With only a year and half remaining on his current contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team has decided to shop Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roy Halladay in an effort to take the franchise in another direction (which would be down) knowing they cannot afford to re-sign at the end of the 2010 season.
Halladay, perhaps one of the top-five pitchers in the game over the last seven seasons, is a franchise difference maker to whoever is willing to pay the steep price to acquire is services. Acquiring Halladay from the Blue Jays will more than likely deplete any interested club’s minor league system of their future stars.
Chances are Halladay would reject a trade to the non-contending Orioles if they were even entertaining the idea of trading him to a divisional foe.
So, why even discuss the possibility of Halladay becoming an Oriole if the scenario surrounding the thought is minute?
Because the goal in professional sports is to win! Although making money is important, success on the field and pride are also meaningful to millionaire owners who succeeded in life by taking chances and going for the jugular.
The Baltimore Orioles, a once proud mid-market major league team, are on the verge of suffering their 12th consecutive losing season under the ownership of Peter Angelos.
Under Angelos, the Orioles are about one thing, making money. For most clubs, putting a winning product on the field translates to increased revenue. From increased tickets sales to parking fees to merchandise, winning breeds financial success.
However, this is not your typical owner. Angelos, who made his fortune settling asbestos lawsuits, lost the battle in preventing the MLB from moving the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C., and reducing the O's fan base.
But, he won the war, working out a television deal to create a baseball network that included both the O’s and the Nationals. (There is more involved, but you get the picture.)
In 2008, The Orioles’ attendance dropped to below two million for the first time in 20 years; however, the team is benefiting financially from the Nationals' existence. Until Angelos’s agreement with MLB and the Nationals expires, the team is content on floundering in the basement of the American League East.
The Orioles are slowly headed in the right direction with young stars like outfielders Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and catcher Matt Wieters locked up contractually for a several years.
With few quality pitchers at the major league level and years away from sending a quality stud up from the ranks of their minor leagues, the Orioles could be a basement dweller for the next five years unless they make a move that changes the direction of the club dramatically.
Indulge me for a while, and allow me to paint a scenario that could happen under the right circumstances. This won't happen because, financially, the Orioles don’t have to make such a move. (Again, professional sports is about winning!)
Let’s assume Orioles owner Peter Angelos was tired of losing and instructed his baseball operations staff to pursue Halladay and turn this franchise around. Still prudent when it comes to spending, Angelos gives his staff the green light to spend money, but do so within reason.
Now, Halladay—who only wants to pitch for a contender and has control over his future with a no-trade clause-is a reasonable man.
If the Orioles asked the Blue Jays for permission to discuss a long-term deal with Halladay and whispered in his ear CC Sabathia-type money while promising to pursue additional talent to surround the young stars they already have in place, why wouldn’t he consider the O’s as an option?
Assuming Halladay would entertain the thought of becoming an Oriole, now the team would have to find a way to acquire him.
Options available for the Orioles to send to Toronto in a package could include closer George Sherrill, budding OF Nolan Reimold, young promising pitchers in Brian Bass and Matt Albers, and minor league INF Justin Turner.
So the Blue Jays are interested, but it will cost the Orioles all of the above-mentioned names. A steep price to pay and the team could possibly be mortgaging their future. But where are they going now? What signs of life has this team showed?
Halladay immediately provides the Orioles with superstar presence they haven’t had since Ripken left. The fans will start to come back slowly, and free agents are now aware that the O’s want to build a winner now.
This future Hall-of-Famer could have a Greg Maddux-like effect on the team’s entire pitching staff. Modeling the work ethic and professionalism of a Cy Young Award winner, the young Orioles arms can only improve.
Still, all the pieces aren’t in place to compete with the big boys up north. During the offseason, the O’s would have to land a replacement at third for the powerless Mora (Hank Blalock), at shortstop (Jack Wilson), and some veteran pitching help. (If Jason Marquis can lead the majors in wins in Colorado, the O’s can find a few inexpensive gems.)
If all these scenarios played out according to plan and the Orioles acquired all the players they needed to improve the team including Halladay, could they compete year after year with the Yankees and Red Sox for the American League East title? No, they still wouldn’t be good enough!
The Orioles have to hope the Red Sox and Yankees get old simultaneously and invest big money on players who fail to produce. Meanwhile, they have to continue to build from within and hope the next Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray are in their organization somewhere.
So, why this long drawn-out article that for a while gave some Orioles fans hope? I am trying to show readers how far the Orioles are from competing and why they aren’t even trying to at this time.