Roy Halladay is simply the finest homegrown player to ever wear a Jays uniform, and the best pitcher this town has ever had. (Please don't send me e-mail about Joe Carter or Robbie Alomar. They arrived in trades and did not come up through the Jays system.) I say this with all deference to Dave Stieb, who was a joy and pleasure to watch every fifth day, but Halladay is simply better and is still not finished. As of July 20th of this year, he has a career record of 142-69, (a .673 winning percentage) an career ERA of 3.46, 1400 strikeouts, and an amazing 44 complete games. He is horse. He is dedicated to his craft, is never unprepared for any start and has had only 2 stints on the DL. He is a 6 time all-star, the 2003 Cy Young Award winner and has finished in the top five in the voting three other times. Just for good measure, he has 12 career shutouts. Not only that, he has winning records against both the Red Sox and the Yankees, teams that the poor Jays have to face 18 times a season each due to the ridiculous schedule. So, please don't tell me that he isn't the elite pitcher in the game today simply because you parochial yanks haven't taken the time or effort to watch him throw. Halladay is also a solid citizen. He has never once been caught up in scandal, has twice foregone free agency to sign extensions because he actually likes our city and has been a huge philanthropist in giving back to the community. He is the face of the Blue Jays, so please forgive Riccardi (I am no fan, believe me!) and company for setting the trade bar a tad high.
Is Halladay worth what the Jays are asking? Hard to tell from a baseball perspective because prospects are all about the future and many don't pan out. But, can the Jays reasonably deal the best player to arguably ever to wear their uniform without being able to say to their fans, "We got the other guys best players?" Absolutely not. Baseball in Toronto is already on life support. Fan interest is dwindling and another lost season is upon us. The unbalanced money situation in baseball means that we up here cannot compete with the big boys even though we play in their division. The proposed dealing of Doc is as much a Blue Jays survival deal as it is a pure baseball one. Fans here would rather see the Jays lose with Doc than build without him and attendance is sure to plummet further in the aftermath of such a trade. Signs around the ballpark over the last couple of weeks have been all about firing management and keeping Roy. If the Jays blow this deal, the repercussions will be lengthy and deep. It could very well be the beginning of the end for baseball in Toronto. I don't think that that is too strong a statement. Players are always using the Jays to build or resurrect their careers, and then off to greener pastures down south. In Doc, Torontonians have found a sports idol who really wants to be here and we cynical Canadians have embraced him.
If Doc is dealt, I as a fan will mourn his loss but accept this part of the game I truly loathe. I understand the economics of the situation, but this is more than your average baseball deal. This is the Blue Jays "Babe Ruth" moment. It may haunt them for years to come.