The Toronto Blue Jays Are More Than Just One Player

Ed SchultheisContributor IJuly 25, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 04:  Roy Halladay #32 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the New York Yankees on July 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I have been a Blue Jays fan for as long as I can remember. And that means something, because I grew up in Baltimore, amongst a family of Baltimore Orioles fans.

I'm not going to lie. I think I was drawn to the powder blue uniforms of the mid-80s that did it for me.

But whatever "it" was, it stuck.

And I got to enjoy the great years of Blue Jays baseball. I coaxed my parents to drive up to Toronto multiple times just so I could see the Jays play in person, many of those times while they were taking on the Orioles.

Sure I go to see the Jays every time they come to Camden Yards, but there is something about rooting for the home team. That and I still get ridiculed at Oriole Park when I wear my Jays jersey. Yeah, I get it, "Cito Sucks," you don't have to keep yelling at me over something that happened 16 years ago.

I lived through the great times, when the Jays were drawing fifty thousand people a game, and the team was a powerhouse in the American League.

And I've lived through the bad times, when the Jays boasted 3 consecutive Cy Young Award winners, but still finished well out of the playoff picture. We'll just group all those years as the wonderful Gord Ash era of Blue Jays baseball.

Then along came J.P. Ricciardi, a man who I thought was going to continue the Jays upward climb that had been started in the early 2000's. And by most accounts, he did for awhile. But before long, you couldn't tell if they were rebuilding or making a run for it.

In the end, Ricciardi seemed not to be truly shooting for the top of the AL East, but was merely content with not being last or just shooting for .500. I mean the way that he and the players talked, you would have thought we had won the Series when the Jays finished in second place in 2006, only to continue to tread water in the following years.

So when it became public a few weeks ago, that Ricciardi was willing to listen to trade offers for Roy Halladay, I was devastated. Here we have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, a true number one starter, and Ricciardi is going to sell him away.

I vowed, right then and there, that if they traded this guy, that I would be taking a break from the team that I had loved these twenty-some years. I mean we are talking about the first player that could actually make it into the Hall of Fame as a Toronto Blue Jay.

But then, after the emotion had died down, I realized that as stupid as it sounds, the Jays need to trade Halladay. In fact, if the Tampa Bay Rays have taught us anything, it is that you can't tread water and expect to get better.

The prime example of what the Blue Jays are destined to become is the Baltimore Orioles. Since they went wire-to-wire in 1997, they haven't had a winning season. It took them until 2008 to realize that they weren't going to win treading water, or taking on stupid contracts (Sammy Sosa, anyone?), but they would have to start over from scratch.

They traded away Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada, and those young prospects are set to be the base of the franchise for years to come. The Orioles learned from their mistakes, and they are continuing to improve, even to the point where Baltimore fans are getting excited about Orioles baseball again.

The Jays need to do this, and quick, before they start taking on too much water.

I hate to say it, but the Jays need to fire Ricciardi. He has had the job for seven years, and not a single playoff appearance to show for it. Sure, you can't blame the injuries on him. But you can blame the contracts of AJ Burnett, BJ Ryan and Troy Glaus on him.

All of them were signed in a mad dash of spending to push the Jays over the top. All of them are no longer playing for the Blue Jays, even though they will be paying for Ryan next season as well.

Today, even with one of the greatest pitchers in baseball today, the Jays are three games under .500 and 12.5 games out in the East. What does this tell us? That the Jays are over-performing!

Think how bad their record would have been without Roger Clemens or Pat Hentgen those Cy Young years. How bad would the Jays have really been without AJ Burnett and Roy Halladay last year? They accounted for 44% of all of the Jays' wins last season. If that isn't an inflated winning percentage, I don't know what is.

The Blue Jays and their fans have been insulated from seeing how bad the team has become because they have had a pitcher or pitchers that hid the imperfections better than anyone else could.

So what will happen if the Jays trade away Halladay? They'll fail, of course. No one has the ability to step up and win 20 games as the ace of the squad.

But in that failure, changes can be made.

Prospects can be brought in and a rebirth process can actually start, as opposed to the dumping water out of sinking ship that the Jays have been doing these past 5 or 6 years.

Sure, it will be painful, for me, and for all other Jays fans, but hopefully, in a few years, we will be able to reap the benefits, just like the Orioles did with Bedard and the Indians did with Bartolo Colon, a few years before.

But at least we could then have hope. Hope that we could become the Rays and emerge from the "pit of suckage" with a solid core of young players to shock the Yankees and Red Sox.

What we shouldn't have to settle for is hope that we can play .500 baseball for a season. And then be happy when we come in third place, 16 games out of first place.

I don't think that is what hope is supposed to feel like.