The Rangers, who are staying on the fringe of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, are focused on trying to acquire an experienced starting pitcher before the Trade deadline.
There has been talk that the Rangers are looking for relief help and Orioles left-hander George Sherrill has been mentioned. But the Rangers bullpen has been outstanding of late, even with Frank Francisco on the disabled list with walking pneumonia. The Rangers expect Francisco back at some point later next week.
Sherrill may be considered an upgrade over Eddie Guardado. But Guardado went into Saturday’s game against the Royals having not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.
Yes, the Rangers could use Sherrill but club officials acknowledge the minimal upgrade he represents is not worth the price they would have to give up to get him. That’s why, sources said, the Orioles do not view the Rangers as serious trading partners.
If the Rangers can add a starting pitcher, they could move rookie left-hander Derek Holland back to the bullpen and upgrade both areas.
“We could use another experienced starter,” manager Ron Washington said.
Rangers players are still hoping the club will get involved with Halladay. That seems like a long-short but the Rangers are still talking with the Blue Jays and still not completely out of the running. The Rangers have the young prospects – especially pitching – but adding payroll and getting Halladay to accept a trade is another matter.
— T.R. Sullivan
During a radio interview on The FAN590 prior to Thursday’s Blue Jays-Indians tilt at Rogers Centre, general manager J.P. Ricciardi shed a little more light on why Toronto is suddenly willing to shop ace Roy Halladay.
“What’s changed is Roy has told us that he’s going to test the free-agent market,” Ricciardi said.
Halladay is under contract for $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million in 2010, which is the final year under his current deal. The Blue Jays originally planned on discussing an extension with Halladay this coming offseason, but Ricciardi’s comments make it clear that’s not going to happen.
The chances of Toronto retaining Halladay seemed slim already, considering the fact that the club has trimmed its payroll and the pitcher has expressed that he wants to have a chance to play October baseball. With the Jays in fourth place in the AL East, and a rotation filled with injuries and young arms, contending soon doesn’t seem realistic.
Halladay is scheduled to start for the Jays on Tuesday in Seattle and Ricciardi doesn’t want the pitcher taking the mound with the thought that he might be traded in the following three days leading up to the July 31 Deadline. Ricciardi said Toronto’s internal deadline of Tuesday is flexible, depending on how close the club might be to a deal.
“If we’re down the road with something, obviously the deadline can fluctuate,” Ricciardi told reporters earlier Thursday morning. “If we’re not down the road by the 28th, nothing’s going to happen.”
The team considered to be the front-runner to land Halladay continues to be the Phillies. Even though Philadelphia is believed to be opposed to including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a possible deal, the Blue Jays sent assistant general manager Tony LaCava to scout Drabek’s latest start on Wednesday.
The Brewers are also considered to have serious interest in trading for Halladay. Other teams who have been tied to Halladay in various reports include the Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. Ricciardi said only a few teams have approached him with serious interest.
“Some are serious and some I would say are delirious,” Ricciardi said during the radio interview.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said starting pitching is the club’s top priority in any trade talks that they are having with other teams.
“Yeah,” Daniels said. “That’s probably the first thing we’re looking at…a starter. But that’s also the toughest thing to acquire.”
The Rangers have asked about a number of starters, most notably Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays and Cliff Lee of the Indians. Halladay has pretty much made it clear to people that he will not approve of a trade to Texas and the Indians have told the Rangers they aren’t likely to trade Lee.
The Rangers are also limited in their ability to take on significant payroll with a possible sale of the club by owner Tom Hicks still pending.
“It’s part of the equation,” Daniels said. “We’ll evaluate every situation and every potential opportunity that presents itself, make a baseball decision and present it to ownership. I understand given the circumstances, it will be much more of a challenge than in the past.”
Daniels is also looking for offensive help and is not happy with the way the Rangers have been hitting of late. They went into Wednesday’s game hitting .214 in their last nine games and were hitting .255 for the season, 12th in the American League.
“The quality of our at-bats needs to improve if we’re going to have a chance to contend or win,” Daniels said.
— T.R. Sullivan
Many on hand at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon wondered if they were watching Roy Halladay’s last outing as the ace of the Blue Jays. If so, Doc did not disappoint, spinning a complete-game gem en route to a 3-1 win over the Red Sox.
“I was hoping he’d have an unbelievable performance, something I could remember when I look back at my time here in Toronto,” Jays catcher Rod Barajas said. “It definitely goes through your head. I hope it’s not the last time. Everybody in this clubhouse hopes it’s not the last time.”
Multiple reports indicated that representatives from the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox, Rangers and Twins were in attendance for Halladay’s latest start, which netted his 11th win and lowered his ERA to 2.73. Former Jays GMs Pat Gillick (Phillies) and Gord Ash (Brewers) were in Toronto for the entire weekend series against Boston.
Philadelphia is still believed to be the front-runner to land Halladay, and the Jays and Phils have reportedly already discussed a few of the Phillies’ top prospects, including outfielder Michael Taylor, shortstop Jason Donald and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek likely needs to be included to convince the Jays to pull the trigger on any deal with the Phils.
As far as the other clubs in attendance for Halladay’s start, it’s possible some were there to take a look at Boston’s players, or Toronto’s relievers — Doc’s fourth complete game of the year robbed scouts of that chance — and position players. The Red Sox don’t have serious interest in Halladay and the Rangers and Twins appear to be long shots.
It’s worth noting that Ash was at the helm in Toronto when the Blue Jays drafted Halladay. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, “Rival teams say the Brewers have enough prospects to make a Halladay deal.”
Prior to previous Trade Deadlines, Halladay’s name has been tossed around in rumors and reports. This year, though, the speculation is real and Halladay’s recent comments indicate that he’s more open to the idea of being dealt than he was in the past. On Saturday, Halladay’s wife, Brandy, stepped into the radio booth during the Jays’ game and the talk eventually turned to the wave of rumors.
“This very well could be our last homestand,” Brandy Halladay said on The FAN590. “If something happens before the Trade Deadline, I won’t be back. That’s difficult. That’s more than difficult. I just broke into tears four minutes ago. … It’s very difficult for everybody. … You’re making me cry now.”