Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Will the Jays trade Halladay?

A media firestorm has erupted in Toronto, with Roy Halladay at the center of much speculation and innuendo regarding the possibility he could be shipped out of town. Seemingly out of no where, Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi mentioned to a reporter that he is listening to offers for Roy Halladay, and that has ignited an inferno that now has Ricciardi seemingly intent on moving the 6-time All-Star.

Halladay is an attractive option, given that he has the remainder of this season, and the following campaign left on his contract for a prospective team, not to mention the fact he'd given any contender a huge lift heading into a post season run. Halladay has maintained his stance that he wants to stay in Toronto and will discuss contract details at a later date. However, one of the best, if not THE best pitcher in baseball also hasn't wavered in his desire to win.

The Jays could score a bounty in return for the 32 year old ace, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Dodgers all mentioned as a possible landing spot for Doc. New York and Boston, however, have reportedly not contacted Ricciardi for a possible deal. The Jays could load up with a top pitching prospect, corner infielder and potentially another solid option for the right to Halladay's services, which could really set the franchise up for future success given their stronger farm system.

If Halladay, who has a full no trade clause in his contract, did decide to waive it, no one would blame him for wanting to win instead of being stuck on a mediocre ball club. He has given the Blue Birds a phenomenal 12 year career, posting a 141-68 record to go along with his 2003 American League CY Young award.

I don't see how this has blown up so much the past few days, and would still be mildly surprised to see Halladay moved this season. Should the Jays be in a similar position next trade deadline, the club would most likely give Halladay his wish of going to a team that is a strong World Series contender.

He would be missed.

Shaun Marcum could return to Jays in August

There could be some welcomed news on the horizon for a ravaged Blue Jays starting rotation in the form of Shaun Marcum. 9 months removed from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, it was presumed that the 27 year old Marcum would miss the entire 2009 campaign and return in 2010. However, he has made great progress in his rehab and the club expects him to return to the rotation in the first week of August.

Marcum made his first rehab start Monday, pitching 3 innings for Class A Dunedin, where he struck out a batter, allowing a pair of hits in the 11 batters he faced. The plan is to have him go 4 innings next contest, and slowly work his way back to the major league team.

A patchwork Blue Jays rotation that has summoned 12 different starters this year, including 5 that made their ML debut could use the crafty righty. Last season, Marcum went 9-7 with a 3.39 in 25 starts. In his career, the Missouri native has gone 24-17 with a respectable 3.95 ERA.

Jays release B.J. Ryan; activate Downs from DL

The Blue Jays have released B.J. Ryan! After stinking the entire season, Toronto finally parted ways with the former team’s former closer after activating the incumbent stopper Scott Downs off the disabled list Wednesday. The Blue Birds are letting Ryan go with 1 ½ seasons left on his 5 year/$47 Million dollar contract he signed prior to the 2006 season. They will be obligated to pay the $10 million left on his deal for next year.

Ryan struggled this season with a poor 6.53 ERA, losing his job as closer due to an inability to find the strike zone consistently. After he continued to prove unreliable, the Jays couldn’t find a role for him in the bullpen and were considering using him only in mop up duty. Ryan grew increasingly frustrated with his lack of playing time, and should benefit from a change in scenery.

Despite the fact Blow Jay Ryan was horrendous this season, he did many good things for this organization that can’t be dismissed, including saving 38 games in his first campaign in 2006 with a 1.37 ERA. Following Tommy John Surgery that cost him most of the 2007 campaign, he was solid last year, shutting down 32 games.

Having Downs back in the fold will be remarkable for a bullpen that has been taxed with a heavy workload and mostly devoid of any reliable arms. Downs returns from his sprained toe suffered against the Phillies June 16th.

Marc Rzepczynski with solid MLB debut

After a surprise promotion to fill in for a depleted Jays starting rotation, Marc Rzepczynski had a very solid major league debut against the Rays. He lasted 6 innings, giving up just 1 run scattering only 2 hits while striking out 7 batters. The southpaw made history, becaming the first American League pitcher to strike out at least 7 and allow two or fewer hits in his ML debut since 1973.

The young lefty was the 5 Jays starter to make his major league debut this season, setting a new club record. He looked poised on the mound, only running into trouble in the 4th frame. That's where his control wavered a little bit, as Rzepczynski issued three free passes in the inning, including a walk with the bases loaded that accounted for the only run he surrendered.

The solid debut has to be considered somewhat of a surprise, but not if you examine Rzepczynski's numbers this year in the minors. In 16 starts, he went 9-5 with a svelte 2.86 ERA. He was recently promoted to AAA Las Vegas, and in two outings fashioned a minuscule 0.79 ERA with 16 K's. The 23 year old, selected in the 5th round of the 2007 draft is a strike out pitcher, having struck out 104 batters in 88 innings with class AA New Hampshire and AAA Las Vegas this season.

With Scott Richmond on the shelf, Rzepczynski could most certainly be given a couple more opportunities to prove he belongs at the big league level.

League letting me down

I think it might be about time that I start to face facts about Brandon League. This is very difficult for me because I've remained fiercely loyal to the young fireballer throughout his struggles this season. However, the fact remains that he has been wildly inconsistent and extremely unreliable.

How fitting that a day after I lauded him for shutting down the Yankees that he serves up the game winning home run to Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, I called that home run in the 11th inning. I turned to a colleague at work and said "Wow, Pat Burrell's numbers are terrible this year. Knowing my luck he'll hit a walk off against my boy League." Sadly, i proved prophetic.

League has been good in the past, putting up ERA's of 2.53 in '06 and 2.18 in '08. This year, however, he is 1-4, has blown 3 saves while sporting a bloated 5.31 ERA. It's hard to believe he is in fact only 26 years old, considering he's been with the team for 6 seasons. He's still a young talent, but has a lot to learn about mixing fastballs with his devastating splitter.

If it sounds like I'm making excuses for him, I probably am. Can you blame me? I'm extremely loyal. Perhaps loyal to a fault with Brandon League.