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Roy Halladay Closer to Anaheim

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First the facts: J.P Ricciardi's pronouncements that he will need to be blown away by an offer for Roy Halladay all smack too much of posturing for the best deal. One can be confident that the Jays are going to trade Halladay and already have offers in place.

The Angels are in the hunt and Arte Moreno's public pronouncements are a reminder that he has the cash to spend and the desire to win.

NOW THE SPECULATION: Philadelphia looks like the favorite, Texas has the best prospects, The Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Rockies and Giants all have their possibilities.

The latest rumors posit Toronto asking the Angels for Joe Saunders, Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar and a prospect for Roy Halladay. I have it on excellent authority that Erick Aybar is Arte Moreno's favorite Angel so that deal would have to substitute Sean Rodriguez to work and I believe Saunders might be the best major league ready pitcher that will be offered their way.

Believe it or not, major league teams function differently than fans posting on the internet. They place more value in a 28-year old proven middle rotation All Star than in a AA arm or infield bat on the bubble, no matter how many "Top Prospects" awards he receives from blogs around the world. With that in mind, understand that if Tony Reagins tries to force Ricciardi's hand, he may get Halladay for Saunders, Wood and S-Rod.

No matter what package any of the contending teams puts together, there is little talk of someone comparable to the major league track record of Joe Saunders that will be made available to the Blue Jays.

And then a prediction: At this juncture in the Trade Deadline process, I have to believe that Roy Halladay will be on the mound for the Angels in the Metrodome on Friday, July 31.

UNLESS: Could the Ninja Reagins be using the Jays as a pawn to get a better deal for Cliff Lee? Saunders straight up for Lee? Does anyone dare play the mighty JP Ricciardi for a fool? Playing a GM is a delicate game as people in the business do not like to be toyed with - is the Ninja mastering a game whereby he measures the job-longevity potential of an on-the-bubble Ricciardi and breaks an unwritten rule of backing out too late in order to make a better deal? Can Reagins safely operate under the assumption that JP will be jobless before the Angels might ever need to deal with the Jays again? Can he get the Jays to commit to a deal, turn around and nab Cliff Lee while preventing JP's BJs from dealing Halladay to an AL opponent?

Don't ever count out what Tony can cook up at Del Taco or in the Toronto front office.