Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Roy Halladay and the persistence of change

If there's one thing we've come to understand in life, it's that change is absolutely persistent. Relentless, even.

As much as we might want to stop the bejeweled movements of the clock and stay the hands of time, it's an excercise in futility. The valiantly foolish attempts that people make to maintain the status quo and perpetuate what was once good often end up in a patchwork of pratfalls and, ultimately, failure.

It happens in all walks of life. On a personal level, people maintain relationships and friendships out of nostalgia, continuing to nurture the same set of acquaintances even after they've moved on in every other way. Businesses attempt to burnish their reputations by continuing to celebrate their past glories, even as their customers move on to newer and better things.

In the case of the Blue Jays, one need only look at the gargantuan contract to which they signed "face of the franchise" Vernon Wells to understand how pushing back on change can result in the team overpaying for past glories and delaying the process of replenishing and restocking the franchise with new and emerging talent.

So it is with this in mind that we turn our gaze towards Roy Halladay, and the unprecedented maelstrom of trade rumours surrounding him after GM J.P. Ricciardi's tepid admission that the team would "listen" to offers for the greatest pitcher in the history of the franchise.

Obviously, there's been a lot of ink spilled and bandwidth consumed over the past week over the prospects of trading Halladay before the season's end, and we're not sure how much we have to add to the hand-wringing and resignation that was contained therein. We shared the reaction of many Blue Jays bloggers and commenters who found themselves emotionally unable to conceive of the team without Halladay, and had we commented on this ourselves last week, we're sure that it would have come off as an agonized cry of Plathian platitudes.

Maybe we're getting resigned to the idea, or maybe we're steeling ourselves for what will surely come to pass. But you have to know that at some point, Roy Halladay will no longer pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The romantic in us always hoped that Doc would take his final walk off the mound in a Blue Jays jersey at the end of a Hall of Fame career. But if it comes to pass that Halladay - like Delgado, or Hentgen, or Key, or Stieb, or Alomar before him - moves on by his own choice to another franchise, we have to understand that eventuality not as a failure on the part of the team, but as a passage from one era to the next.

At this point, Roy Halladay's profile has never been higher, and it absolutely behooves the team to look at every possibility that they have to capitalize on the perceived value that the hurler has, and the possible return that they could receive in exchange for him. It would be irresponsible for them to not do so, and as much as it will break our heart to see him sporting another uniform, the franchise will go on without him.

It's instructive to remember the example of the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who in successive seasons traded Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey and lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency, only to turn around and win 116 games without any of those "face of the franchise" cornerstones. The possibility exists that the foundation of next great Blue Jays team - the one we've waited for since 1993 - is waiting for us, just the other side of this potential Halladay trade.

Trading for prospects is always a dicey proposition, of course, but no more so than it is to hold firm on keeping the hometown hero and hoping that he continues to produce at the same high level. In the next year, Halladay could very well lose a bit of velocity or movement, or he could throw out his back picking up one of his kids. Or he could slice open a finger on a model helicopter blade. Or he could throw one (or 100) cutters too many, leaving him a shadow of his former self. There are no guarantees that if the Jays hold on to Halladay that they'll continue to enjoy the current vintage for the forseeable future.

Losing Halladay is a tough thing to swallow for the beleaguered Blue Jays fanbase (such as it is), but we have to accept that with time, we were going to lose him anyway, either to time, injury, or to the inevitable change that occurs over the course of a franchise's narrative.

It's not that we want to see him go. But it all reminds us of a line from the Clive Owen movie Croupier: "Hang on tightly. Let go lightly."


Anonymous said...

Well put. You're saying what I'm feeling, but didn't realize... Sad, but inevitable.

The Ack said...

Uh, yeah, I think after reading this I'm just going to quit posting anything again, ever, for the duration of the Internet. EPIC.

Seriously though, I knew goddamn well when I posted about Doc that it was a purely emotional response, but the reaction to even the thought of Halladay pitching elsewhere is so visceral, I couldn't contain it.

Much like Doc himself, I'm now resigned to the move, and would actually rather have things develop sooner than later. The Waiting is the hardest part.

What I am getting sick and tired of, though, is teams in pursuit putting forth these "untouchable prospect" lists. Fuck that. Are we dealing Roy Halladay or Brian Tallet here? This had better result in a franchise defining haul, or we'll know it's a pure salary reduction move.

And there will be blood in the streets.

Dragonzigg said...

Just like The Ack, I understand the sense of the move and pretty much acknowledge it's going to happen at this point, but the emotional part of me simply refuses to accept it. For god's sake just give the man anything he wants and keep him with us :-(

Colin said...

No prospect can ever be better than the best pitcher in baseball. Thus no prospect can be worth more than Halladay. Thus nobody should be untouchable.

brainiac said...

If they don't trade him and they lose him to free agency then that would be worse. Remember how they should have traded Burnett?

Also, come hell or high water - Doc is going to Cooperstown as a jay.

Layth said...

Bravo Tao. Truly a well written and thought out post about someone who is arguably the best player this team has ever seen.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Brilliantly put...

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

The possibility exists that the foundation of next great Blue Jays team - the one we've waited for since 1993 - is waiting for us, just the other side of this potential Halladay trade.

Fucking insane, Tao. You're the man.

The Ack said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

I've repeated this sentiment elsewhere, but it would be nice if Beeston (or someone from the ivory towers) would at least say something about the future direction of the team.

Then again, if Beeston answers my call and announces a $60M payroll for next season, prefacing it with "well, if we aren't going to spend $100M, we might as well only spend $60M"......

Never mind.

Ian Hunter said...

Great post, Tao. Very well thought out, articulate and from the heart.

For me, that hardest part about trading Halladay is what the Blue Jays will get back in the way of young talent and prospects. There are no guarantees that these guys will develop into superstar players, or even make it to the major league level.

Right now, Roy Halladay is tangible talent and I'd rather have that right now than take a chance. But you're right - there will come a time where Halladay will move on anyway (whether it's because he retires or signs with another team) so maybe we should all prepare ourselves for the possibility regardless.

Tao of Stieb said...

@ dragonzigg

"For god's sake just give the man anything he wants and keep him with us"

You know someone was saying those exact words about Vernon Wells a few years back.

And on the other side, if the Jays aren't going to get a premium package in return for Doc, then yes, absolutely sign him for five years and $100 mil and take your chances on him.

Because if there's one 32 year-old pitcher that I would give that sort of a deal to, it is Doc.

Layth said...

Too bad MLB doesn't operate the same way the NFL does with guaranteed contracts. Think of all the money we could have gotten back with all the injuries over the past few seasons. Especially from Wells. We could probably field the best team ever and keep Halladay happy since we would be contending.

MRB said...

Tao, this post reminds me of something straight from the pen of the late Bart Giacometti. I couldn't pay you a higher compliment.

MK Piatkowski said...

Sorry Tao, I completely disagree with you here. The option is the one we're not even discussing - what do we still need so that this team will get Doc his ring? That's what he cares about. And when I look at our team, I only see us a couple of pieces away. So I fail to understand why we need to trade the greatest player ever to put on a Jays uniform.

To me, it's a slap in the face as a fan. It's saying, "forget about contending anytime in the near future. Don't become invested because we don't give a damn about winning." Doc is a rare player and deserves to play out his entire career in this city and end up with his name in the circle of excellence. (I know that's not the right name but it escapes me at the moment.)

I just don't believe that we need to get rid of him to win. And that's the message we're getting. And I will walk away if he's traded because it was Roy Halladay who mended my wounded baseball heart after the strike. This would rip my heart right out again and I don't think I can stay.

Tao of Stieb said...


I know what you're saying, but I think you have to look at it like this: Halladay is (according to the Elias Sports Bureau's numbers) the most valuable player in the game. But he's still one man pitching every fifth day.

If the Jays are going to challenge the Red Sox and Yankees, they need two or three profoundly scary bats in addition to a top five rotation. Trading Halladay is at least one way to make that happen.

Also, think of this: Tony Fernandez was probably the most beloved Blue Jay at the time of his trade to the Padres (with McGriff) for Alomar and Carter. That was a lot to give up, especially in terms of the emotional investment that the fans had in those players.

But, as with all things in life, you've gotta give something to get something.

Tao of Stieb said...


Thanks for the it happens, I was reading A Great and Glorious Game recently, so it must have rubbed off.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Tao. You do the moment justice.

And good call on the needing dangerous hitters. After losing all these 1-2 run games and walk offs, the weakness of the lineup is showing. The team has enough decent to good arms to carry them for the next few years.

If JP does go through with this, it will define his time in Toronto.

bkblades said...

Whether or not people agree with the sentiment of this post, you brought a much needed perspective. There are a multitude of rational and emotional responses out there, so it's refreshing to read a piece where it all ties back to an inevitable moment in life. After all, sports is an emotional following and it's only natural we find the counterbalance. Otherwise, sports lose all meaning because we aren't able to properly handle the constant highs and lows. Thanks for this, Tao.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

MK, great job mate. NO matter what they get back it will be years before they can even think of catching the Rays(yes, the Rays), the Yanks or the REd Sox. Now with the Os rebuilding(quite frankly their hitting is great so they are ahead of the Jays in one major respect) and their young pitching one year away the Jays will become the runt of the litter. This Doc trade will be a major blow to the franchise, because Doc is the face of the franchise and the most beloved Jay of all time. You don't know what these prospects will become and they can all suck. The scariest thing is that this task should have been in the hands of a new GM, like what Baltimore did with MacPhail. Instead , we have JP overseeing this trade or initial rebuilding? Sad...I really think that the team can't survive another rebuilding quite frankly. If you think the crowds are meager now, just wait now that Doc is gone. !15,000 a game now? Try 5000-8000 from now on.....Bad penny pinching job BY an owner that owns every outlet they play on(radio, cable station, cable provider) AND the stadium! Unbelievable that this will happen BUT this is when the owners only care about a substantial profit. Message to the Rogers, you are being pennywise and pound foolish.......

Anonymous said...

That was very well written. Great read and how I view the current situation as well.

MK Piatkowski said...

Tao, I agree on the need for a big scary bat (and I think we're only one away as Lind is developing nicely), I disagree that we need to trade Doc to get it.

He may be one man pitching every fifth day but I don't think we can discount the profound impact he's had on a young pitching staff. AJ Burnett credits Doc with turning him into a real pitcher and the kids get to watch how he prepares, how he handles situations, how he works. This is a value-add that cannot be replaced. This gives him a larger impact than the stats would suggest.

I remember the Fernandez trade and frankly, comparing him to Doc is comparing apples to oranges. Tony never had the impact on this club or fandom that Doc has.

Sure, give something to get something, but giving away your best asset for a pig in a poke (which is what prospects are) is a bad decision.

I'm also profoundly saddened that fandom is just lying back and accepting this. You've all given up. That's exactly what Rosenthal and his like want you to do, to be the pawns in their power game. This is exactly what pissed me off about the strike and why I left. Sorry, I buy tickets and merchandise. I'm one of the elements that make it possible for this team to exist. My opinion does matter.

I look at Doc and see how he dedicates himself to this city, this team, and his craft. I see how invested he was (thanks for killing that, Rosenthal) in building a winner here. And this is how he's rewarded. This is how we treat his dedication. I'm sorry, that's shitty and I don't want to be a part of it.

bkblades said...

I'm also profoundly saddened that fandom is just lying back and accepting this. You've all given up. That's exactly what Rosenthal and his like want you to do, to be the pawns in their power game. This is exactly what pissed me off about the strike and why I left. Sorry, I buy tickets and merchandise. I'm one of the elements that make it possible for this team to exist. My opinion does matter.

Well, I'm profoundly amazed at how much of an arrogant and pompous stance you're taking here. As if your presumptuous attitude entitles you to belittle an entire fandom for not properly loving or respecting Roy Halladay. Yes, you are the ultimate Blue Jays fan and the rest of us are mere losers, who because aren't kicking and screaming at the situation are somehow less of a fan of this team and the game of baseball than you. As if somehow, the dollars I spend on Blue Jays merchandise and tickets, are directly proportional to how much my opinion counts. I guess that means I couldn't possibly understand how much Roy Halladay loves this city and this team because I choose to see the other side to this debate and not dismiss it as a simple "Trade Doc, Yes or No" issue.

Anonymous said...

Keep clicking on the ads at DJF, so those kids can buy the team

Torgen said...

It frustrates me that the team would resort to difficult ways of winning, like trading Halladay, before easy ways of winning, like releasing dead weight like Dellucci and Millar.

Anonymous said...

Halladay and Wells 4 Kershaw and Ethier. case closed. only trade to make now or wait for the winter.

T from NY said...

Brilliant! Well written, mate.

Anonymous said...

I swing by your blog from time to time, and this post is certainly an example of why you are one of the most thoughtful Jays fans I've come across on the net. While I appreciate your thought out opinion, I have to disagree.

Roy Halladay is the rock on which you build a franchise. In a game where pitching wins championships, there is simply no way subtraction of the post Steriod Era's best pitcher is addition. There is one big factors working against a trade of Halladay, (a move you are resigned will happen, it appears). The economy:

Outside of the big markets, teams are more aware of cost than they've ever been. Why are teams going to fork over possible frachise position players (i.e. Beckham, Kershaw, etc.) who are cheap and under control in this market? Not for a year and a half of Doc, not when the vultures in NY, Boston, Chicago and LA will be all over him in 2011.

So now we come to fork in the road the Twins were at with a key difference from Minnesota. Do we settle for a substandard package just to net something for Doc? Or do we use the resource Minnesota didn't have, money. That would take Rogers' to spend the money. But this is not about "overpaying for past glories", this about keeping the best player ever to wear a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. A player who had more than one good season (as with Wells when he was lavished with money) and has shown signs he's not slowing but turning a good seven years into a Hall worthy career.

Since the strike, with 15 years of mediocrity behind us, Toronto has become like a lion locked in a zoo. It forgets all it's basic instincts, it's will to fight to hunt. From the Jays fans I have interacted with online, and at RC, everyone just seems resigned to another rebuilding plan. Are we going to give Riccardi a full decade of Blue Jays baseball with no results? If not, than why is he the man with his hand on the trigger? (Does anyone know which 5 year plan of JP's were on now?).

Nope, we sit idle, "content" with another 15 years of mediocrity, another 15 years of never willing to jump into the deep end of the pool, because we look at the summits ahead of us (Boston, New York, Tampa Bay) and we say, 'not this year, they're too tall to climb.'

We wait like fools for that perfect storm to hit. That perfect season where everyone's healthy, all our prospects grow up, and the peaks ahead of us part and allow us a piece of October baseball.

I don't think this city can handle it. I don't think baseball north of the border can handle it. Not 15 years, not in a building that's not going to be replaced anytime soon. If we don't acquire a Carter and an Alomar (and then mind you find our Key, Guzman, Molitor etc.) than I think the loss of Doc puts us one huge step closer to joining our friends in Montreal with no baseball.

The Blue Jays biggest supporter is dead (RIP Mr. Rogers). We need to get serious about what it exactly means to lose our rock when the rest of foundation is drifting downstream.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd from above: Should have signed some sort of name after my long post. While I do not blog, I do post under the name jayz9987 at the message board, in case anyone bumps into me over there.

Weezy said...

Wow, nice post Tao. I view this very uncomfortable situation the same way. I don't understand why some fans believe this automatically signals a rebuild. Could the reasons for JP's desire to trade Halladay be because he simply knows Halladay won't resign? If this is true, than JP is doing exactly the right thing.

Joanna said...

So, how long do we have to wait to win? They have been saying since '93 that they can do it again, but how much longer do we wait? Cause, all due respect, this resigned "I guess that's fate" stuff is bullshit. And fuck it. Cause some teams do this, trade all their pricey talent and get prospects. The Marlins have done it very successfully. But you know, the Marlins wait until they win the World Series to do it. They don't finish 4th and cash in their chips.

And by the way, JP has no idea whether Doc will resign. He might have an idea or an intuition. But the only one who actually knows is Doc, and he is the biggest idiot on the planet if he shares that info with JP.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

@jayz9987, Joanna, the sense of frustration is so high with this situation. The rogers have the money to resign Doc an build a wineer BUT they are shortsighted. Once again, JP is in charge of another rebuild! Unh? This makes no sense at all. If people think they are not rebuilding I have a brisge to sell you in BRooklyn. You don't trade the best pitcher in baseball BECAUSE you are a contender! Ultimately, I think that the Rogers are destroying the franchise unwittingly. They need to get a new GM ASAP because we've had our own version of Ed Wade(has been a gM with Philly and Houston for something like 10 years and not made the playoffs!, at least in Philly they would be one game away or sniffed them) in Toronto for almost 8 years. To let him trade Doc is a shame. Let a new GM handle this job, who will have a different plan like MacPhail in Baltimore because quite frankly enough is enough with JP's defeatist and lying ways.

The Ack said...

Directed at MK and Joanna, I guess, re: "lying back and accepting it".....

Just what exactly would you like us to do? Picket the Rogers corporate office demanding a payroll increase to $120M?

And since that's obviously not going to happen, how do you propose we convince Doc that the team can win, with the roster as currently constructed (& resources allocated COUGH wells contract COUGH).

To suggest that he might re-sign under these conditions, and that nobody knows what the answer would be, is a little (a lot?) naive. Doc is 32. His next contract will likely be the last bigtime payday of his career. 5 years-$100M. He wants to win. He's said as much many times over. Do you realistically think that both of those goals can be accomplished in Toronto, as things stand? Doc and Wells on the books for a combined $40M after 2010? That would be, you know, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40%-50% of the team's total payroll, if we're talking a $80M-$100M total. And I fear that's being optimistic, given the ominous tones from the front office of late.

Look, I think from my posts that it's pretty obvious this is breaking me up. But it's also pretty obvious, given Doc's increasingly apparent desire to move on, and ownership's increasingly apparent desire to reduce payroll, that the course of action is to maximize the return.

It fucking sucks. But that's looking like the reality of the situation. I'm not turning in my Blue Jays card, though. Fuck that.

"The possibility exists that the foundation of next great Blue Jays team - the one we've waited for since 1993 - is waiting for us, just the other side of this potential Halladay trade."

That's something, anyway.

Drew said...

@Bruno -- Ed Wade built the core of the WFC champion Phillies, let's not slurp Gillick so hard as to obscure the truth.

As it relates to Rogers, if they invested an extra $50 million into payroll and the Jays made the playoffs, what kind of return would they see? None is the answer.

If the Jays are in first place on September 1st, do you think that building sells out every night? No shot. Even if it does, the team still won't make money. No business will dump money down a hole when the return is assuredly negative. That doesn't mean the end of baseball in Toronto, the baseball ops people need to adapt the business model and change the way the operate. With so many teams attempting to operate the same way, it's hard to be good at it.

The corporation will continue to run the team as an arm of their business, one they expect to operate near profitability. Huge payroll increases and pennant chases won't change that.

Joanna said... aren't turning in your Jays card or whatever...

What the fuck? You realise if you look at it this way, you are cheering for the company that rips you off with your cellphone, right? That it's a business. I don't cheer for this team because they are a good business investment. Who the fuck cheers about a business? Who makes blogs, signs, podcasts, who shows up to the stadium and cheers for a business? That's damn bleak, people.

And no, I don't think protesting Rogers will do anything, but at least cry bullshit.

The Ack said...

Of course I cry bullshit. As much as Rogers likes to proclaim the Jays are run and viewed as a stand-alone business, I'd love to see how they attribute the value that owning the team brings to their other interests, whether it's content for Sportsnet, advertising for cell phones, etc. I'm pretty sure the Jays financial statements aren't reflecting fair value there. So of course it's bullshit.

But it's also the reality we face. And MLB reality is that the majority of teams are run this way. Would I like to see an owner step up who operates the club as as a toy instead of a business? Of course. Is it likely to happen? Not in my opinion.

I don't see any logic to your statement that I'm cheering for "Rogers" instead of the "Blue Jays", by the way. You're twisting shit up.

So short of crying bullshit, what are we to do? Are you going to quit watching? Shut down your blog? There's no easy answers here. Like I said, it fucking sucks to even be in this position.

Drew said...

I'd rather take a full view and understand what I've got myself into than pound my head off the wall.

I don't care if Rogers makes money, but Rogers does. They're going to operate the team on that basis. I need to roll with the punches.

Tampa shows you CAN win if you run a disciplined organization with shrewdness, good fortune and intelligence. JP is good at one of those things, occasionally negligent of another and skull fucked by the third. I'll let you decide which is which.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

@ DRew where do I mention Gillick ? I mentioned the fact that Wade never had made the playoffs with the Phils. You must be thinking of someone else? I never made the point you are talking about!BUT now that you mentioned Gillick....he made certain tweaks to get them over the hill. Certain things that Wade was not savvy enough to have done. It was a big thing in Philly, that he was GM for so long and no playoffs. If you use your mentality Dan Duquette was the mastermind behind the 2004 REd Sox comeback, since he built the core of that team....NOT! Anyway MY POINT was this: at least the Phils were very close and sniffed the playoffs when he was there. ON the other hand, the Jays have sniffed anything but shit since JP has been here!I never mentioned Gillick, stop putting words in my mouth.......

Drew are you a prophet? How the hell do you know that if they mount a run in Sept people won't show up? Are you psychic? If they can mount a run AND make a playoff run , frontrunners will show up,pure and simple. Not if the weenies at Rogers make a fucking profit! Fans wants to see wins, not the quarterly report!

Drew said...

I'm saying even if they do show up it won't make that great an impact in Rogers financial reports.

Fans don't care about profits but if Rogers doesn't care about wins until wins mean profit. I don't know that the connection is so direct.

DaveC said...

This comments section could use a rousing round of kum-ba-yah.

I think continuing to be angry at what's likely inevitable is counterproductive. I love Doc, and I've had my healthy expression of anger at the possibility of trading him. But Tao nails this... we may as well get ready. The clock is ticking.

We love Roy Halladay, but we also love the Jays, come hell or high water, even if the ownership runs it more like a corporation than a sports team.

Let's save our hatred for those that deserve it... like Joba Chamberlain and Dustin Pedroia.

MK Piatkowski said...

Except that management has said that fear of a fan backlash has factored into their decision. So I'll be damned if I'm going to do anything that makes it easier for them. If me and enough others threatening to leave can make a difference, then I'm willing to put my butt on the line. I will not be resigned.

Anonymous said...

Hello !.
You re, I guess , probably very interested to know how one can make real money .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may commense to get income with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you need
The company incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with offices everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become really rich in short time?
That`s your chance That`s what you desire!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to get real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to select a correct partner who uses your money in a right way - that`s it!.
I make 2G daily, and my first investment was 500 dollars only!
It`s easy to start , just click this link
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to become rich

Anonymous said...

Good day, sun shines!
There have were times of hardship when I didn't know about opportunities of getting high yields on investments. I was a dump and downright stupid person.
I have never imagined that there weren't any need in large starting capital.
Now, I'm happy and lucky , I begin to get real money.
It gets down to select a proper companion who uses your funds in a right way - that is incorporate it in real deals, and shares the income with me.

You may get interested, if there are such firms? I have to tell the truth, YES, there are. Please be informed of one of them:
[url=] Online investment blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone!
I would like to burn a theme at here. There is such a nicey, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of ponzy-like structure, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

For quite a long time, I make money with the help of these programs.
I don't have problems with money now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I make 2G daily, and I started with funny 500 bucks.
Right now, I managed to catch a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Turn to my blog to get additional info. [url=]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.