay fire every so often.

Which brings us to Halladay’s club, the Blue Jays, who are this year’s deadline losers. Toronto has general manager J.P. Ricciardi to thank for that honor.

Ricciardi was sitting on a gold mine the second he mentioned Doc’s availability, but he shot down prospect-filled offer after offer until he was blue in the face. Was this a case of a semi-small market GM enjoying his shot at pushing around big market GMs, or does Ricciardi believe that this Jays squad can shoot from the depths of the AL East and steal a crown while he still has the good Doctor?

The teams rumored to be dangling offers in front of his face were Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles (Dodgers), but Ricciardi became the deadline dud after reportedly turning aside such mega-prospects as Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and J.A. Happ from Philly and Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard from Boston.

"In the eight years I’ve been here, if we had a chance to acquire one player that I felt we could win with, I would have done it," Ricciardi told the Boston Globe. "But that’s me. I can’t speak for anyone else because I don’t know their personal circumstances. While we heard some creative packages of players, none of them had a chance to get done."

So now the Jays will hang on to Doc for the remainder of this lame-duck season north of the border and again next year before he heads out into the free-agency pool, leaving Ricciardi and the Jays empty-handed.

Playoff picture
AL East: New York Yankees (63-42)
AL Central: Detroit Tigers (58-49)
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (63-40)
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (62-42)

Breakdown: The Yankees are watching their first-place lead slowly fade away. The Red Sox picked up a couple of games on the Bombers thanks to four straight wins, including a sweep in Baltimore. The Angels have put the pedal to the metal out West and are enjoying a four-game lead over the Rangers thanks to eight wins in their last 10 contests.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies (59-44)
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (58-50)
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (65-40)
AL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies/San Francisco Giants (58-47)

Breakdown: Despite the acquisition of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, the Phillies have been skidding, losing four of five games. Philly still holds a five-game lead over the Marlins in the NL East. The closest race in the NL is in the Central where the Cards have grabbed first place back from the Cubs thanks to five wins in their last seven games.

MVP
American League: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Morneau continues to pull away from other AL contenders, posting 86 RBIs, 28 homers (both tops in the AL) and a .308 batting average to go with an impressive .980 OPS. The Twins’ first baseman smacked homers in two straight games last week while posting four RBIs in six contests.

National League: Albert Pujols

Despite getting overtaken in the RBI department by Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder, Pujols leads the nation in homers (34), OBP (.438), SLG (.661) and OPS (1.099). The Cards’ first baseman notched just four hits last week and is hitless in his last three games.

Cy Young
American League: Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays

Doc enters the week with an 11-4 record and 2.68 ERA, the lowest among AL hurlers with at least 11 wins. Halladay trails Josh Beckett for the AL wins total, but Halladay missed two weeks with a sore groin last month. In 148 innings, the Jays’ ace has struck out 129 batters while walking just 20.

National League: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

Cain is starting to emerge from under the radar out West as he’s dipped his ERA down to 2.12. Despite a no-decision in his last start, Cain went nine innings and allowed just three hits and no runs while striking out four and walking two. Cain holds the best winning percentage among 12-game winners in the NL at 12-2 and is holding opponents to a .222 batting average.

Rookie of the Year
American League: Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays

Romero has won his last three starts and has bumped his record  up to 10-4 to go with a 3.53 ERA. The lefty hasn’t allowed more than four runs in a start since May and has won eight of his last 10 decisions.

National League: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
The rookie center fielder is checking in at .292 with six homers and 31 RBIs. McCutchen smacked three homers over the weekend in a 11-6 win over the Nationals. He also has swiped nine bags and has a .831 OPS in 52 games.

Weekly Wonders
American League: Kendry Morales, Los Angeles Angels

Morales went 11-for-26 last week while smacking five homers and driving in 13 runs. The Angels’ first baseman also scored seven runs and notched four multiple-hit games in six contests.

National League: Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals
Willingham went 10-for-23 (.435 BA) last week and launched three homers. The left fielder roped two doubles and knocked in 11 teammates including an eight-RBI performance against the Brewers.

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