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J.P. Ricciardi surprised teams didn’t step up to get Roy Halladay

10.07.10 at 9:02 am ET
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The Red Sox reportedly offered five players for Roy Halladay when he first hit the market midway through the 2009 season. It wasn’t enough.

Now we flash forward to Wednesday night in Philadelphia, where Halladay could not only be found pitching in the National League Division Series with the Phillies, but also tossing the second-ever postseason no-hitter, and first since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

What has time told us: Whatever the investment needed to secure Hallday — which in the case of Philadelphia was Cliff Lee (who was entering the final year of his contract), along with minor league prospects Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor – it probably would have been worth it. Not only was it Halladay’s second no-hitter this season — which included a 21-10 record, 2.44 ERA, and 250 2/3 innings — but now, for the first time, the 33-year-old has shown his value when it comes to pitching in October.

J.P. Ricciardi, the former Blue Jays general manager who first fielded offers for Halladay in ’09, said the payoff shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“To be honest, I really was surprised,” noted Ricciardi when asked if he was taken off guard by the fact no team gave up the kind of package the Blue Jays had originally asked for.

“I think a lot of it was that maybe we appreciated him a lot more because we saw him do this. Maybe pitching in Canada, he didn’t get as much attention. I’m really happy that people across the country are getting a chance to see what he’s all about. We kept sitting there saying, ‘This is Roy Freaking Halladay! Do people know?’ Not only will you have him for this year, but you’ll have him for next year. And whomever trades for him, he’s probably going to go to a place he’s going to want to stay. There’s no way we’re going to settle for one prospect, or 1 1/2 prospects. We’ve got to get a bunch of prospects because we’re dealing someone really, really special here.

“There’s a handful of guys like that in the game. [CC] Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, him. But in fairness to all those other guys, Doc has been doing it for a long time. We kept sitting there saying, ‘For us to move this guy we have to get something back that is really going to be worth it.’ And we still wouldn’t get back what we’re giving up.”

The Red Sox moved on from Halladay, instead choosing to hold on to their prospects and sign free agent pitcher John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. At the Lackey press conference, Sox general manager Theo Epstein said the following:

‘€œWe had interest in Halladay dating back to the trade deadline and early in the offseason. Well before [Halladay] was moved, it was clear he wasn’€™t going to be a factor for us based on the asking price, which is reasonable. I think [Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous] did a really good job. We weren’€™t prepared to pony up the prospects in addition to the salary that would have been required.

‘€œWe’€™re in a pretty good spot now. If you look at what we’€™ve done, I do think we’€™ve improved the 2010 red sox. I think we’€™ve improved our long-term outlook. We’€™ve added draft picks, we hope to add more draft picks ‘€“ I think we probably will ‘€“ and we haven’€™t touched our prospect inventory at all. All of those different factors contribute to a healthy organization, what your team looks like next year, what it looks like in the future, what your commitments look like, what your draft-pick bounty in next draft, and how many prospects you’€™re able to retain, at least ones you believe in. In all of those areas, we feel like this is a pretty good solution for us.’€

While it was Halladay’s first experience in the postseason, the fact that the righty turned in a stellar outing when it counted the most didn’t surprise Ricciardi as he watched the game with his two sons in their Worcester-area home.

Ricciardi’s confidence in how Halladay would perform on the big stage stemmed from what he did when pitching against the Red Sox and the Yankees in their home parks. Since 2004, the righty totaled a 3.86 ERA at Fenway Park, while notching a 3.08 ERA during that span in Yankee Stadium.

“He’s not going to be afraid, he’s not going to back off, he’s not going to be shy,” Ricciardi noted. “If you watch the game, he had great movement early in the game. When guys are fouling pitches off of him, you know his stuff is really good. He just had great stuff.

“He’s so prepared. I guaranteed there was nothing left uncovered going into the game. This isn’t a rookie going to the game. He’s a veteran player who has pitched in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, a lot of big games. I’m not surprised at all. Obviously, I didn’t think he would go out and throw a no-hitter, but I’m not surprised he competed as well as he did.”

The image of Halladay, who needed just 104 pitches to finish off the Reds in Philadelphia’s 4-0 victory in Game of of their NLDS, also didn’t take Ricciardi off guard. The starter (who issued just one walk) showed little emotion until he secured the the final out.

“He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. He stays within his plan. He’s not going to get rattled by the situation,” the current ESPN analyst said. “The clinching game, he wasn’t rattled by that. He pitched this game, he wasn’t rattled by that. I think the scary thing for me would be is now he has a taste of it, watch out, because he’s going to want the whole enchilada. It’s was a typical Doc day in terms of coming in and punching in. But to realize that he and Don Larsen are the only two guys to do this, that’s incredible.

“Any given night you wouldn’t be surprised if this guy did amazing things. But I think the most important thing for me, that will always will stick in my head with Doc, is how he competed when we faced the Yankees and the Red Sox. He didn’t give an inch on any of those games. I think that’s what made him a better pitcher, pitching against better competition.”

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