Toronto Baseball Guys
Sunday, December 13, 2009
  To Trade or Not to Trade
Roy Halladay is the greatest Jays pitcher ever. Just consider the comparisons. He’s got the longevity to match “Diamond” Jim Clancy, without the losses; the stuff to match Roger Clemens without the alleged needle marks in his rump; the Cy Young to match Pat Hentgen, and the game day intensity of Jack Morris and Dave Stewart, while managing to spend more time doing it for the Jays. Halladay’s ability to pitch so much better than the bullpen, leading to multiple blown leads is comparable to Juan Guzman, without that curly mullet and he’s got a wife who challenges Cindy Key for the great social conscience award. The only comparable pitcher to spend a career in the baby blue is Dave Stieb, but Roy hasn’t subjected us to nearly as many in-game jock strap adjustments.

There is no doubt that Roy Halladay is a great pitcher, a great guy and a great bet to be traded. Halladay’s “people” have informed the general public that he will not entertain any trade talks once spring training begins. I’m pretty sure he’s bluffing, but that’s beside the point. He really should be traded as soon as possible for both his sake, and the Jays’.

He can’t help this team:
Halladay had a pretty good year by his standards, and the Jays still finished fourth. Attendance at Jays games was miserable last year even with the ace on the mound. The team doesn’t need to hang on to a great player for one more year if he’s going to help them to third or fourth place. It doesn’t matter how great he is.

Play For the Future:
There seem to be several exciting players developing within the Jays’ system. It’s time to start focussing on the Linds, Hills and Sniders without subjecting them to a summer long Roy Halladay farewell tour, sprinkled with some “Reports of my refusal to accept a trade after spring were vastly overrated”.

Fleece the Enemy:
If the Jays are planning to contend in a few years, it would help if they take some good young players who will be dominating at that time away from their competition. Do this trade, and put a hurt on someone’s farm system, Yankees, Bosox, Angels, anyone.

Now that we’re all in agreement on whether or not to trade Roy Halladay, our focus shifts to what we should get for him. It’s time to make like the winners of the old Wheel of Fortune. As we superimpose our heads onto the showcase of available major league talent we can see a lot of shiny happy players. I’m waiting like a kid on chanukah to see what gifts Santanthopolous has for us, but while we’re at it, I’d like to make a suggestion.

No Pitchers:
Are we done trying to build through pitching yet? Pitchers get injured, they just do! I’m sick and tired of salivating about the next great young arm, only to hear that they’ve taken a precautionary visit to Birmingham Alabama to meet Dr. James Andrews. One year later, they’re trying to find out what happened to their velocity, control and locker in the change room.

I also don’t like promising young pitchers with “lightning bolts for arms”, because too often we find out about their “ten cent heads” –my credit to Crash Davis, and apologies to AJ-. Roy Halladay is one of those rarities who has managed to combine a great arm with a great psychology, but not every young guy throwing 100 mph knows how to pitch, or is able to figure it out eventually.

It’s also difficult for a team to carry a swagger when it’s relying on pitching alone. Good pitching performances are keys to winning, but no good pitcher has a winning performance every time out. There is nothing more frustrating than wasting a Doc Halladay line of 1 ER 9 IP in a 1-0 loss. Even worse, there’s nothing more demoralising than knowing the ace is on the mound and joining the game in progress only to see that he’s down 4-0. It doesn’t matter how well Roy pitches for the next six innings, with no run support, the game’s over.

Consider the extreme case of the 2009 Yankees. Certainly they had some good pitching, but they also had a line up that seemed to win a game in its final at bat every other night. When a good pitcher has a bad start, they’re in the showers watching their team lose. When a good hitting line up has a bad start, they’re due and everybody knows it. The opposing staff starts over thinking and under pitching, setting the table for the next great comeback. A strong offence is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Jays also have a bevy of young arms that have proven themselves capable of pitching. This should fill the void until the young bats develop. After that, some of the throwers can become pitchers, and the rest of the holes can be covered through greedy free agent pitchers salivating at the chance to pitch for an offence that will spot them six runs a night. I recall Curt Shilling –then of the Diamondbacks- suggesting he’d ok a trade to the Jays in the first half of ’03 when they were pounding the ball all over the park.

Consider some current Jays:
Adam Lind (lf/dh/1b)
Aaron Hill (2b)
Travis Snider (rf) –he’s developing…right?
Vernon Wells (cf)-he’s bound to start hitting sooner or later

Those are four bats that could strike some fear in pitchers for a few years to come. Add three young hotshot bats from a Halladay trade and they could probably cover two of Lind’s spots, and one more at third base. If two of those pan out, you’ve got six good bats, which can be rounded out with defensive minded players at catcher, short and –sorry Vernon- cf. I’m not saying that it will all work out, but I don’t remember a lot of pitchers fearing the bats of Borders, Lee and White at the start of the 1992 campaign. Besides, MLB isn’t looking the other way anymore when it come to steroids, short stop and centre field might go back to the way of the glove-first, bat-if-you-have-to players.

Roy, it’s been a pleasure, but I think we’re going to go in a different direction.

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