An Expensive Halladay
By Jeff Falconio
A week from now the Roy Halladay Sweepstakes will be over. Where will the most sought after starting pitcher wind up for the final two months of the season? Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi set a July 28 deadline to make a deal, presumably so Halladay can make his scheduled July 29 start. So, what exactly will it take to land the biggest fish in an otherwise shallow pool of talent?
Apparently, quite a lot. A few weeks back when the Blue Jays announced they'd be willing to deal the two teams that emerged were the Cardinals and Angels. But now with less than a week left the Angels are out of the running and the Cards don't appear to be a strong suitor. Philadelphia is now the front runner but the Phillies are putting some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the NL East. Why not pull the trigger if you're the defending champions looking to pile on?
From the start Toronto has made clear they want top-notch prospects. What's interesting is that recently Major League Baseball has gotten much younger. The Yankees method of loading up on overpriced aging veterans doesn't produce championships, even for the free-spending Yanks. With the success of teams like the Brewers and Twins, teams are relying more on developing young talent. Teams are now reluctant to give up the future for a rent-a-player (though Halladay does have a year left on his contract.)
Philadelphia is already fairly young, so why mortgage the future for a title you can win without Halladay? The Los Angeles Dodgers, also a front runner, are in the same boat. The Dodgers are young and building on last year's run to the NLCS. One look at the standings and you have to wonder why L.A. would be willing to deal when they're loaded everywhere.
Ricciardi himself acknowledged that at this point a deal isn't likely and it doesn't appear that the Blue Jays will lower their demands for Halladay. Welcome to the new world order of July baseball. The go-for-it mentality the Brewers had last year is becoming a rare sight. All the teams that have expressed interest in Halladay are contenders but no one wants to shoot for the moon if it means mortgaging the future. There's even more risk involved when you start talking about re-signing a guy. There have been enough mega-contract flops like Barry Zito to scare teams away from putting all the eggs in one basket. It's more likely that as we get close to July 31 mid-level players like Adam LaRoche will get dealt while big ticket players like Halladay stay put.