The time has finally come for Blue Jay fans; Roy Halladay will soon depart Toronto for greener pastures in the National League. Leaving Toronto, Roy will pack up his family and crate them down to beautiful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the next destination for my annual ballpark roadtrip.
If you’re reading my blog and you haven’t heard of this already you’re likely living under a rock. For the crag dwellers, here are the details of the deal as reported by various sites:
RHP Phillippe Aumont
OF Tyson Gillies
Player to be named later
Assistance with Halladay’s 2010 salary from Toronto
RHP Kyle Drabek
OF Michael Taylor
C Travis D’Arnaud
There are numerous ways to discuss this deal. I am going to touch on a couple. Namely, how this deal impacts Philadelphia and how this deal impacts Toronto.
Philadelphia has received the pitcher who many consider to be at least the best in the American League, if not the best pitcher in the Major Leagues altogether. Roy Halladay, who has dominated the big bats of the AL East (notable excellence against the Yankees, with a winning percentage above .750) stands to pitch even better against the senior league’s sluggers. Roy Halladay is a lock for NL Cy Young contention and is a better pitcher than Cliff Lee, whom the Phillies let go to Seattle for Halladay. Some may argue that Lee and Halladay are a wash due to their comparable numbers as of late, but Halladay gets the significant nod for pitching in the AL East, completing so many games, improving his strikeout numbers and for a decade of consistency.
The Phillies will miss two of their top prospects in Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek. This may hurt down the line, but the loaded Phillies are committed to win right now and they are taking the right steps to do it. Teams who are looking to rebuild need prospects to develop and fill holes. The Phillies have hardly any holes, at least none that Drabek or Taylor could fill in the near future, and as such this was an excellent move on their behalf.
The move is more complex to analyze from the Blue Jays perspective. The Jays will enter the 2010 season without a a real superstar. With Rios gone and Vernon Wells lagging there is nobody, aside from maybe Aaron Hill, to be a moral and statistical leader of the team. This will hurt both the locker room and ticket sales – which are bad regardless. As for the effect that Halladay’s departure will have on the team’s success, I’m less worried. Halladay had become, as a result of JP Riccardi’s ineptitude, an unnecessary luxury on an otherwise underachieving ball club.
The future, however, is bright in Toronto for the first time in years. While it is still to early to tell if D’Arnaud is destine for greatness, Drabek and Taylor are stars in the making. The 6’6″ Taylor is both quick and good with the bat. In the least he’ll be a high average corner outfielder. At best he’ll be a massive homerun hitter – he has shown significant power in the low level minors. To develop more fully Taylor will have to watch his weight and follow the guidance of his coaches to maximize his potential. Drabek on the other hand may be ready soon. He has dominated all levels of minor league batting and is poised to develop into a strikeout machine. One or both of these men may lead the Blue Jays into the next decade.
For the time being Toronto fans are asked to do what they have been doing for far to long; be patient. The new GM, however, seems committed to rebuild the team the right way in developing the farm team with high potential prospects. I can’t remember the last time I said something truly positive about a Blue Jays GM.
This is a quote from this week’s mailbag by staff writer Jordan Bastian over at bluejays.com:
“If the Blue Jays were in an all-out rebuilding mode, the club would
probably be interested in seeing what kind of package it could receive
for players such as Ryan, or even ace Roy Halladay. Toronto isn’t
looking to blow up its roster, though. Ricciardi believes his club is
in good shape to compete again in 2010.”
God Bless you JB for tolerating this sort of nonsense and making Riccardi seem remotely defensible. For us who have had to tolerate this kind of garbage for the better part of a decade the message needs to be clear; either you’re planning to compete, rebuilding or you’re deconstructing.
JP, however, has decided to ask the faithful in Toronto to help him place postage stamps on the 2009 season months before it begins, mail it in and look towards 2010. Regrettably by that time you’ll have lost so much of your fan support and sponsorship in the current financial climate that it will take whoever replaces you, Mr. Riccardi, another decade to make this team a competitor.
Here’s a thought, ownership; get rid of JP and whipe clean the front office and bring in someone who knows and who is used to winning. Then, watch the revenues come in! Toronto is a fair weather team. That means, though, that you have to win to produce fans.
Raul Ibanez recently signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Considering the Blue Jays failed attempt to nab the fielder in years passed this caused me to opine as to where our troubled general manager’s real talents lie.
Simply put, Riccardi the scout is monumentally more valuable than Riccardi the deal maker. Want proof?
As recently as 2001 Ibanez was a player mired in mediocrity, demoted to the minor leagues. What followed these stints was an excellent run of quietly successful years with the Royals and the Mariners (2004 excluded) in which Ibanez posted 89 or more rbi’s six times and batted at least .280 with at least a .345 batting average. Riccardi hunted Ibanez over three seasons, aware of his covert abilities.
Round about the same time we went after Burnett, Riccardi also sought to employ Matt Clement (whom we just signed to a minor league deal – talk about getting your milk when cow’s soured!!!). Sure, Clement proved to be an injury problem but in 2005 he was an allstar.
A year ago when JP went after Lincecum and Matt Cain from the Giants at the expense of the much beloved, regardless of logic, Alex Rios the fans in Toronto cried foul. Today, however, the trade would have been a celebrated victory. Lincecum won the Cy Young and Rios turned in a year of sheer middling.
There you have it people. Riccardi has an eye for talent. Despite his passing of Troy Tulowitzki (a friend of mine always reminds me that Ricky Romero was thought of as a don’t miss talent) Riccardi has also built our minor leagues and produced with his draft picks (Marcum, McGowan and Hill et al). But when it comes to making the deal, Riccardi falls short.
Forgive my lack of entries these days – I am bogged down with an exam season here at the University of Toronto that will see me hand in 7 things in 7 days.
Much a product of these stressful times, I’ve become sentimental. Here you go, Blue Jays faithful – praise for Riccardi.
It was reported by foxsports.com at just before 2 am last night that the Blue Jays had met with Rafael Furcal’s agents. In these troubling economic time the Blue Jays may be offering Furcal the stability of a multi year contract over the lure of a big, short term payoff. Given the state of financial matters these days I can understand the allure.
If you can’t spent with other teams, JP, you may as well offer something that other teams cannot – stability.
Sure, you may end up being burned, but there are few other options.
I would like to say something to the effect of “Really busy these days fellas, now back into the wonderful world of the Blue Jays!” In fact, I would settle for “The flu I had this weekend kept me down, sorry I didn’t write.” Regrettably, that is not the case. What do we have to stomach lately in the land of the Azure Birds? This.
The Jays wont go wild in this Winter. That’s fine, I can stomach that. Tell me, JP, that you don’t have the money. Tell me that all the free agents that are worth their weight are too expensive. Tell me that Uncle Ted has tightened the purse strings and, by proxy, your hands. Just don’t tell me that you’re planning on resigning AJ or that you’re going to fill the roster with washups, hasbeens and neverweres (Jose Bautista, Matt Stairs [sorry toronto fans, but his success was a fluke], Marco Scutaro, David Eckstein et all).
What do I want to hear?
JP: Thanks for having me on the Fan 590 tonight. Now, Blue Jay fans, due to the economic downturn the Jays are going to have to be fickle. To turn this squad around we’re going to cut our dead weight and start fresh. It may not take effect immidately, but leading up to the 2009 trade deadline all Blue Jays are available in trade talks. Everyone knows I love Oakland, now its time to start thinking like Billy Beane as opposed to taking his scrap heap junk and turning them into Blue Jays. And Like Oakland, we will soon see the light of the playoffs – you just may not recognize the squad.
Before reading my take, go over to ESPN.com to read Jerry Crasnick’s original piece
That will save me from having to quote directly!
Greetings faithful readers, Jays fans and baseball readers. It seems woefully apparent that our man JP Riccardi is far too cash conscious to dip into any big free agent pools (even with the likes of Manny Ramirez expressing interest in the Great White North). How do we solve this problem? Trade? Good luck getting much from our underperforming offense, and we need our arms if we’re going to compete post Burnett.
Solutions? Cheap free agents! Today I’ll reflect on three positions that the Jays need: pitcher, shortstop and power bat (any position) as they are represented in Crasnick’s article.
Regrettably Randy Johnson is not an option for the Jays. Despite his age and injury issues he managed to pitch in 30 games last season for 184 innings. A similar output in 2009 would make him an appealing option for the Jays who will need someone to eat up innings. What’s more is that Johnson would bring fans to the ballpark. Regrettably Johnson’s salary will likely be too high, even for JP who loves to focus on pitchers (In JP’s defense the rumoured trade of Lincecum for Rios of last offseason now looks like it would have been a gem!). On the other hand it is unlikely that Johnson would leave the West Coast.
With the defensively sound John MacDonald already playing the role of loveable middle infielder with almost no bat, there is little interest for a talent like the rapidly aging Omar Vizquel. ‘Nuff said.
Why oh why am I warming to the idea of going after Giambi? Despite what the fickle Riccardi has said, I would like to think that there’s still some chance that we’ll go after Giambi this year. Dave, that would produce a logjam at 1B/DH with Lind, Overbay and Giambi splitting time! No, it wouldn’t. Picking up Giambi would give us a solid option at DH from a guy who had an excellent OPS in 2008 and may benefit from the less intense Toronto market. That would allow us to trade Adam Lind for pitching – Lind’s value, as I have stated, will never be this high again. Slot Snyder in left and let Overbay try to prove himself – trading Overbay right now would be futile as his value is so low.
What the fans need to do:
Let JP know you’ll support his team if he puts one together. Increase his ticket sales if he brings in a good player. I, personally, am promising to support the team by purchasing the jersey of any big/valuable free agent that JP brings in that makes sense. I urge others to do the same!
The most recent ploy conjured by JP Riccardi to bring back AJ Burnett has been to promise him more years, albeit at a lower price. This ensures that AJ has a job in Major League Baseball until he is well into the twilight of his career making a respectively high salary.
I ask you, faithful readers, why? I sure sign of the trouble ahead came to me yesterday morning. The folks on TSN, our local sports network, commented that the Jays’ expected relative inactivity in the offseason would lead to another dissappointing season. When the mainstream media is making such claims, you know that the panic has passed beyond the speculative blogsphere and into the public’s conscious.
To be fair to JP, before I go any further, let’s review his situation. JP is saddled with the difficult task of managing a financial system where all our your salaries/expenses are in American funds but your revenues are in Canadian funds. With the dollar trading in Canada at .80 US the Jays stand to suffer somewhat (although not as bad as in the past).
JP also toils in the impossibly competitve and expensive AL East where the Yankees and Red Sox are bound to outclass the Jays and Orioles every year in spending.
JP has also received poor returns on most of the big free agent signings that he has made, being bitten by the injury bug one too many times.
On the converse. JP has been given a payroll of around 100 million dollars to deal with – a respectable sum even in today’s market.
JP has also had the benefit of good returns on some of the players he’s drafted (Hill, Marcum, McGowan, et all)
JP has ALSO been given an inordinate amount of time to construct a winning team and has not produced a squad who has faired any better than second place in the division. They Jays are literally no further ahead than they were when JP got here.
All common knowledge – what’s the point Byrne?
If JP can’t compete with the big guns in the AL East, which is obvious, and is gunshy about chasing any other free agents outside of Burnett this offseason – a fact that he has alluded to on a number of occasions – then there is no point in signing Burnett to a five year contract just to watch the Jays finish a couple of games over .500 every season and in third place in the East. What is more is that Burnett is absolutely untradeable if he’s having a bad season or two with three or four years left on a contract.
Let’s trade Halladay instead. I know, bloggers have come out against this idea a number of times. Even I would hate to see Halladay go. But let’s compare him with Toronto hockey star Mats Sundin. Leafs’ GM Cliff Fletcher begged Sundin to waive his no trade clause so that the Leafs could send Sundin to a playoff bound team in exchange for some excellent young players/draft picks. If Sundin had cared as much about the Leafs as he claimed he did he would have allowed a trade to happen, gone and played in the playoff and then returned to the Leafs in the offseason to help develop the youth movement.
Instead he hasn’t played yet this season, the Leafs missed the playoffs, and they likely will again this year.
Picture this – Halladay starts the year as a Jay. He plays his heart out, just as he always does, until the trade deadline. JP trades him for a number of prospects from a team who is making a play for the post season (Oakland, with whom JP has an almost too comfortable relationship with, may be this team), and the rebuilding era begins!
In a perfect world JP will be fired and a new GM steps in to oversee this phase. However, if the prospects turn out then JP’s legacy is increased monumentally – he becomes the former GM who made a trip to the playoffs possible by making an unpopular but wise decision.
You want Roy back? Sign him to a contract when he hits free agency, his contract will be up soon.
That’s my sollution, folks. Feel free to tear it apart.