The Clock is Beginning to Tick
Photo by Keith Allison.
We won’t pronounce the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays dead…yet. But if the team’s going to accomplish anything this season—and even if they aren’t—then this is going to be a big week.
Following a disastrous run-in to the all-star break, the Blue Jays rebounded nicely with a series win over the American League East–leading Boston Red Sox. This week, they’re home to the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays; the Tampa series looms especially large for the Blue Jays, who are an abysmal 11–20 within the division. Those numbers, more than any other, explain why the Jays likely won’t be a playoff team again this year. But even if the Jays go on a run (and, let’s be honest, it’d have to be a pretty impressive run), it’d still take a backseat to the Roy Halladay Situation.
The Roy Halladay Situation (which surely warrants capitalization by now) has taken on a life of its own; it certainly overshadowed Halladay’s showing at the All-Star Game. And if anything’s going to happen, it’s probably going to happen soon—maybe as soon as this week. J.P. Ricciardi has to be careful with how he handles it: should Halladay leave, what Ricciardi is able to extract in return will become his ultimate legacy here in Toronto. From the sounds of it he’s being a tough negotiator: according to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, Ricciardi’s message to potential suitors has been, “This is gonna have to hurt.” And why not? Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball; he’s certainly a player who could push a contender over the top, and in a year where there are few dominant teams he must look awfully good to a lot of general managers. If Ricciardi can parlay Halladay into a package containing, say, two blue-chip prospects and a roster player, then through gritted teeth we’d wish Halladay a fond farewell. But Ricciardi has to do this right; getting seventy-five cents on the dollar for his best player would not only jeopardize the Blue Jays’ immediate future but would likely expedite Ricciardi’s own departure. He thus has added incentive not to screw this up (for the record, Gammons doesn’t think Halladay’s going anywhere simply because the asking price is too high).
And so the 2009 season, which started out so, so promisingly, comes down to this. It might be too late already—but if the Blue Jays are to do anything this year, even if it’s simply to generate momentum for 2010, these upcoming series against Cleveland and Tampa are crucial. Failing that, Jays fans may have to confront the reality of seeing Roy Halladay in another team’s uniform. It’s going to be an interesting few days.