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Bluebird Banter Trade Deadline Roundtable, Part I

Hugo:  Hi, everyone, and welcome to Bluebird Banter's trade-deadline roundtable!  It would be great if you could all introduce yourselves briefly, for any new readers.  I'm Hugo, I write from Washington D.C., where Mrs. Hugo, our 2-year-old daughter, and I catch as many Jays-Nationals and Jays-Orioles games as possible.

Tom: I'm Tom Dakers, from Calgary, Alberta. Married and have 3 boys. Unfortunately getting to games isn't quite as easy from here.

Jesse: I'm Jesse and I live in New Jersey.  I'm not married so I try to brave the traffic to make it to Blue Jays games at Yankee Stadium whenever possible, though the cost of tickets is somewhat prohibitive in 2009, I am looking forward to a September game I have tickets to.

JohnnyG: I'm John and I live in London, Ontario. I am married and I have two beautiful baby twin girls that just turned 1 on the 4th of July. London is about 2 hours from Toronto so going to the games is a possibility however costs and life issues tend to get in the way and I am not sure if I am going to make it to one this year. Luckily being in the Toronto Region I get all 162 games from the Jays televised whether it is on TSN, Sportsnet or the Rogers Preview Channel. I also just want to thank Hugo, Tom and Jesse for inviting me to join in on this discussion. It means a lot so thank you.

Hugo:  Thanks to you all for your very kind participation. 

Hugo:  The Jays are caught in a bit of an awkward situation this trade deadline.  The team has made some progress this season, with some young players really stepping up and some veterans playing beyond expectations, but ultimately the results haven't been there yet.  What does that mean for the team going forward?  Is it time to blow the team up and start over, or should the Jays be looking to retool for a run in 2010? 

Tom: I'd prefer not to blow the team up, I can see trading some guys like Frasor and Rolen because I don't see their trade value being any higher than it is right now.

Jesse: I agree with Tom.  I don't see a reason why this team can't make a good run in 2010.  That doesn't mean there aren't questions for next year, but I don't see the point in blowing up a team that really isn't all that bad.

JohnnyG: I like the look of the team going forward with Marcum and Litsch and (hopefully) McGowan returning. Even if Halladay were to leave via trade I don't think that means it is time for a full blow up of the team. Rolen is awesome but as Tom said he value has never been higher, same with Frasor. Bullpen guys can be found easily enough just look at us this year, who would of thought that Hayhurst would be an effective reliever. Bottom Line, The Jays should look to retool for the upcoming years, not just 2010, but that does not necessarily mean blow it up, they have plenty of good starting pieces already. I am of the mind that while I have the greatest of optimism for 2010, that does not necessarily mean that I think we will be good enough next year. Again that doesn't mean blow it up, but re-tooling can be for 2010 through 2012. 


Hugo:  I like the idea of making some moves without blowing up the team.  It's by no means a sure thing that the Jays will contend in 2010, but you have to like the young talent that has emerged this season.  If that continues through the second half and next season, the Jays could very well contend - particularly with Doc and a recovered Marcum, an established Romero, and an emerging Cecil leading the rotation.  That said, the Jays have obvious short- and long-term organizational needs coming into next season so it would be foolish not to look at filling them.  


Hugo:  Here's a big one - should the Jays be looking to trade Roy Halladay?  If so, what should they be looking to get in return? 

Tom: I'd rather they wait until the off season, I think it would be easier to evaluate what they would be getting in return without the emotion of the season clouding judgement.

Jesse: Unless someone really blows them away with an offer, I don't think they should make a deal until at least around the All Star Break next season.  The first reason I prefer a midseason deal is because the Jays can opt not to trade him if they are playing well, whereas if they trade him in the offseason and play well, we will be stuck thinking about what if we hadn't traded him (ditto for trading him now).  The second reason I prefer trading him during the season to making an offseason deal is that Halladay is going to be the type of upgrade that will make good teams great -- those upgrades can be had during the offseason (even if it means upgrading at multiple positions) but are few and far between mid-season. 

JohnnyG: Ugh, I am of two minds on this one and let me tell you I do not envy the position that JP is in. The fan part of me who wants to be irrational about the whole thing wants to punch anyone just for mentioning a possible trade. That part of me wants Halladay to sign long term and retire a Jay. The rational thinking business side of my brain makes me believe that it is the right time for a trade. Halladay's value is sky high at the moment and the return should be just as high. Trading Halladay should net at least two MLB ready (or close to ready) prospects and two high potential prospects that are a couple of seasons away. All in all the more I think about it, the more I think it is time for it to happen. Delgado, Green and Alomar were all fan favorites and are gone. This happens to every major league team. Now I know what it was like to be a Twins fan when Santana was traded, that had to hurt.

Hugo:  It must have especially hurt for the Twins, though, that the season they traded Santana, he could have still been with the team and they ended up missing the playoffs by not even one game (they lost a one-game playoff to Chicago).  With Santana, they would almost certainly have been in the playoffs and competing for the World Series.  I have a somewhat irrational fear that if the Jays move Doc the same thing will happen.  Worst of all, the Twins didn't get a heck of a lot for Johan - I really think that is a cautionary tale.  I'm not opposed to the idea of moving Doc, but it would have to be a special return - the kind of return where the Jays get more than one player who alters the team's long-term picture. 


Hugo:  Assuming the Jays do make a trade, who or what should they be targeting in return?  Be as specific or as general as you want. 

Tom: Some major league ready prospects. Some power bats. A power bat for either corner infield spot would be a good start, I like Rolen and Overbay but someone one that could get us 25 homers in the next couple of years would be great. Course, who is going to trade you guys like that? I know you can never have too much pitching but our rotation doesn't look to be our major problem, going into the second half of the season or next season.


Jesse: I would like to see them receiving at least one "super-prospect" (basically someone who is both MLB-ready and has an high ceiling), as well as one MLB-ready low-ceiling and one low-level prospect with an high ceiling.  Giving up Doc is giving up two first round draft picks, so it would be nice to stock the farm system with at least one or two low-level prospects as well.

JohnnyG: Didn't we kinda go over this is the last question? Unless you mean just in general for trade targets. In that case I think it is remarkable similar. The Jays should be looking to add a couple of younger high level prospects, preferably shortstop, 3B and 1B, At least one should be a power type hitter. The problem being of course that this is fairly common knowledge of where the team lacks depth and other teams don't exactly give up top prospects for nothing. Of course a team can never have too much pitching despite what some commentators on and will say.  The Jays' depth on the pitching staff was needed this year. 

Hugo:  I agree - young position players are really what the team needs - there is a real dearth of them in the Jays' system.  

Tom: I guess the other question is what we do about the catchers spot, do we hope that Arencibia will be good enough to play for the team next year? Do we sign Rod Barajas for another year to have him share with Arencibia. The problem then, with Cito as manager, Arencibia won't play.  I guess we could go the rest of the year and see if Arencibia develops, but if we made our trades now and don't pick up a catcher, we could be in an interesting spot. Would he be that much worse than Barajas?

JohnnyG: Barajas has worked out wonderfully for us, but I am not sure Arencibia will be ready next year. I wouldn't be opposed to signing Barajas for another year. There are a couple of free agents that should be low cost to slot into a backup / competition spot with Barajas. Kendall, Redmond from the Twins and both Benji and Jose Molina will be available next year although I am not sure Benji would be cheap considering he has had a couple of decent seasons with the Giants.

Hugo:  Great point.  I think the thing to do is offer Rod a very similar deal to his current one - another 1-year deal with an option, with a modest raise from his last contract.  That way we have Rod start next season as the starter and Arencibia hopefully take the job by the end of the season, after which point we can decide whether it is worth it to bring Rod back or not.  If Rod turns it down, we can offer a similar veteran catcher the same deal.  That way we cover ourselves if Arencibia doesn't develop as quickly as some of us are hoping.  If Arencibia explodes out of the gate, so what - you have a slightly overpaid backup in Barajas for 2010 and then you don't exercise the option. 

Tom: I guess Rod isn't impressing me much at the moment, I know he has a bad leg, but his numbers are .252/.286/.405, not exactly impressive.  He is a streak hitter and could go on a great run and bring his numbers up to something decent but his slumps are so deep.

JohnnyG: He is very streaky, but I still think it would be a better option then having Arencibia in the majors next year, The guy seems overmatched this year in AAA so I don't think he is ready at all. In addition I would add that if the team itself is not sold on Barajas (which I don't think is the case. I think the Jays are high on Barajas with his work with the pitchers and general feel with the team) there are other similar veteran catchers available starting next year.

Hugo:  Join us next time for Part II, and of course add your own thoughts in the comments!