Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SPORTS: Halladay And Why He Can't Be Traded

Roy Halladay is something rare in today's sports world. A man worthy of being lionized and called a hero by his fans. Does a LOT of stuff behind the scenes (both he and his wife) that a lot of people don't know about. And when in the spotlight, there's no better pitcher in all of baseball. A great guy.

And a future ex-Toronto Blue Jay.

If Paul Beeston is one-tenth as smart as he is, he won't let his lame duck. truth-challenged GM, JP Ricciardi trade Halladay. Oh, it would be great to see Halladay get his chance at the post-season this year, rather than waiting for next. And I'm excited about some of the talent being bruited about as future Blue Jays. But Beeston simply cannot let Ricciardi screw up one more time going out the door. He will be fired at season's end when Beeston hands the presidential reins over to his successor. The new guy's first act will be bring in his own GM (with the blessing of the manager, Clarence Gaston). THEN, that guy, who will be more talented than the peripatetic Ricciardi at the art of the trade, will sift through the offers and move Halladay.

Bluntly, Ricciardi has shown a penchant for acquiring utility men and back-end of the rotation guys and relievers. His eye has been quite blurry otherwise. And the 'talent' in the Blue Jay pipeline has me asking some questions. Afterall, we've heard about catcher JP Arencibia, first-baseman David Cooper and shortstop Justin Jackson, to go along with the talented Travis Snider. He had a good September last year, but otherwise, Snider's had a tough time since the spring of 2008 living up to his rep. Injuries have certainly played a part. There are other non-pitchers we've heard about, like catcher Brian Jerolman, third-sacker Kevin Ahrens and second-basemen Scott Campbell and Brad Emaus. But their names NEVER make the top 100 listings from independent rating services like Baseball America. So let's consider Arencibia, Jackson and Cooper. (I'll leave out the almost complete dearth of outfield prospects to speak of. It's too obvious after Snider was replaced by, first, failed shortstop Russ Adams, then by no-hitting David Delluci).

What are the Blue Jays apparently after in the coming Halladay swap? A shortstop for sure (Mr. Jackson, you are no longer needed. Dismissed!). Any credit Ricciardi gets for Marco Scutaro's breakout season should be tempered by the efforts Ricciardi made ALL LAST WINTER to find a different starting shortstop. All the credit goes to Scutaro and Gaston (who blows the semi-credit for playing the stellar utility man into the ground. But that's another post). Oh, and the Jays would like any of a number of catchers included in deals with several teams. (Mr. Arencibia, you won't be needed quite yet. If ever.) And some of the prospects the Jays find most enticing play the same spot that has been reserved for Mr. Cooper. (Sit down. Everybody. Your talent has been evaluated and found wanting).

Ricciardi has done some good things. He signed Scott Downs to a good contract and he dumped completely useless Troy Glaus (injuries, not talent nor desire, but the outcome is dismal just the same) for very useful, but overpaid Scott Rolen. The Scutaro and McDonald acquisitions were solid. He showed a willingness to forgive and forget (which I admit I wouldn't have) to bring in Rod Barajas. And he's fouled up just everything else he's done to some degree. The managers, the contracts, the non-contracts, the lying, the pig-headed drafting of college kids because that's what the book said, the brash attitude ticking off fans and ballplayers alike ... the list goes on. You'd have thought his ability to forgive and forget with Barajas might have extended to, say Orlando Hudson, merely an all-star on every other team he's played for. Break your word to him, but never call him a pimp. Otherwise, you end up on the next trade out of town.

Since Beeston has not been able to emplace his replacement as of yet, it's not logical to name a new GM. The new guy will want that task for himself. So the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans (remember, I cheer for the Twins these days) have to stumble along with the stumblebum who has authored this roster of over and under-achievers none of whom are worried about kids coming from the minors to take their jobs. If Ricciardi gets the chance at one more mistake going out the door, the Blue Jays are doomed to the mediocrity Ricciardi has institutionalized into the team.

That's why Roy Halladay will wear the horrible black Blue Jay uniform until year's end. My guess, a Christmas gift of a trade to the National League will follow the arrival of the new GM by mere days. By that time I will have rejoined the Blue Jay fan flock and will be sorry Roy's going.

At least I hope that's what happens.

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