It’s O-Phil-cial: Roy Halladay Now a Philadelphia Philly

December 17, 2009

by !an Hunter… At one press conference, the Philadelphia Phillies were celebrating the dawn of a new era with the best pitcher in baseball. At another, the Blue Jays were lamenting the loss of their franchise player.

It was a sad day for Toronto Blue Jays fans—for the past five months, we had been expecting this day to come, but I don’t think any of us could have prepared ourselves for the heartache that came along with letting go of Roy Halladay.

After watching today’s press conference, there is reason to believe there is a lot of hope for this franchise moving forward. AA kept a very positive tone this afternoon and did a good job of providing the answers that everyone was looking for.

One phrase that Anthopoulos used quite frequently was “young, controllable players.”

Obviously, this is what the Blue Jays were seeking, and is the reason why they didn’t go for a deal with the Los Angeles Angels involving players like Eric Aybar and Mike Napoli. While being good players, they could either potentially walk in just a few seasons or command quite hefty contracts.

Also, by trading for players with major league experience, you already have a relatively good idea of what their ceiling is and what to expect from them in the future. Whereas with highly-touted prospects, their potential is nearly unlimited.

It’s refreshing to see a general manager who understands the value in having a player under team control for six seasons, rather than a free agent who can command colossal amounts of money and just walk away at the end of their contract.

Expectations will be undoubtedly high on the players the Blue Jays received in return: Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace, and Travis D’Arnaud. I don’t think we should bank on any of these guys being the next Roy Halladay, however there is a great deal of potential and promise in each of them.

Even if just one of them turns out of be a success, the Roy Halladay trade would have been all worth it.

Let the Roy Halladay Heartache Begin for Blue Jays Fans

December 16, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Dec. 14, 2009 will be forever remembered as the day that theToronto Blue Jays parted ways with one of their greatest players in franchise history.

As I dry off my keyboard from the river of tears, rest assured that it’s not easy to see Roy Halladay traded to thePhiladelphia Phillies in a reported three-team trade involving the Jays, Phils, and Mariners.

The writing was on the wall for this deal since July, yet all the time in the world couldn’t prepare us for what was to happen yesteday.

Just as Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew said… Roy Halladay leaving the Blue Jays was inevitable, but sure doesn’t make things any easier.

The worst part of it all is that the man behind the curtain, Alex Anthopoulos, is not available to comment on these trade talks for the next few days. I realize that AA wants to get his facts straight and cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s before going public, but wouldn’t it be better to give the fans either a yes or no answer before heading into your Fortress of Solitude?

Come on, Alex—it’s the least you could do after the biggest trade in the franchise’s history.

In the meantime, I will mourn the loss of the best pitcher in baseball and wish Doc the very best in his future endeavours. Suddenly, that June 25 Interleague weekend series against the Phillies at the Rogers Centre just became much more interesting. Even though it will be in a different uniform, I’ll look forward to seeing Halladay back in Toronto.

I wish no ill will towards Roy Halladay and am certain he will see continued success with the Phillies carving up those hapless National League hitters.

At the end of all of this, when Doc has won another three Cy Young awards and is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I hope he looks back on his time in Toronto with fond memories…because I always will.

Regardless of which cap and jersey Halladay will be wearing from here on out, as far as I’m concerned, he will always be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Start working on that “Level of Excellence” induction ceremony, boys.

D-Day for Jose Bautista

December 12, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Members of the Bautista Appreciation Society , buckle yourselves in, because the next 24 hours could be a bumpy ride.

We will learn by 11:59 pm on Saturday evening whether or not the Blue Jays will offer Bautista a contract and thus avoid arbitration.

Reading around the Blue Jays blogosphere and glancing through the papers, the consensus is that the Jays will in fact non-tender Bautista, as he would become way too expensive as a utility infielder/outfielder.

If Bautista were to be assigned as a full-time third baseman or left fielder, the Blue Jays could easily justify spending $3 million per year.

Judging by the 30 percent raise Jose received last year, one could guesstimate that he might make upwards of $3.12 million in 2010.

However, contract offers might possibly excel far beyond $3 million per year according to Bautista’s FanGraphs page . While his value is ranked a little astronomical at $8.4 million, Jose could viably fetch a decent amount on the free agent market as he upped his WAR to 1.9 in 2009.

That’s the thing about Jose Bautista—he could literally fit in on any team, in almost any position. Bautista is the proverbial Swiss Army Knife in the lineup.

Unfortunately as with any mighty titan, he has an Achilles heel…and that is right-handed pitching. His .202 batting average against righties is his kryptonite and a huge stumbling block for an everyday player.

Some promising news from the Winter Meetings—Cito Gaston said he might try using Bautista as a leadoff hitter against left-handed pitchers next season.

This is a very rare occasion where I actually agree that Cito is on to something; Bautista’s .382 on base percentage speaks volumes, but ONLY against right handers.

Of course, I don’t want to think that September 2009 was just an anomaly, but damn … Jose raked during the last month of the season. I start salivating when I look back at his September statistics and see those 10 home runs and .944 OPS.

We’ve seen Bautista at his worst and his best, but if September was any indication of what he’s capable of, he’s damn scary at his best.

I know $3 million seems like a lot of money, and it is (especially when you only have an $80 million dollar payroll to work with), but considering how many uncertainties there will be with this team on the field next season, it would be nice to have the stability and flexibility of Jose Bautista on the roster.

With a starting rotation with a core that is fairly young, the Blue Jays will need all the defense they can get to support their young starters.

And Jose Bautista is a solid defensive player who is always a threat to gun down runners from the outfield or merely keep the ball in the infield.

So should the Jays let Bautista go? No way, Jose.

The defense rests its case.

Day One rumblings at Winter Meetings, With Focus on Roy Halladay!

December 8, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Most of this information is based off of , but it sounds like Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays crew are basically sitting back and letting other clubs come to them when it comes to trade offers for Roy Halladay.

“Jays GM is limiting the number of people in his suite for any talks. one-on-one or two-on-two discussions only. One way to limit leaks to the media.”

Note that this is almost the exact opposite strategy used by J.P. Ricciardi when he was shopping Roy Halladay at the trade deadline. AA wants to keep any potential deals close to his chest and not reveal them to the media unless they are absolutely certain a trade will be made.

Speaking of Halladay trade talk, claims that the Angels are back in the hunt for Doc.

“Angels will play for Halladay. But only if he’ll agree to sign long term. Joe Saunders possible bait.”

Any sort of decent player package including major league talent would obviously have to include some sort of contract extension negotiations for Halladay. Personally, I am not crazy about Joe Saunders—would much rather prefer someone like Jered Weaver or Ervin Santana, but the asking price is likely too high.

Finally, other piece of news that affects the Blue Jays somewhat—Rod Barajas is expected to decline arbitration from the Blue Jays. No real surprise here…the bigger surprise is the lack of talk from other teams about signing Rod Barajas.

As far as the catcher’s position is concerned, he provides a decent amount of pop, however clubs could be avoiding that .258 OBP like the plague.

Unfortunately, not much flash or drama from day one of baseball’s winter meetings—the big announcement that Will Carroll alluded to on Twitter over the weekend was that Bloomberg is going to be involved with stat tracking in MLB . It’s not necessarily mind-blowing news to the average fan, but apparently it will have a huge impact for those within the industry.

Doc Halladay’s Demands

December 2, 2009

by Ian Hunter… When it comes to off-field distractions, Roy Halladay would prefer not to deal with the drama.

ESPN’s Buster Olney spoke with one of Halladay’s reps and said that if Roy Halladay is still with the Blue Jays next season, he will veto any trades after Spring Training and will therefore fly the coop as a free agent

Part of me wants to believe that it’s just Halladay’s agents who are trying to stir the pot and get the check-books of the Yankees and the Red Sox warmed up for the impending bidding war. Alex Anthopolous says he hasn’t heard this from the horse’s mouth or spoken to Halladay’s representatives directly, so one can only guess the validity of this claim.

If this statement is in fact true, is it really all that surprising?

From the All-Star game until the July 31 trade deadline, all eyes in baseball were on Roy Halladay. Up until that point, Halladay’s biggest audience was the handful of Toronto sports writers…then the Ken Rosenthal article dropped and all hell broke loose.

We learned one important thing during that storm of trade talk and rumours—Halladay does not want to experience that ever again.

Speaking to the media and fielding questions day after day was not part of his routine, and whether or not he wants to admit it, maybe all that attention threw him off his game a little bit.

Some might say that Halladay’s alleged declaration decreases his trade value, but I think it actually increases it. If teams were banking on picking up Doc at the trade deadline as a rental, they now have to re-think their strategies and determine whether they have the resources to trade for him prior to Spring Training 2010.

For Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s either now or never—trade Roy Halladay or watch him leave uncontested, just like Carlos Delgado did in 2004.

While it would be excruciatingly difficult to see Roy Halladay just walk away from this organization as a free agent, Halladay and his agents have all the power and the Blue Jays are simply at their mercy.

I just hope that Halladay take it easy on Jays.

The Blue Jays’ Man Behind the Curtain Goes to Work

November 11, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Occasionally it’s best not to know what’s going on behind the scenes. During last season, the disarray and inner workings of the Blue Jays organization were revealed for all to see. Unfortunately. Now Alex Anthopoulos has the dubious task of taking his place behind the curtain and starting the magical Oz machine once again.

Anthopoulos didn’t waste any time this during this relatively busy weekend. First, there was the “state of the franchise” conference call on Saturday. Lately there’s been rumblings about the Jays wanting to trade Lyle Overbay to the D-Backs for Chris Snyder.

According to the Arizona Public , trade talks were well underway but were put to a halt when the Jays realized that Snyder’s back wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (sorry…I couldn’t help myself).

It appears as though A.A. is making good on his word that he would be active in the trade market this off-season. The wheels are already set in motion because a move like this would benefit the team two-fold:

  1. Without any other major injuries from Snyder, the Blue Jays would have a full-time catcher until the end of 2011. Hopefully by then, J.P. Arencebia will have made his triumphant debut and will be well on his way to becoming the future star-catcher of this team.
  2. Trading Overbay also sets in motion a search for a long-term first baseman. It sounds like A.A. does not want to move Adam Lind to first base, no matter what (even though the move makes perfect sense). This must mean that he’s working on something else entirely to bring in a long-term first-baseman. Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

Moving on to the other big deal that didn’t happen late last week…it appeared as though the Blue Jays all but missed the boat on the J.J. Hardy trade, and that the Minnesota Twins cashed in on this blog’s biggest man-crush.

Little did we know, Anthopoulos was apparently working behind the scenes and the Blue Jays were one of the teams in the hunt , according to Jeff Blair. Reports indicate that it would’ve taken Adam Lind or Travis Snider to land J.J. Hardy. If that’s true then it’s no surprised the Jays balked at that proposed deal.

Maybe most surprising of all is that Russell Martin is another name being tossed around as a possible replacement behind the backstop for the Blue Jays.

Martin could be an integral piece of a trade with the Dodgers which might ship Roy Halladay to Los Angeles. This is a theoretical trade, but since this is just a sliver of information that’s been leaked out, who knows what A.A. could be cooking up.

Whether or not any trades come to fruition this week at the General Manager’s meetings, it’s refreshing to see a GM take a different approach with this ballclub. Although it’s uncertain how this team will finish in 2010 or even 2011, I am confident that Alex Anthopoulos is putting together a winning team.

In the meantime, may he work his magic from behind the curtain and hopefully he won’t come back out unless he has something spectacular to show us.

The Yankees as World Champions: bad for baseball?

November 7, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Yesterday the Yankees enjoyed a lavish ticker-tape parade down Broadway Avenue celebrating their 27th World Series Championship. While most folks in New York came out in droves to celebrate, the rest of the baseball world basically rolled their eyes and said “not again”.

After watching the continued success of the New York Yankees as the most financially driven team in MLB, it begs the question - are the New York Yankees as World Series Champions bad for baseball?

In a word … yes.

It’s not just because I’m a bitter Blue Jays fan that hasn’t tasted the victory of playoff baseball for sixteen years either. There are 29 teams in baseball I would rather see hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy above their heads other than the New York Yankees.

So here are a few of my reasons in no particular order why I think the Yankees as World Champions are sending the wrong message.

1.) Team payrolls across the MLB are bound to go up

Whether it’s predetermined or not, it seems like teams subconsciously emulate the formula of the previous World Series Champions. In the case of the New York Yankees, most clubs will probably take after their model which is “sign the best free agents at any price, so long as it means winning”.

This means guys like Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and John Lackey are going to rake in especially fat contracts this off-season. It also sends the message that money equals success, almost the exact polar opposite from the Tampa Bay Rays model which was build a team from the minor league system upwards.

2.) It makes even more free agents want to flock to NY

I’m sure a large part of the reason why Pedro Martinez and Raul Ibanez signed with the Philadelphia Phillies was because they had a fairly good shot at winning another championship in Philly. For free agents that are getting close to the end of their careers and want an almost-guaranteed shot at the post-season, they will likely be seeking to sign with the New York Yankees.

3.) It doesn’t promote home-grown talent

There was a lot of hype surrounding the “core four” of Jeter, Rivera, Posada and Pettite that have stuck with this organization since (almost) day one. Aside from those four guys, most of their roster spots are occupied by players acquired via trades or free agent signings (only ten in total came up through the Yankees organization).

The Yankees aren’t notorious for drafting and developing great players, they are known for signing other team’s great players. I realize it’s all fair in love and baseball, but it feels like the Yankees would rather build a winning team with their pocketbook rather than their minor league system.

Again, let me reiterate that I’m not bitter and jaded (okay … maybe a little) that the team I cheer for wasn’t number one this year. However, I would have been happy to see the Phillies win the World Series. I would have been thrilled to see the Dodgers or the Angels win the World Series. Hell, it would even be fun (more so hilarious) to see the Nationals win the World Series. But there’s something about watching the Yankees get their World Series rings that doesn’t sit right.

It’s almost like if the tallest, strongest, and fastest kid in grade seven won every single event at the track meet. Sure, it’s great for that one kid - but for everyone else, it just creates an environment of resentment.

It’s about as exciting as when the team with the highest payroll wins the World Series.

More from Ian at

The Blue Jay Hunter

The Alex Anthopoulos Game Plan: What Will Blue Jays Do with Roy Halladay?

November 3, 2009

by Ian Hunter… Alex Anthopoulos has a plan for the Toronto Blue Jays. The problem is that he can’t reveal the full details just quite yet.

He’s been in the midst of attempting to rebuild this team, solidifying the coaching staff last week. Now the next thing on Anthopoulos’ agenda is the players.

Last week on Primetime Sports , Paul Beeston assured us that fans would have a better idea of what kind of expectations to have when it comes to total payroll by the end of this week. It looks like he and AA just might deliver in time before next week’s general managers meetings.

Anthopoulos dropped a few sound bites about particular free agents and whether or not they would return next year. John McDonald, Rod Barajas, and Marco Scutaro were names that he mentioned and could not say whether or not they would be back next year.

My suspicion is that at least two out of those three players will leave via free agency, with Johnny Mac almost certainly out the door. It simply doesn’t make sense to pay McDonald over $2 million a year to play 30 games at shortstop

Of course, the giant, glaring elephant in the room that Anthopoulos needs to address is what to do with Roy Halladay. Whatever happens with this team in the next three to five years basically hinges on whether or not Doc is traded this offseason.

The longer that time goes on and the more and more Halladay sees his former teammate A.J. Burnett pitching in the World Series, perhaps he’s developing a little bit of resentment towards the organization that has failed to make the playoffs the past 16 years.

Not only would Halladay be looking for a winning team, but he could also very easily find a suitor that would be willing to pay top dollar for him. Regardless of whether the Phillies win the World Series, many teams have seem the impact that adding an ace like Cliff Lee to the pitching staff can do to solidify themselves as a contender.

Teams like the Dodgers and Angels will be looking for that added insurance to get them over the hump, and Halladay could be that player who gets them over the edge.

We will have to wait and see if that happens under the watch of Alex Anthopoulos or if Doc just walks away via free agency at the end of 2010.

Either way, the gears of change are in motion, and things in Toronto are going to look a lot different next year.

When in doubt, hire yourself as President

October 29, 2009

7 Apr 1998: Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Paul Beeston looks on during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 9-1. Mandatory Credit: Harry How /Allsport
by Ian Hunter… It took almost an entire year of recruiting, but finally there is a President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the official announcement that Paul Beeston (pictured above) will in fact be the new President and CEO of the team, the good news is that Rogers won’t have to change the name plate on the President’s desk and send out that pesky “so and so is no longer with the company” email.

The bad news (and forgive me for the blatant disregard for grammar)…Cito ain’t going nowhere.  Beeston staying on as President basically just bought Cito another year as manager of this team and possibly even more than that, because there is no way in hell that Beeston lets Cito go under his watch.

So it turns out that the Blue Jays will not be wiping the slate clean, and instead it seems like J.P. Ricciardi was the only bad seed in the whole bunch. At least now it doesn’t seem like the team is in limbo anymore, and the Toronto Blue Jays can finally move forward and start over with the next “five-year plan”.

The End of the J.P. Ricciardi Era

October 4, 2009

by Ian Hunter… After all the turmoil in the Blue Jays clubhouse these past few days, the last person I expected to get fired was J.P. Ricciardi.

Yes, the writing was on the wall for J.P. and he was on his way out the door anyway, yet it was surprising to see him turfed so soon.

Ricciardi received a lot of flack over his eight years as General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Not everything he touched turned to gold, but he did make some good trades and free agent signings throughout the years. I’m not trying to be a J.P. Ricciardi apologist, however each GM makes mistakes.

In a lot of ways, J.P. can’t really be blamed for some of the things that happened with this team. Someone has to be held accountable though, and just like John Gibbons was let go when the Jays struggled, Ricciardi was the sacrificial lamb this time around.

For the time being, Alex Anthopolous fill step into the General Manager’s shoes and look after the day to the day operations of the Blue Jays? But how long is that going to last? Is this the first phase of the changes that will be coming this off season? I for one certainly hope so.

It was a necessary move, yes, but it seems like things aren’t flowing naturally here. If the Blue Jays were planning on cleaning house, Paul Beeston should have announced the new President, who would then hire the new General Manager, who in turn would hire a new coaching stuff. Instead, they are going about this whole thing ass backwards.

Even though Cito Gaston was in the eye of the storm of controversy, I guess it doesn’t make much sense to let go of the coach with just three games to play in the season. Paul Beeston probably wants Cito to leave on his own terms and let him ride out the rest of the year.

If firing Ricciardi was in fact a move to appease the fans, it was a move to appease the wrong type of fans. It would be the type of move to appease the fans that called for J.P.’s head every single step of the way, regardless of all the positive things he brought to this club.

If that’s the way the Toronto Blue Jays want to run this club, they might never make those people happy. Instead, they could just be be abandoning the intelligent fan base that the Blue Jays so desperately need.

J.P. was the first domino to fall, which means there is most certainly others to fall after him. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

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