Halladay To The Angels Is Just What The ‘Doc’ Ordered


Roy Halladay’s pitch hand is strong.

So strong, in fact, he’s got practically every team in the Majors falling all over themselves to make sure it belongs to them.

Top prospects, proven starters, first born children—all being offered up like sacrificial lambs to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Halladay’s unique services, but one team has emerged as a potential front-runner.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim worked their little wings off trying to secure a trade for the Doc last season, and were said to be among the closest to getting it done, but former Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi demanded too much and the Angels settled for Scott Kazmir instead.

Good thing “former” is now part of his job title.

With the bullheaded Ricciardi gone, the Angels once again find themselves the lead dogs in the hunt for Halladay, and this time around the price is just right.

This, thanks to Halladay’s recent comments about his status with the Blue Jays.

Last offseason he was quoted as saying he wanted to stay with the only team he’s ever known, if at all possible.

This year, Halladay is “not interested” in returning Toronto once his current deal expires after the 2010 season.

Where once the Blue Jays had the upper hand and could demand the sun, moon, and stars for their ace, now the sky has fallen and Toronto must accept a much less-desirable deal than originally planned.

Halladay has to be moved now that he’s made it clear he won’t re-sign with the Jays. The longer they wait to move him, the more value they risk losing.

That said, Toronto still has the pick of the litter as far as interested teams are concerned, and there is no shortage of them.

The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers have all been linked to Halladay trade rumors at one point or another.

But from this rich and storied crowd, the Angels have emerged as the likely destination for the Doc, and for a number of reasons.

First, and most importantly, it looks like the Angels are going to be in need of a No. 1 starter.

Staff ace John Lackey is expected to command top dollar as the best starting pitcher on the free agent market, and has been courted by several of the above-mentioned teams, along with the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers.

Certainly, the Halos would like to hang on to their horse, the man who cemented the team’s first World Series title as rookie. But as the days and weeks wear on, the prospect of Lackey returning to Anaheim seems less and less likely.

A replacement will almost definitely be needed, and as replacements go, you can’t do much better than Halladay.

The Angels also have what Toronto is looking for—A stable of promising young talent to help bolster the Blue Jays’ farm system, along with several replaceable starters.

Among the many rumors that have sprung up about a package deal from the Angels, the following names have been mentioned as potential pieces: Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Terry Evans, Brandon Wood, Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger, Jordan Walden.

These are the players that continue to be mentioned, and there isn’t a single one the Angels couldn’t live without.

Toronto has apparently backed off Erick Aybar—whom the Angels balked at when Riccardi demanded he be part of any trade discussions during the season—and instead is rumored to be looking for three or four prospects to go along with a starting pitcher.

Of those players discussed, Saunders is about the only one who the Angels probably shouldn’t give up.

Left-handed starters are infinitely more valuable than their righty counterparts, and Saundo has the stuff and the demeanor to be effective in this league for a very long time.

That is not to say that Santana is any less talented, but Toronto will justifiably need someone to replace Halladay on its staff. If the have to part with one, it should be Santana.

The rest of the prospects are a grab bag. The Blue Jays should simply reach into our minor league system, pull out a few of their favorites, and get this deal over with.

The Angels are very deep in the outfield, and may get even deeper with the possible acquisitions of Curtis Granderson and/or Jason Bay. That eliminates any need for Evans or Bourjos in the near future.

Wood is a strikeout machine with Major League bust written all over him. Yet somehow his minor (league) achievements at the Triple-A level still manage to dazzle teams looking for more power from their infield.

If the Jays are foolish enough to ignore his big league failures and focus on his insignificant numbers in Salt Lake, fine. He’s gone.

Walden has been talked about as one of the Angels’ finest pitching prospects, but he is still at least one or two more seasons away from being a full-time starter at the Major League level.

By then, the Angels would be looking to three-peat as World Series champs, far too busy celebrating Halladay’s consecutive Cy Young Awards to even remember they had Walden in the first place.

Pitchers like Roy Halladay don’t come along everyday. In fact, his brand of complete-game wonderment hasn’t been seen since the days of Bob Gibson and Catfish Hunter.

The Angels shouldn’t be looking to empty their reserves every time a big bat or a crafty arm hits the market.

But Halladay is a unique property, and when someone of his ilk is available, teams are be happy to take the punch to their farm system and then ask for more.