Monday, June 8, 2009

The fall of the Blue Jays

Courtesy of MLBtraderumors.com, we hear that no one has yet tried to pry away Roy Halladay from our northern neighbors.

"Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported yesterday that no one's calling the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay. "We haven't gotten one call," Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said.

It's not for a lack of interest- Halladay became the first ten-game winner in the majors yesterday and he leads the AL in innings pitched and strikeout to walk ratio. He's been a top-five Cy Young finisher each of the last three years and while he makes a lot of money, he's hardly overpaid at $14.25MM this year and $15.75MM next. Ricciardi's not fielding calls, because the Jays are 32-27, just two games back of the Yankees in the AL East. Ricciardi believes the Jays need Halladay for them to win.

"We're not going to be a playoff team without Roy Halladay."

Ricciardi repeated that he does not expect to trade Halladay and plans to work on an extension with him after the season."

Ricciardi is absolutely correct here. The Blue Jays, minus Roy Halladay, would be destined to fight it out with the Orioles for 4th place in the AL East, behind the financial behemoth Yankees and Red Sox, and the talented young Rays. The trouble is, he's implying that the Blue Jays will in fact be a playoff team with Doc leading the staff, which is a tough stance to defend. PECOTA currently pegs the Blue Jays a 9% chance to make the playoffs this year, behind the Yanks (84%), Red Sox (75%), and Rays (26%).

It's very hard to imagine a situation in the next 3 years where the Blue Jays could crack through to the Wild Card or AL East crown, given the minor league systems of the three teams ahead of them, as well as their current talent. Roy Halladay is 32 years old--he's absolutely killing it these days, but let's be clear. Three years from now, he's going to be either on, or beginning, the slide down to becoming a lesser pitcher. That lesser pitcher will very likely still be one of the better arms in the league--but for his window to be the ace that leads a team to the title is closing.

So, my question to you--is it worth it to the Blue Jays to hold on to their ace, and the face of their franchise (so much for Vernon Wells, right?) to compete for 4th and possibly 3rd place for the next three years, rather than trading him for a veritable treasure trove of prospects that will help the Blue Jays in the future when they're not sequestered behind 3 superior teams?

Essentially, all the Jays are doing is ensuring that they have a worse draft pick. I know that's harsh--especially speaking about a team that started out this season as baseball's best team, but the numbers just don't add up for the Blue Jays this year.

You know who needs a bigtime starting pitcher, and has shown the willingness to move premium talent for it in the past? The Brewers. The Mets would also probably fall all over themselves to acquire Halladay (though it's doubtful whether they have the chips at this point). The Phillies could look to acquire him as well--and imagine how high a bidding war between the Mets and Phils for Halladay would go? Whichever team acquired him would have made themselves favorites (and possibly prohibitive favorites) to win that division.

But then again, that's far too logical to happen.

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