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Doc leads to more trade talk

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

Over the past month, Roy Halladay(notes) has become baseball's version of the musician whose reverence grows posthumously. Mercifully, Halladay avoided the whole departing-this-life portion of those festivities.

The catalyst for the Halladay worship started three weeks ago, when Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he would consider trading the right-hander. Since then, a half-dozen teams have seriously engaged the Blue Jays, a million rumors have leaked from those talks and Halladay has finally permeated the bubble that envelops Toronto every year when it becomes an afterthought by the All-Star break.

And so during trade-deadline week, amid the cornucopia of posturing, leveraging, bluffing and outright lying, floats Halladay in the ether, the center of the juiciest scuttlebutt and the man around whom the baseball world revolves this week.

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1. Roy Halladay's new converts – in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Texas, Boston and New York – are finally wising up to the reality: He is the best pitcher this decade, and it's not really close. Especially when excluding his disastrous 2000 season, during which he was exiled to the minors and didn't return until July 2, 2001.

Since then, Halladay is first in complete games (42, and no one else has 30), tied for first in victories (129) and shutouts (11), second in earned-run average (to Johan Santana(notes)) and homers allowed per nine innings (to Brandon Webb(notes)), sixth in innings pitched and walks per nine and seventh in total strikeouts. His strikeouts per nine isn't terribly impressive. It's just scary: 6.66. Enough to freak out …

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Amaro Jr.

2. Ruben Amaro Jr., who as much as Ricciardi controls Halladay's fate. Amaro is the Philadelphia Phillies' GM, and to call his team a good fit for Halladay would be like calling a Bacon Explosion mildly fatty. Halladay to Philly makes every bit of sense: The Phillies have a prospect-rich farm system, money to cover Halladay's $15.75 million contract next year and the need for an ace to complement an inconsistent Cole Hamels(notes).

Now, at the price of J.A. Happ(notes), Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown – well, giving up a major league starter and the best pitcher and position player in the minor league system is ludicrous. What, you expected Ricciardi to aim low on his first go? Talks will pick up again this week, and an NL scout believes Ricciardi will settle for a package of either Happ and Brown or Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor, plus two more prospects.

"This deal has to get done," the scout said, and goodness …



3. Would that ever make Jimmy Rollins(notes) happy. Already he's having a dynamite July, though compared to the year's first three months, anything above the Mendoza Line would qualify accordingly. Rollins' 31 hits in July nearly equal his total from April and June combined, and his two home runs and seven RBIs the last two games are more than he hit in the season's first month. Even though he won a championship last year, Rollins hasn't been the same since he won MVP in 2007. Then again …

4. Matt Holliday(notes) was the real MVP that year. And three games into his career with St. Louis, short though it may be, he's mimicking that form: seven for 11 with four doubles, three RBIs, two walks and one happy Albert Pujols(notes). All of which is well and good, except that the Cardinals have lost two straight and dropped out of first place in the National League Central behind Chicago. Perhaps Holliday can hit well and the Cardinals can win, exactly what …

5. Andre Ethier(notes) and the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing. After a silly week (13 for 22, 1.745 OPS) Ethier leads the Dodgers in all the counting categories. Ethier is to Manny Ramirez(notes) what Holliday is to Pujols: protection. As if GMs need any greater warning this week about the danger of trading prospects, Oakland – generally a team that hordes its young players – dealt Ethier to Los Angeles for a year-and-a-half Milton Bradley(notes) rental. Ouch. Like, major ouch. Like …

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6. Even considering the possibility of trading Clayton Kershaw(notes) ouch. Fox Sports reported that the Dodgers were considering dealing Kershaw, which begs the question: Seriously? Answer: A resounding no.

Let's put it this way: Since May 17, only one pitcher has a better ERA than Kershaw's 1.81: Tim Lincecum(notes). His 94-mph fastball – which he throws nearly three-quarters of the time – is one of the best in the major leagues according to FanGraphs' weighted pitch values. He also possesses a hellacious curveball. Kershaw doesn't turn 22 until the end of next spring training, and he's as nice and smart a kid as a team will find. In other words, he should be as untouchable as they come. Even for …

7. Cliff Lee(notes), whose name has gone viral. Before CC Sabathia(notes) and Lee won back-to-back Cy Young Awards, teammates had accomplished that seven times. None of those 14 players was traded the season after the award. Dealing Lee could make it two for two. Any team walking at Halladay's price is considering Lee, including Philadelphia, the Angels and Boston …



8. Where GM Theo Epstein has a cache of good starting pitching to begin with. It's just that a playoff rotation of Lee, Josh Beckett(notes) and Jon Lester(notes) can pretty much lock down a five-game series and put Boston in excellent position going forward. Certainly the Red Sox have the arms – or arm, since the Indians do fancy Clay Buchholz(notes), though not straight up for Victor Martinez(notes), as was reportedly proposed – and the organizational depth to sustain such a loss. Between Casey Kelly and Michael Bowden(notes) on the mound, and Lars Anderson(notes) and Ryan Westmoreland at the plate, Boston regenerates its farm system like a plant does a snapped-off branch. Which isn't quite the route …

9. J.P. Ricciardi plans to take with the Blue Jays' minor leagues. He'd like to replenish an average-at-best system from the outside. It's not just Halladay on the block. He's shopping Scott Rolen(notes), Marco Scutaro(notes), Scott Downs(notes), Lyle Overbay(notes) and, of course, the albatross contracts of Vernon Wells(notes) and Alex Rios(notes). The total haul for all of them wouldn't equal what Halladay alone can pull, and that's why the onus is on Ricciardi to make a deal now.



He's too smart not to be fibbing his face off right now, with proclamations of early deadlines and dread that the trade won't go through. If it doesn't, Ricciardi is left with an expensive pitcher who says he'll test free agency following the 2010 season – and whose trade value immediately plummets because these next two or three months are worth at least a good prospect. Perhaps next season the Blue Jays can make a run at the Yankees and Red Sox and Tampa Bay as they did a couple of months ago. Or maybe they just end up …

10. With Roy Halladay sitting out Game 1 of the American League Division Series, as they have every year since winning the World Series in 1993. A pitcher of his caliber not only deserves to play in the postseason but deserves to be seen in one. The appreciation for him grows by the start, and his next one is scheduled Wednesday. If he's still in a Blue Jays uniform that night, Halladay believes he isn't going anywhere.

At which point we might as well set our watches for this time next year, when the name of Roy Halladay will be resurrected once again.