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Past Tomfoolery May Affect Halladay Deal

Yesterday, Toronto Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi was a guest on ESPN's "Rome Is Burning." On the show, host Jim Rome peppered Ricciardi with questions about the status of a potential Roy Halladay trade.

When asked about what it would take for a team to land the Toronto ace, Ricciardi admitted that it would take something similar to the package the Orioles received two offseasons ago for starter Erik Bedard. Ricciardi accurately pointed out that Halladay is a better pitcher than Bedard but, while this is true, the line of reasoning does not make complete sense.

The Orioles dealt Bedard to the Seattle Mariners before the 2008 season and received in return five players. Through that haul, Baltimore picked up an all-star outfielder (Adam Jones), an all-star closer (George Sherrill), a young reliever (Kam Mickolio) and a hot, young starting pitcher (Chris Tillman).

This trade was viewed as foolhardy at the time and pretty much idiotic now as the orchestrator of the move on Seattle's end - General Manager Bill Bavasi - got canned before last year's all-star break. Now Ricciardi wants to be on the winning end of such a deal.

However, this seems unlikely as the Bedard trade never should have been made, which makes Ricciardi's theoretical trade demands fairly unrealistic. Yes, Halladay is better than Bedard but that doesn't mean a dumb deal should serve as a baseline for future negotiations.

Ironically, it is this same line of reasoning that has backed general managers into corners during free agency for years. A free agent will seek a huge contract comparing themselves to another player of equal or lesser value then demand a contract of equal or greater value. Again, because one team was crazy enough to acquiesce to the demands, dominoes are set in motion. The difference this time is that it's a GM looking to use such specious reasoning.

Add to this the fact that the Blue Jays don't have to trade Halladay (he has one more year on his contract) and the team can afford to charge such a large ransom though they might not get what they're seeking before the team's self-imposed July 28 deadline.

Perhaps I'm in the minority here, what do you guys think? Should Ricciardi expect such an impressive bounty for Halladay?

By CJ Holley  |  July 23, 2009; 12:04 PM ET
Categories:  Blue Jays , Mariners , Orioles  | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Roy Halladay, Seattle Mariners, j.p. ricciardi, toronto blue jays, trade  
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Interesting. Two additional facts make the Bedard trade look bad. first, Bedard had an injury history, so it should not have been a shock that they were not getting a 200+ inning horse. Second, Seattle made the trade thinking they were a step from contending because they were deceived by their success in 2007. Better home work would have helped them with both problems.

Another way to look at the Bedard deal is to say that the Ms gave up an older but team controlled middle reliever, a prospect with a bit of tarnish do to weak numbers on his intial call up (think Lastings without the attitude), a high upside A ball pitcher, and another minor league arm who would be nothing more than a reliever.

While Halladay has been on the DL this year and last, I don't believe he has had the arm history that Bedard has. Any contender should be on more solid grounds to push for this year than the Ms were last. Both of those factors should make him more valuable than Bedard. Ricciardi could also point to a somewhat lesser haul that the Indians got for CC last year, and argue Halladay should fetch more in return because there is team control for next year.

A reasonable return would be somewhere between the two deals, probably closer to the CC deal. Ricciardi may be saying, in effect, the only way I trade Halladay is if you blow me away with an offer I'd be dumb to turn down.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 23, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nice article. Quite suprising coming from the Wa Post. Unlike many of my Phillies Phan brethren (see comments) who want to give up the store for Halladay, I'm in 100% agreement with you. Especially since the team that's rumored to want him the most is my team the Phightins'. Although Halladay is better than Bedard the points about him having another year on his Jays contract and the idiot deal that Seattle made giving up a terrific player like Jones are spot on. This point you make gets to the gist of why some teams do poorly - " is this same line of reasoning that has backed general managers into corners during free agency for years." The asking price from the Phils is Drabek and Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor - Riccardi's not kidding anyone. BTW, if you think Adam Jones is something wait until you see Taylor and Brown. Drabek is so young and so talented that giving him up would be mortgaging the future for the Phils staff with Moyer and even possibly Myers being odd men out next year. Why do that when - You're winning!!! Last I checked the Phils were comfortably in 1st and the pitching has solidified. In fact I look for Hamels to come on strong the rest of the year. These are not the Gillick Jays anymore (Gillick's one of us now that's why we won). Nice work CJ

Posted by: billm32 | July 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Well said, billm32.

The Jays should have jumped on this deal about three weeks ago before the Phils ripped off 10 straight wins. Around July 4th, the Phils were desperate for pitching help - hence the Pedro signing - and barely above .500 with the slimmest of leads in the division. Now, the Phils look totally dominant, the staff has in face come together, Pedro is a few weeks out, and it looks like Myers will be returning in a bullpen role - which could really fire up the rest of the guys in the pen.

The Phils now hold the cards in any potential deal with the Jays. I hope we make them a decent offer, but Drabek and Happ should be nowhere near the bargaining table.

Did Ricciardi just totally blow their chances of dealing Doc? I think so. Thank you for illustrating why a team like the Phils should not give away the farm for Halladay.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | July 23, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I remember the trade. It was not viewed as completely one sided at the time. After all, the Ms were picking up a young #1 starter. Those aren't ever available for anything less than a king's ransom. Why would they be?

Posted by: LouisTheRogue | July 23, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the deal should not be so bountiful as that one, but I don't believe it has to be or will be. I do think the Phillies are more likely than not to pull off a deal for Halladay, but I don't think it will be a foolish one. What I do think is foolish is all the adamant statements about not "mortgaging the future", a meaningless phrase if I've ever heard one. I hear people say this in reference to Kyle Drabek, when they have never seen him throw a single pitch. Who says he's the Phillies future? He might have a great career ahead of him (though you don't even know that), but that doesn't mean you've given away your future if you trade him. Ditto for Taylor or Brown for that matter. Did Boston "mortgage their future" when they traded Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett? No, I think they won a world series.

The Phillies have lots of talent in their farm system, and they have done a good job of drafting in recent years. Part of the reason you have prospects is to trade them for more established talent. The Phillies are in a perfect position to do just that, and they have a good reason to: there's a difference between winning now and winning in October. The Phillies are not Seattle - they obviously can win it all. But this is not your 2008 pitching staff either; there are a number of holes in it. A lot had to go exactly right for the Phillies to win last year, including a lot of luck. Acquiring Roy Halladay goes a long way to increasing their chances without having to depend on all that luck. That's why you do it, even if it involves Drabek.

Posted by: rlf33 | July 23, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

This is not unlike when the Lions got a first-, third- and sixth-round pick for WR Roy Williams from the Cowboys, and then better WRs who were on the block (Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards) couldn't command that because GMs realized the Cowboys overpaid.

I think with the team that the Phillies have, in reference to the post above, where they could win this year and/or next and/or the one after that, that you do what it takes to get Halladay.

The ultimate goal is to win, and Halladay is not slowing down, he could pitch two, maybe four more years at his level or something close to it. Clemens and Randy Johnson pitched 10+ years after their initial teams let them go.

I think there's time for the Phillies to restock the farm system before the Howard/Utley/Rollins/Victorino window closes, and they have two good young starters (Hamels and Happ) to put behind Halladay ... and maybe in front of Pedro Martinez.

They should trade the Jays anything they want not at the major league level.

Posted by: KeithMcMillan | July 24, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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