Miller: Weekend Buzz
NEW YORK -- J.P. Ricciardi didn't say he'll trade Roy Halladay.
He also didn't say he wouldn't.
In fact, as the Blue Jays' general manager looked ahead to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, what he said Sunday was, "We have to be open to anything."
|Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay would come with a high price tag. (US Presswire)|
And while that doesn't mean Ricciardi is ready to sell Halladay off to the highest bidder, it sure does sound like he's willing to listen.
"We have to see what makes us better," he said. "Obviously, if people have interest in Roy Halladay, they'd better realize there's a steep price that's going to come with it."
It's not that much different from what Ricciardi has said before. If anything has changed, it's only that the fast-starting Jays have faded some, to the point where it's hard to see them being a true contender in the American League East.
Ricciardi said he's not willing to declare himself a seller yet. He said he wants to see how the Blue Jays play this week, when they follow their series at Yankee Stadium with one against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
But with three straight losses to the Yankees over the weekend, the Jays are now 4-11 against the three teams ahead of them. Not only that, but more than half their remaining games (39 of 79) are against those same three teams -- the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Rays.
The Blue Jays are still over .500, and they're still close enough to the top that players can talk optimistically about beating the big boys.
"Look at the Rays last year," second baseman Aaron Hill said. "Why can't we be that team? There's not a guy on the team that doesn't believe it. We've run through a little rough skid right now, but every team does."
It's nice that they believe, but it would be easier to believe in the Blue Jays if they didn't keep putting pitchers on the disabled list. Or if they played in any division other than the AL East.
As it is, they look like a team that will be hard-pressed to challenge the big three in the East.
They also look like a team that won't have the money to buy their way back into contention. Toronto's payroll this year is $80 million, and the Jays don't expect it to rise significantly next year.
"We have to be smart with how we can build our team," Ricciardi said. "We have to be open to anything, really."
Even Roy Halladay, as long as teams know that the price tag would be very high.
The other stories to watch this week:
The great Hughes debate? Phil Hughes was always going to be the Yankees' insurance policy against a starting pitcher getting hurt. He was always going to be the guy they called on.
|Phil Hughes has found his stride since going to the bullpen. (Getty Images)|
And Hughes is not going to take his place.
Manager Joe Girardi says the main issue is that since Hughes has been pitching out of the bullpen, he isn't built-up enough to throw enough pitches to start. But there's another issue, and one that brings back memories of the great Joba Chamberlain debate.
Quite simply, Hughes has thrived in relief, with a 1.23 ERA in 10 appearances. He's throwing harder than he did as a starter, and he's even throwing his breaking ball harder (76 mph, compared to 71 when he started).
"He's just so much more aggressive," said one scout who watched Hughes recently.
So, down the line, is Hughes a starter or a reliever?
"I still believe he is a starter," Girardi said Sunday. "I think his stuff right now plays out well in both, but I think he's been really, really good in the bullpen and has been really helpful for us, and that's another reason we might keep him there for a while."
Oh, and as for Joba, he gave up a career-high eight runs Sunday. His velocity hasn't been nearly as good as a starter as it was when he pitched in relief, and he has struggled to pitch efficiently enough to go deep into games. The Yankees are 11-5 in his starts, but he has won just once since June 1.
And since the Yankees need him in the rotation right now, there's no real short-term debate about where to put him.
Manny in New York: You can bet there will be plenty of booing Tuesday night at Citi Field.
The question, one Mets observer asked Sunday, is who will get booed more: Manny Ramirez or
Mets fans are unusually tough on their own players, but you'd have to figure that Ramirez will hear the most boos, in what will be his first true post-suspension road game.
You also have to figure that if the Mets had signed Manny last winter, as so many of their fans were begging them to do, those same fans would be cheering him wildly right now.
Counting pitchers: Baseball added a pitcher to each of the All-Star teams this year, with the hope that now they won't come close to running out of pitchers who can pitch.
Something else that could help: As of now, only three of the 16 starting pitchers named to the two All-Star teams are scheduled to pitch on Sunday, the final day before the break. The three who are scheduled for Sunday starts are Josh Beckett, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and already Buehrle has said that he will still be available to pitch an inning in the All-Star Game.
Three games to watch: 1. Orioles at Mariners, Tuesday. Erik Bedard returns from the disabled list to face his former team. He beat the Orioles last month, but there's more at stake this time. Either he's pitching to push the M's into contention, or pitching to raise his trade value.
2. Brewers at Cardinals, Tuesday. The last time Yovani Gallardo faced the Cards, he didn't allow a hit through five, had a two-hit shutout through eight, and still took a no-decision. At least this time Gallardo won't be facing Chris Carpenter, as Adam Wainwright starts for St. Louis.
3. Yankees at Angels, Sunday. The Angels offered Mark Teixeira $160 million, and they offered CC Sabathia $140 million. Both will be at Angels Stadium this weekend, playing for the Yankees. That doesn't mean the Yankees will win. They haven't won a series in Anaheim since 2004. And Sabathia is already 0-1 against the Angels since deciding not to sign with them.