Monday, July 20, 2009
Updated: July 21, 10:11 AM ET
Phillies must make trade for Halladay
There were three Dodgers scouts in Toronto on Sunday, along with Pat Gillick from the Phillies, Gord Ash from the Brewers and a Red Sox delegation. Not that anyone really has to see any more of Roy Halladay and his incredible 90-92 mph cutter that many confuse as a fastball. And the Dodgers were also in Toronto to look at Manny Delcarmen and Jason Frasor for their beleaguered bullpen.
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said Sunday that he doesn't think things will heat up on the Halladay front until the end of this week. Ricciardi made it clear to the Yankees and Red Sox that he would have to get a lot more from them than a National League team, and, right now, it is unlikely that either the Yankees or the Red Sox will stay in it. The Dodgers will take on Halladay's salary, but do not have the young major league-ready players that the Phillies have in Michael Taylor, Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and Jason Knapp.
"The general feeling is that he won't be traded," said one GM. "The Phillies are the only reasonable expectation, but the way [the NL East] has folded, they know they're going to win the division."
One could argue that the Phillies have a chance to win three straight World Series (if the Phils acquire Halladay, they would have him under contract for the rest of this season along with the entire 2010 campaign) -- and make Cole Hamels even better. But whether they'll do it is up in the air.
In many ways, Toronto has to get the deal done before the deadline, because if Ricciardi is going to move Halladay, he will also explore deals for Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro, Frasor and Alex Rios. In the case of Scutaro, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, he leads all major league shortstops in defensive factors and leads the American League in pitches seen.
One player does make a huge difference. Alex Rodriguez recently said, "If the Red Sox had signed Mark Teixeira, there'd be no race." We don't know what happened when Boston's ownership met with Teixeira, but the meeting changed everything about the relationship GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona had built with Teixeira. When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman offered Teixeira $180 million, he was a Yankee. If Teixeira were with Boston, the difference would be worth 10 games in the standings.
As good and deep as the Red Sox pitching is right now, their offense is taking on water. They are third in the AL East in runs scored and OPS, behind the Yankees and Rays. More disturbing, the Red Sox's team OPS has gone down every month this season. Their on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot is an abymal .309, which, coupled with .309 out of the ninth spot, kills them in front of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. The fact that Jason Bay is hitting .214 since the start of June hasn't helped, not with the added pressure his agent has incurred by asking for a Teixeira-like deal.
Mike Lowell and David Ortiz play their souls out, but Lowell's hip restricts his speed. So Boston probably has to get a bat before the July 31 trade deadline passes. A's GM Billy Beane will move Matt Holliday (he's pushing hard for a trade involving Orlando Cabrera in order to get Cliff Pennington up and playing shortstop for Oakland), but he may not be a fit for Boston unless Bay were to leave as a free agent. Nick Johnson is available, but is also a health risk. Rios and Victor Martinez are discussion points for several teams, as is Jorge Cantu. Considering Boston's young pitching and the Padres' lack of it (although 21-year-old right-hander Mat Latos threw 96 mph Sunday), a multi-prospect deal for Adrian Gonzalez makes sense for both teams. The Padres' ownership is worried about the public perception if the team were to trade away Gonzalez. Fans? What fans?
The Dodgers will acquire pitching. The Giants will get a bat. Florida may get a closer. The Cubs will also do something.
From this view, however, Halladay isn't like anyone else. If the Phillies get to the World Series for three straight years, it will be the greatest run in franchise history. And, sorry, there's only one Roy Halladay. If you can't pay for him with Kyle Drabek, try Visa.