Yeah, I know...I'm sick of the speculation myself. But it was interesting to read in the National Post of Toronto that the new GM of the Jays is planning on moving Halladay, after conversations with the pitcher which reveal his desire to play for a team planning on winning in 2010 instead of rebuilding.
Even more interesting is that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos admits the best return for Halladay would have been at the trading deadline last July, when then-GM JP Ricciardi didn't (or couldn't) pull the trigger on a deal. That signals two key points (A) the Jays are seeking to trade Halladay as a courtesy to him, and (B) the new GM has realistic ideas of what the revised price of just one season of Halladay at $15.75M will be.
I have been back and forth with myself over this, and as always, the devil is in the details--what would the cost be in return players to make this happen? Where I begin to lean towards advocating a deal is in that Halladay has had much experience pitching very successfully against the Red Sox and Yankees, who figure to be in our path once again next October. Our pitching against the Sox and Yanks was generally very good--it was offense and defense which were the weak points--but the ability to schedule a genuine ace for Game 1 of the ALDS and ALCS, as well as the World Series, is a tremendous strength. The 2-2-1 schedule of the ALDS and 2-3-2 of the ALCS and World Series makes winning at least one of the first two games essential.
Hallday would assume the ace role for 2010, with Weaver, Santana, Kazmir and Saunders rounding out the rotation, as deep as any in the game. I am assuming that Lackey's payroll expectations will not mesh with the Angels' plans for 2010 and beyond, so these five would be the guys who step out every game. This also allows Weaver one more year to grow without added pressure and develop further into a front-line pitcher.
Then Halladay's deal is up at the end of 2010. If he pitches like Cy Young (literally and figuratively) then the team could consider negotiating an extension and attempting to get him to stay; otherwise, they FedEx him his WS ring and 2011 sees a matured Weaver at #1, with a kid (Bell, O'Sullivan, Ortega, Reckling, Walden) stepping into the #5 slot. This gives the team the flexibility to allow the younger pitchers to mature on their own schedule, instead of out of necessity.
Finally, two more assumptions: (1) the team will sign Saunders to a deal much as it did for Santana, locking him up through 2013, and (2) Weaver is good as gone when his free agency arrives for the 2013 season, as Boras will be shopping him like the second coming of (fill in the name of the last savior pitcher Boras hawked). Kazmir and Santana have 2012 team options, so either or both may be gone that season, depending upon performance. By the end of the 2012 season, the Angels might well have 2 or 3 kids in the rotation, gaining experience.
That's the expensive way to go (spending $16M on Halladay for 2010). The less expensive route would be to get a journeyman or reclamation project (like Sheets, Harden or Bedard) to fill in the back end of the rotation, with Weaver assuming the #1 role immediately.
I expect we'll know by early December which route the team plans to take, by viewing its pursuit of either Halladay or a lesser starter to replace Lackey.