By Jon Heyman
July 29, 2009

Despite the self-imposed Blue Jays deadline of Tuesday, plus semi-regular predictions from Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi that Roy Halladay will remain a Blue Jay, Toronto is still in discussions with multiple teams, and many competing executives still believe Halladay will be dealt.

These execs still can't see the Jays taking it all the way to this point, only to do nothing in the end. And they don't necessarily see the Phillies getting folks' hope up there, and them doing nothing, either. (Though if the Phillies don't get Halladay, Cliff Lee remains a viable option for them, as well.)

If there are hurt feelings between the teams as they compete for the better end of the deal, execs with other teams see them both getting past it to work something out. So much work has been done, so many plans made. And as for Halladay, he may already have his bags packed, at least in a figurative sense.

"There's no putting the genie back in the bottle," one competing GM said.

There's pressure on the Jays, as Rogers Communications recently announced they were cost-cutting. And there's pressure on Philly, which badly wants to repeat as World Series winners. Word is that Phillies executive Pat Gillick and manager Charlie Manuel are stumping for Halladay, raising the possibility of a compromise offer.

Ricciardi seems to be quoted every other day saying a Halladay trade is "unlikely," or words to that effect. Yet, he hasn't said he's sticking to his original self-imposed Tuesday deadline. And talks appear to continue.

The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, Brewers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees are among teams to have inquired about Halladay. But most of those teams appear to be all but out of it now, including the Dodgers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees. The Red Sox kept themselves in the mix by offering top pitching prospect Clay Buchholz, pitcher Michael Bowden and outfielder Ryan Westmoreland, according to, and while that doesn't seem absurdly low, one competing GM insisted, "that won't get it done." The Angels also have exchanged names, though their reluctance to surrender shortstop Erick Aybar appears to be a sticking point for them, oddly enough.

Generally speaking, the recent reported offers seem to be getting close to reasonable. That's another reason a deal seems pretty likely.

Plus, Halladay's value will never be higher. He is the perfect pickup in that an acquiring team will have him for two cracks at a title but not be obligated to give him an extension. Halladay deserves credit for not making this about the money.

An impasse halted talks over the weekend with Philly, but competing execs still believe a compromise will be struck between the Jays' asking price of pitchers Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ and outfielder Dominic Brown, and the Phillies' reported offer of pitchers Happ and Carlos Carrasco, outfielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Jason Donald.

How about Drabek and Happ alone? Or Happ, Donald, Carrasco and Brown?

The Jays didn't make their deadline. But they are telling some teams that they want to focus on the Halladay situation before considering trades for their coveted relievers, including Scott Downs and Jason Frasor. In a weak relief market, their relievers are becoming very popular.

The Orioles' portly closer George Sherrill is another viable reliever, but one executive said that will be an "overpay." The Dodgers and Angels are among teams looking at Sherrill, with the Dodgers pressing hard.

The Diamondbacks appear to be leaning toward keeping Chad Qualls, while the A's are saying the same about Michael Wuertz. Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal. But in this barren market, it seems like it.

Heath Bell has saved 24 games, and he could single-handedly save a dreary relief market.

He is available, though just barely.

The Padres are telling teams they will need to fill "multiple needs" if they deal Bell. Their needs, as identified by one competing exec, are corner bat, starter, catcher and middle infielder.

While the Red Sox are talking about Halladay and Lee, their focus remains offense. They've talked to the Indians about a deal for both Victor Martinez and Lee, but some believe they'd simply sell off Lee if they could pull off that deal.

Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez appear to be their top targets. But the Padres are saying they are even less likely to trade Gonzalez than Bell (though they're not especially likely to trade either). As one competing exec said, "There's no pressure on San Diego to trade [Gonzalez]. He's affordable, productive and local."

The Indians are in an awkward position of waiting on Halladay to see what to do with Lee. The Phillies, who match up well with Cleveland as well as Toronto, see Lee as their main fallback option. But if they get Halladay, there will be no Lee for them.

The Yankees bowed out of the Lee talks after Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes was requested in a package. The Dodgers and Angels might not be perfect matches, as their best young pitchers are already contributing to the big-league team. Joe Saunders has struggled lately, so a trade of him for Lee would represent at least marginal improvement. The Dodgers are said to be disinclined from trading players on their current major-league team.

The Indians are working hard on both Lee and Martinez, who's coveted by the Rays as well as the Red Sox. While the Indians may have to wait, the chances for deals for their two stars seems to be rising.

The Giants are aggressively pursuing Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who could aid their limp offense.

The acquisition of Ryan Garko certainly didn't solve all the Giants' offensive woes, and with Juan Uribe starting to slip, Sanchez makes perfect sense for them.

The Giants took Garko for well-regarded left-handed pitching prospect Scott Barnes after failing to land Nick Johnson. The Nationals requested Jonathan Sanchez in a package for Johnson, and that might have been a fair request before Sanchez's no-hitter.

The Angels and Twins also have been mentioned as Freddy Sanchez suitors, but the Giants look like the favorites.

Mets GM Omar Minaya's quick decision to pull New York Daily News beat writer Adam Rubin into the Mets' mess was not a good one, as Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said the day after Minaya's foolish ad-libbing went awry. Wilpon rightly called it a "very large mistake."

Minaya needs to stick to a script, or at the very least, some serious talking points. He can't go off onto a tangent and question the ethics of the writer who wrote stories the Mets ultimately agreed were true. He looked spiteful and not very professional.

Wilpon also said he reached out to Rubin to apologize, and that Minaya would do that same, assuming Rubin is willing to take his call. Wilpon said he saw nothing wrong with Rubin seeking job advice from him and at least one other Mets official (Tony Bernazard, strangely enough).

Wilpon basically backed Rubin. Journalistically, Rubin's request for job advice is pretty questionable coming from a team's beat writer. It's just hard to imagine him asking Bernazard for help, then writing the series of stories that later led to Bernazard's firing.

But there's no evidence that Rubin "lobbied" Mets executives for a job, as Minaya said, or even that he ever sought a job as an executive in the organization. And Rubin's stories were accurate enough to have expedited Bernazard's firing, at the least.

Minaya was obviously annoyed to have to fire his friend, who is also a very talented baseball man, and he lashed out at Rubin in anger. It did seem at least curious that Rubin and the Daily News wrote so many stories about Bernazard, the team's VP of player development. It appeared to be piling on when they ran a back page story about Bernazard getting upset about being misidentified as the team's bus driver. But it wasn't Minaya's place to talk journalism.

Beyond that, if you're going to accuse someone of having an ulterior motive, have the facts and be precise. But why accuse a beat writer who got it right? And why, after supposedly firing Bernazard for bullying tactics, would Minaya bully the beat writer?

According to friends, Minaya immediately recognized that he erred in calling out Rubin, although his first apology in which he only he said he picked the wrong forum was woefully short. Minaya was said to be "visibly shaken" Tuesday, but ready to do a better apology Wednesday.

Minaya might also apologize to the Wilpons while he's at it for creating a mess out of what should have been a simple firing.

• Maybe Minaya wasn't kidding about the Mets being buyers. The Mets held a scout conference call Tuesday and discussed the need for a left-handed reliever. Pedro Feliciano, who pitches every day, will be relieved to hear that.

• The Dodgers look like the most likely landing spot for Sherrill.

• Tampa Bay will consider anything, and one competing GM swears it briefly dangled outfielder Carl Crawford a few weeks ago.

Bobby Abreu leads the majors by driving home 22.6 percent of the runners on base when he comes to the plate. That's the highest percentage since Larry Walker in 2002.

Freddy Garcia is making progress for the White Sox and could help in the pennant push.

• Some acted stunned Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game. But really, he was as good a candidate as almost anyone for it. He'd previously thrown a no-hitter whereby he pitched to the minimum 27 batters, as he picked off Sammy Sosa after walking him. He's also thrown a one-hitter and a two-hitter and had 61 games when he walked zero.

• Buttoned-down, by-the-book John Ricco, one of the smartest people in the business, would seem like a pretty good bet to be promoted in a rejiggered Mets hierarchy.

•Time to go tweet. Follow me at:

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