Tuesday, November 24, 2009


... of the line in the Roy Halladay sweep-stakes.
While much of the speculation has been on which arm they may throw Toronto's way, with the likes of Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders leading the way, its also who would be the 2nd piece to the puzzle that should be key.
The main piece could be Santana, who'll be due $6 million next season in just the 2nd year of a 4-year, $30M deal (plus a club option); those numbers are palatable when considering that Halladay's final year calls for $15.75m this coming season. It would probably mean that the club would also speed up its efforts to dump Lyle Overbay (due $7m). Both Weaver and Saunders are up for new deals after earning nearly half-a-mill each last year.
This is a revisitation of a prior exchange where ex-Jay gm JP Ricciardi was trying to pry one of Weaver and Saunders, outfield prospect Peter Bourjos and shortstop Erick Aybar from the Angels arms. I'm wondering if new Toronto gm Alex Anthopolous is more amenable to taking Santana or Weaver, shortstop/third baseman Brandon Wood and one of shortstop Rolando Gomez or lefthander Alex Torres.
While carving the budget deep is the prime motive, the Blue Jays need to have some MLB ready players to keep them competitive -- but not too competitive (because having a few terrible seasons with great draft picks would turn the team around faster than trying to stay afloat while your divisional rivals (Boston, Baltimore and NY) go on spending spree after spending spree.
Wood is drastically in need of a change of address, as Angels manager Mike Soscia has shown no faith in the minor league bopper. The 24 year old Wood has done all he can in the minors and needs a steady opportunity to take the next step -- but Soscia is no fan.
While the rumours of a Dodger-Jays deal have died down, they likely spiked the Angels attention. The Dodgers would be willing to part with arbitration eligible and Canadian catcher Russell Martin and James McDonald, but are not going to give up a Billingsley in any swap.
Now internet chatter is picking up the idea of Toronto trying to lure outfielder Jason Bay north. Martin would be a better catch as he's younger, plays a more critical position and is, at least for now, considerably cheaper. He's also a proud Canadian, unlike the greedy Bay.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Are we down to the final days as a Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay?
Last year's poorly executed tease, which played a role in the firing of GM JP Ricciardi, is now on an escalated time frame, with Halladay entering the final year of his 3 year, $40M contract signed in 2008.
The same players are likely measuring their cupboards to see just how deep into the talent pool they can go, and whether or not Toronto's new GM Alex Anthopoulos is able to be had.
The Blue Jays want to save money, but they also need to instill confidence in the fan base that the deal will play a big part of a better future in 2, 3 to 5 years from now. Which means the names being bandied about for a return on Doc will include some major-league ready and many still climbing out of the lower minors.
Both New York teams, the Yankees and the Mets, desperately want in on the deal; so too do the Boston Red Sox. Southern California suitors the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are also in the mix; surprisingly enough, neither the San Francisco Giants nor the Chicago Cubs are expected to get past the second round of bidding.
Here's my view, being that Halladay will be wearing new colours before mid-December arrives.
New York Yankees could put together the best offer, starting with either Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain, and including outfielder Austin Jackson and RH David Phelps. The New York Mets, however, are rumoured to be trying to avoid costly additions - and have shown no inclination to part with two of outfielder Fernando Martinez, shortstop Wilmer Flores and RH Jenrry Mejia.
The Red Sox, who are just as motivated to keep the Yankees from adding Halladay to their pricey rotation as to having him for themselves, could knock Toronto's socks off with a pitch of RH Clay Buchholz, Kyle Weiland and Will Middlebrooks.
The LA Dodgers, meanwhile, have reportedly put RH Chad Billingsley's name on the table, and could clinch a deal if they added inf. Ivan DeJesus Jr and RH Steve Johnson in the mix. If I were AA and knowing the Dodgers' aversion to taking on too much salary (especially with a messy divorce tying up the owners' money) I'd pitch the thought of Billingsley, arbitration eligible and Canadian catcher Russell Martin and DeJesus for Halladay and nearly-ready JP Arencibia... the Dodgers could then use some money to get one of the Molina brothers for the next year and be ready for another playoff run. Toronto, meanwhile, will have acquired a great catcher and pitcher plus some means to market their rebuilding program.
The Angels aren't likely to get in the bidding, having little depth left in their minor system. The Giants, however, could easily rise to the top if it were willing to send LH Madison Baumgarner and teenage OF Rafael Rodriguez... but they won't.
For Cub fans, the yearning for a real ace will probably have to wait a little longer. New ownership may want to make a big splash, and they have the talent too, but it seems when they need to make a major deal like this one, they shoot themselves in the foot by signing a lughead instead. Apologies to Milton Bradley the game producer. But an offering of RH Jeff Samardzija, ss Starlin Castro and 3b Jovan Rosa would pique everyone's interest.

Two other teams worth mentioning -- despite the unlikelihood of them getting involved.
Unfortunately for Atlanta Braves fans, while the prospects are there the money isn't. The Braves would emerge as one of the frontrunners if they were willing to take on Halladay's salary, if they were able to off-load Derek Lowe's remaining 3-year, 15m per mistake. With a reasonable core and one last kick at the can for Bobby Cox, Atlanta would be a top contender with Halladay, Vazquez, Hanson, Hudson, Kawakami, Jurrjens taking turns on the mound -- heck, even if they had to also dump Vazquez's contract (a palatable $11.5m in the final year) it would be pretty strong. And what would the Braves need to offer? My guess a package that included outfielder Jordan Schafer (they've got Heyward who's a better prospect, anyways), and lefties Cole Rohrbough and Edgar Osuna would get the Jays' attention.
Then there are the Seattle Mariners. Their surprise push last year for a playoff spot, and the presence of King Felix, means they could feel that now is their time. With Bedard, Beltre and Jojima off the books they've also got cap space -- but a lot of holes, too. Toronto would have to give some consideration to an offer of RH Brandon Morrow, RH Quebecer Phillippe Aumont and 3b Mario Martinez.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It is the off-season, afterall. So the Seattle Mariners are predictably in the thick of the pennant race and have reason to believe that Jack Z's artful skill at the winter meetings and at the draft table will pay off.
Rumours of a John Lackey signing were given a dose of cold water by LaRue at the Times Tribune; the team's holes at third and first and catcher, along with that need for one solid veteran starter is likely the primary focus.
I wasn't crazy about resigning of the Kid, but in the whole scheme of things it isn't a kick in the teeth, either. Beltre's likely departure along with Branyan will leave a power hole the size of the Space Needle. The young guns on the mound may be able to build on last year's effort, but so much was smoke and mirrors.
So as bloggers are wont to do, I shall speculate.
Beltre won't get what he would have two years ago but should be happy in Philadelphia, LA or St. Louis (at about 4 years/$75m). Would it be such a stretch to plug Hall into that spot? While keeping Branyan would be great, logic and $ must line up. It may be better to move to plan 2, with Lopez sliding in at his more comfortable defensive position, having Carp as a capable backup. Now comes the interesting step. I would pack Brendan Morrow and his great potential to Florida for Dan Uggla, he of the mediocre defence but terrific pop. He'd just be trading one 'M' for a better one.
The Marlin infielder is due a raise and thus is also due a ticket out of Miami, but has stated that he doesn't think he should move off 2nd base. That knocks some of the more logical fits -- Baltimore, Philadelphia -- out of the mix. Of course, that requires Hall filling the bill in the corner, which could also give Seattle one of the shakier infield defences this side of Everett.
But maybe Jack's issue with defence makes the previous suggestion null and void. It could mean bidding on Pedro Feliz or Joe Crede with short term dollars, while hoping Matt T makes more progress. Orlando Hudson would be an upgrade over Lopez defensively... Tapping a partner for Moore behind the dish should be a matter of taking the more eager of Barajas, Blanco or Zaun.
If you want to make an impact pitching-wise, call up Boston and ask if Dice-K is available. Taking on his salary would be a risk and may not be attainable -- trading Silva and Morrow while getting a B-level prospect back in return would make it a decent swap IMHO. Or it could be a matter of signing a Harden or a Sheets and hoping for a non-Bedard-like health. And then, with Junior in the fold for one more hurrah, why not call up the Unit and see if he want's to relive some of his past glory?