Okay, someone talk the Jays diehards off the ledge.  They’re probably not surprised to hear all the Roy Halladay trade rumors flying around but that can’t make it any easier.  This is a franchise after all that has sent packing or let walk away the likes of Roberto Alomar, John Olerud, Shawn Green, David Cone, Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemens, Chris Carpenter and Jimmy Key.  Some of them left looking for money, some of them left looking for World Series rings.  But all of them did leave and the Jays were poorer for it.

Now it’s 2009.  The Jays have shown some spunk early this season, despite crippling injuries to almost every key pitcher on the staff.  Not to mention the corpse-like performance of Vernon Wells and the continued disappointment that is Alex Rios.  Even still, the Jays are within a handful of games of a playoff berth.  One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that they boast baseball’s best pitcher as the ace of their staff:  Roy Halladay.

Halladay is not your typical ace here in the new millennium.  He’s not the kind of hard-throwing, sexy strikeout pitcher that are highly sought-after.  He’s better.  What “Doc” can give you that very few pitchers can in 2009 is 9 full innings without having to worry about his arm falling off.  There’s a reason that this guy wins so many of his starts and completes so many of his games.  Efficiency.  It’s the same trait that helped lead Greg Maddux to greatness, in fact.  Halladay simply does an outstanding job of throwing the right pitches at the right times to the right hitters.  It’s not luck, he simply knows his profession and has perfected what he does to the point where he rarely gets hung with a loss.  Even at the age of 32 and beyond, he can be booked in for 220 innings per year and 15-plus wins even in the uber-tough AL East.

So what’s all the trade talk surrounding him?  More smoke than fire, from everything I have heard, seen and read over the several days.  Jays GM J.P. Riccardi was simply responding to a question and remarked that the team would listen if someone called about Halladay.  In fact he had to come out and reiterate that he said nothing more than that, after the usual suspects (major sports networks, sports talk radio, the ‘net) began to scream from the rooftops about which teams Halladay might end up on.  Ease up on the throttle fellas.  Nothing has happened yet, and more likely than not nothing will.  Riccardi said so himself in a follow up interview stating that it was a “75 percent chance” that “Doc” stays right where he is in Toronto.

And believe you me, that would be just fine with the big hurler.  Halladay is a quiet guy.  He’s a competitive guy who wants to win, but he also wants to win in Toronto.  He likes the city, as does his family.  He feels extremely loyal to them, especially after they stuck with him through the command issues he had early in his career.  He has built many good relationships inside the organization.  All this trade talk isn’t coming from him and that’s probably the biggest reason that you won’t see a deal get done.  “Doc” has stated on many occasions that he wants to stay in Toronto and win a World Series with the Blue Jays.  He’s taken a discount once already to stay in Toronto.  Will he find the same kind of fit with the city and community and organization somewhere else, as he does in Toronto?  Perhaps, but who can say?  I would be surprised to see him roll the dice to find out, with only a short-term improvement on his World Series chances as a benefit.

Next season (for which Halladay is still under contract) Toronto will have Shawn Marcum and Dustin McGowan back from injury.  Adding that duo to a rotation including Big Roy and potential Rookie of the Year Ricky Romero would give the Jays probably the best rotation in the AL East.  They would possess an abundance of pitching depth that would possibly allow them to deal from that strength, not to mention a likely return by Travis Snider to a Jays offense that has produced pretty well this season even with Wells dragging things down.  It’s not unfeasible that the Jays will be in the thick of things again in 2010, and not just due to some good luck.  This is a team built around a strong pitching staff and a top-flight defense.  That’s not a bad combination when trying to win baseball games.  Does Roy Halladay really want to roll the dice and see what can happen in another city with another team?  My instincts and all the information I have tell me no.

The other part of the equation is whether the Jays can get the kind of talent they want in return for Halladay.  Bear in mind this is the same team that turned down Tim Lincecum for Alex Rios a couple of years back.  It will take a colossal offer in order to pry the big Texan out of the Jays rotation and I can’t think there’s many teams with the talent or the stomach to do so.  Most of the teams that could use Halladay (Philly, Texas, New York (M), LA (D), St. Louis) either don’t have the young players necessary to make a deal or simply don’t want to part with that kind of cheap, young talent.  Not to mention those teams would then have to sign him to a new contract extension.  Given that Riccardi has said he won’t allow teams to negotiate that ahead of time, a deal seems even less likely for the handful of teams that could afford him.  Most of the trade rumors so far have been laughably bad, even beyond the usual ludicrous Yankees rumors.  There’s about as much chance of Doc Halladay going to the Yankees as there is of Doc Gooden pitching for the Yanks this fall.

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