There’s Smoke on Halladay

I’m not saying Doug Melvin is about to lock in a trade for Roy Halladay, but it is clear the Brewers are very serious about trying to land the ace. And it’s Melvin’s increasing levels of vagueness that are tipping his hand.

Does anyone else recall last season when Brewers GM Doug Melvin repeatedly denied the Brewers and Indians were closing in on a deal for CC Sabathia? For a little refresher, here’s a blurb from an article that was printed less than a week before Melvin finalized that trade last year:

Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin laughed Monday when asked if his team really was the leader in the C.C. Sabathia Sweepstakes.

“Just the same old rumors,” Melvin said.

Sound familiar?

Most Brewers fans should know by now that Melvin is the master of deception on trade dealings. He won’t lie, but to truly get to the bottom of trade discussions, you have to read between the lines of what he’s saying.

First off, if there is no possibility of a trade or no interest in a trade on the Brewers part, Melvin will flat out say that. In this case, he has actually admitted there is interest.

Melvin will also indicate whether he’s had discussions with a certain team, which usually helps determine the Brewers interest. He has admitted the Brewers and Blue Jays are discussing Halladay.

But the most telling characteristics seem to be that the closer Melvin gets to a deal, the more he shoots down the possibilities of trades in the media and the more he speaks in generalities. In this case, he’s been noticeably vague and less than optimistic, especially this week:

  • July 8: “When a general manager says he is listening to offers, yeah, I’ll call,” said Melvin. “I haven’t called yet.”
  • July 17: “We’ve had a conversation with them. I don’t want to get into the details. I don’t want to characterize it at this point.”
  • July 17: “I’ve said it would be highly unlikely (to trade either Alcides Escobar or Mat Gamel),” Melvin said. “They are as ‘untouchable’ as any player can be. I don’t want to say anything more.”
  • July 19: “I know what their expectations are and I don’t know if I want to meet them,” said Melvin, who has said he does not want to trade Gamel of shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar. “Teams are asking a lot for pitching.”

Another sign that this is more than a passing interest on the Brewers part is how Journal-Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt is covering the rumors. There might not be anyone closer to the team (without being employed by them) than Haudricourt. Earlier this season, he basically said there was absolutely no chance of the Brewers pulling off a deal for Halladay. Take a look at how quickly he’s changed his mind over the past couple weeks:

  • July 8: “Melvin said Wednesday he would make a call to Toronto’s J.P. Ricciardi, who announced he will listen to offers for ace Roy Halladay.”
  • July 11: “If Brewers general manager Doug Melvin holds true to his promise of not trading top prospects Mat Gameland Escobar, don’t look for Roy Halladay to be wearing a Milwaukee uniform in the second half.”
  • July 17: “Melvin has said he considered Gamel and Escobar “untouchables” in any trade talks but hedged ever so slightly on that characterization Friday.”
  • July 17: “Because I knew what Toronto would want in exchange for right-hander Roy Halladay, I initially thought the Brewers had no chance of jumping into the bidding. But, after speaking with general manager Doug Melvin today about Halladay, I’m not so sure.”
  • July 17: “So, it’s obvious the Brewers are looking at all the angles regarding Halladay, which indicates more than casual interest. Whether they would pony up what it would take to get him, much less outbid other serious suitors, remains to be seen. But it seems as if they are kicking the tires pretty hard.”
  • July 18: “The Brewers see themselves as a perennial contender in the NL Central. Let’s see if they can convince Halladay of that and come up with an acceptable package for the Blue Jays.”
  • July 19 via Twitter: “Dick Groch, the top scouting asst. to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, is in Toronto today, watching Halladay pitch. Brewers definitely interested.”
  • July 19: “When Groch is around, the Brewers have serious interest.”

The national media has even started to notice the Brewers as serious suitors for Halladay. Within just the last couple days, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has said, “The Brewers are one of the teams flying under the radar for Roy Halladay” and  Danny Knobler of CBS Sports has said, “The latest news is that the Brewers were set to have two high-level emissaries at the Rogers Centre Sunday, when Halladay faced (and beat) the Red Sox.”

I don’t know that a deal will get made (in fact, I’d still say it’s unlikely), but there is definitely “smoke” on these trade talks. The Brewers are more than a casual suitor here. They are most likely preparing an offer for Toronto, if they haven’t already made one. And we’ll know within the next 10 days or so if it’ll be enough.

In the meantime, the debate will rage among Brewers fans (much like with CC last year) if Halladay is worth the high price he’ll command in a trade…

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14 Responses to “There’s Smoke on Halladay”

  1. Scoottage Cheese Says:

    Nicely done. There hasn’t been a blog out there that dug up old/current Melvin & TH quotes and compared them to the present situation.

    Do you remember last year when Melvin said he wasn’t done dealing yet…? This after making the trade for CC? That led the Brewers to bringing in, yet another, 2B in Ray Durham.
    With yesterday’s news of the Brewers acquiring Felipe Lopez…well….I’m just saying. Only this time, Melvin reversed it and brought in a 2B first.

    If they don’t land Halladay, I would imaine that they would still make a deal for #4 type guy, OR a solid reliever.
    It’s not so much the pitching as it is the hitting, at this point.

  2. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    I’d like to see them trade for Halladay, no doubt…. But what are they thinking for prospects? Probably all the good pitchers out of Wisconsin, Gamel or Escobar… man, I hate to think what they’d ask.

    We got off easy with the CC trade, it seems.

  3. steve Says:

    I’m with Scoottage on the solid reliever. What good is a starting pitcher if your relievers blow the game? They would be risking a lot of talent to bring in Halladay who would probably wind up with a bunch of no-decisions. I’m against this trade.

  4. Kade in Dubuque Says:

    The National League is so down this year I think you have to try and pull the trigger on this one. Do the Dodgers scare you? No what about the Phillies not really. I am always for proven commodities over expectations. Right now we are fine at the positions Gamel and Escobar play. Also, maybe if they do this Braun will get out of his little funk. If this is all they are asking you pull it right away. Although I would see if maybe they would trade Gerut for some Syrup.

  5. Tyler Says:

    As a Jays fan, I can’t help but think that Roy Halladay would fit perfectly in Milwaukee. And for Brewers fans, you can gurantee that Halladay will be back next year. However, the Brewers are going to have to be willing to part with a lot of prospects. I have to think that Ricciardi will ask for a pitcher as well, aside from Gamel and Escobar.

  6. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    Tyler-

    You won’t get Gamel AND Escobar. You’d get Gamel or Escobar, and if it’s Escobar, i’d not be surprised if you get Taylor Green, too, as I see your countryman Brett Lawrie eventually being a 3rd baseman.

    How does Gamel, JJ Hardy, and couple of arms sound?

  7. Jared Says:

    D’Amico,

    I think your proposal (Hardy, Gamel and another prospect or two) is probably about what it would take. And based on some recent rumblings that Hardy might be available “in the right deal,” I think an offer like that might be what the Brewers are considering offering.

    I’m going to try to make a post on the subject of trading J.J. later tonight.

  8. Jared Says:

    And, yeah, there’s no way the Jays get Gamel and Escobar from the Brewers for Halladay.

    In fact, I don’t see the Brewers involving Escobar in any trade discussions. They’re way too high on him.

  9. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    Jared-

    That’s what i was thinking, too. Escobar is younger, (apparently) better defensively, and hits for contact and low power, whereas Hardy has pretty much shown us what he is- good defense, average at the plate with plus power for a shortstop. I think Mcgehee’s play this year combined with the promise of Taylor Green and very probably Brett Lawrie makes Mat Gamel expendable. I could see McGehee as a long-term brewer, possibly at third, though i don’t think his arm is suited for it.

    A top of the order of Lopez, Escobar, and Braun is a heck of a lot better than one of Kendall/Counsell and whoever they throw in the two hole (as there really is not #2 hitter on the team… Hart should have been but he’s so blasted inconsistent it’s not fun or funny).

    My concern is the kind of arms they’d be giving up. I could easily see them giving up two of the Peralta/Scarpetta/Fredrickson trio from Appleton, and with the organization drought for pitching prospects it would be a shame to lose those guys, especially Scarpetta or Peralta. I could see Braddock and maybe even a Timmy Dillard as filler in the trade, too.

  10. Kade in Dubuque Says:

    To restate my point…. The NL is bad and the NL Central even worse if you get the doc you become the favorite in the division and also a serious National League contender isnt that the goal? who knows if we will be any good in 3-4 years I wanna be good now you have an oppourtunity the door is wide open step up and take advantage.

  11. theBrouhaha Says:

    I second what Kade says. Why mortgage our present for the sake of the future! Money is for spending! Go big or go home!

  12. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    Kade-

    I don’t disagree with you- in fact, i’d rather have Doc Halladay and at least get into the playoffs, which is something i don’t think this team can do by itself (barring a Cards/Cubs meltdown). I wouldn’t have a serious problem if they traded ANYONE in the farm system except for Lawrie or Escobar (and I really,really like Gamel… and there are a few guys here in the Fox Valley that i would be sad to see leave the system- Scarpetta and Peralta, specifically). I say make the trade… There are always prospects, right? There’s a draft next year, again, and you never know who will rise through the system to be a productive player.

    There was a very good article that i read (off of the RSS reader here on RFB) that made a good point, though… While money is for spending, yes, Halladay’s contract is a rather large one, limiting the moves the Brewers could make. I doubt Cam will be back next year, and it’s very possible that Kendall will be gone (either through him leaving or being pushed aside for LuCroy or Salome)… But the point is that obtaining Halladay would put the Brewers in a finanical pinch. I think we can all agree that the Brewers need more than just an (admittedly wonderful) starting pitcher.

    I do think, though, that Halladay is an appreciably better pitcher than anyone currently in the rotation….

  13. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    Someone get Grandpa Macha his meds….

    http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090720&content_id=5958710&vkey=news_mil&fext=.jsp&c_id=mil

    REALLY?!?! You THINK you’ll play him at second?

    Listen, Geezer… I know back in your day, when it was stylish to put an onion in your belt, the theory of the “Platoon” was a good thing. And i know that Lopez can play pretty much every position on the field. But please, PLEASE… have Lopez at second, McGehee at third, and AgroCraig back as a utility guy…. Please? I’ll buy you a Metamucil!

  14. Flames! With Toy Says:

    Flames! With Toy…

    I’m not saying Doug Melvin is about to lock in a trade for Roy Halladay but it is clear the Br [...]…

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