These five places are where Halladay fits best

If Toronto general manager J.P Ricciardi can’t figure out a way to make Roy Halladay fit into his long-term plans, the best solution in Toronto would be to keep Halladay and get rid of Ricciardi.

The franchise would be in better shape.

And nobody should understand that better than acting Blue Jays President Paul Beeston, who knows what it takes to build a championship team in Toronto, which is something that has escaped Ricciardi in his eight seasons on the job.

It was, after all, Beeston who stepped in when it came time to make a managerial change last summer. Anyone who doesn’t believe that Beeston’s fingerprints were all over the return of Cito Gaston, the man who managed the Jays to back-to-back world championships, ought to check out that oceanfront property in Arizona.

Ricciardi used to hide behind the excuse that it was tough to compete with the financial wherewithal of the Red Sox and Yankees, but then along came the Tampa Bay Rays, with the lowest payroll in baseball, to win the AL East last year, finishing ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees, in addition to the Blue Jays, and advancing all the way to the World Series.

So now the talk is about next year being the year for the Jays. Even Gaston was singing that tune as long ago as spring training. Well, if the Jays think they are close enough that next year is their year, it makes absolutely no sense to think they would benefit from trading the best pitcher in the game, a pitcher who has acclimated quite well to life in Canada.

So the budget is going to be tight next year if Halladay is still around? Just exactly who is the guy who oversaw the multi-year deals that have eight players guaranteed $81.668 million for 2010? And why would the best solution to dealing with that problem be getting rid of the best player on the team, who is far from the end of his career? And if the decision is made to move Halladay, why would the man who has created the mess be deemed capable of extracting a quality package in return for the greatest player ever developed in that organization?

Heck, if it wasn’t for the $36.77 million in contracts the Jays have eaten in recent years — including $15 million earlier this month for B.J. Ryan, which incorporates $10 million of the money guaranteed for 2010 — the guy who handed out those contracts wouldn’t be suggesting that to eliminate the financial pain he has created, the Jays should be eliminating the contract of the one guy under contract who is worth every penny he is being paid.

What should be is not always what is. And so the speculation continues on where Halladay will be come August 1.

The five teams that make the most sense are:

Blue Jays

Halladay is the ace of the staff and the foundation of the franchise. It is a team that could well be a sleeper next year, particularly with Halladay to carry the load. Right now, the Jays have the fourth-best rotation ERA in baseball, and that’s with Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan sidelined by injuries but expected to be able to step back into the rotation behind Halladay next year. And they have an offense that ranks in the upper half of the AL in most every category despite subpar seasons from Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, both of whom can be expected to rebound in 2010.

Brewers

Nobody has better insight to Halladay than Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash. Halladay was the Jays’ No. 1 draft choice in 1995, which was the year Ash was promoted to the job of general manager of the Blue Jays. The Brewers got burned by CC Sabathia, giving up quality prospects, and then failing to re-sign him after the season. Halladay, however, is a different story. For one, he’s signed for next year. For two, he’s not going to be forced by the Major League Players Association into a situation he doesn’t want. Halladay isn’t a bright lights guy. He could fit quite comfortably into Milwaukee, and the Brewers do have the prospects to satisfy the Jays’ needs.

Phillies

Pat Gillick is now a special assistant to the Phillies, but he has plenty of input and has a good feel for Halladay having been the architect of the Jays who stepped down for his hand-picked successor, Ash, to take charge in 1995. The Phillies have the prospects to deal, and while they may not need Halladay to win the disappointing NL East, they might decide it’s worth the season-and-a-half investment to lock up a second consecutive world championship.

Angels

The Angels are lacking that No. 1 starter. They have a quality rotation and it’s good enough to win the AL West, but when it comes to a short series in October, they don’t have the arm to set the tone in a Game 1 or to shut things down in a Game 7. Halladay provides that.

Dodgers

Halladay would be the title insurance the Dodgers need, and it would seem that after the salary purge of the last offseason, the Dodgers would be able to afford Halladay’s salary. But then maybe the financial concerns are greater at Dodger Stadium than anyone has let on. That would be the only reason for the Dodgers to balk at being able to bring in a quality starter in Halladay for a rotation that is trying to nurse Randy Wolf through the season and has turned to hoping for a miracle cure for Jason Schmidt.

Five teams that could but won’t

Red Sox: Money isn’t a problem and neither is creating a proper package of prospects. But a person can only eat so much ice cream. The Red Sox don’t see any sense for overkill. They have rotation depth. Besides, they already have their own pitching contract decisions looming, beginning with Josh Beckett.

Yankees: GM Brian Cashman feels justified for not overpaying to acquire Johan Santana, and the feeling in the Bronx is this isn’t a lot different. The Jays would have to get a steal in return for allowing Halladay to join another team in the AL East.

Mets: They’d rather overpay Oliver Perez on potential than cough up similar money for Derek Lowe’s proven track record. Enough said.

Braves: Halladay would fit perfectly into the Braves’ pitching-rich history. The farm, however, isn’t as deep as it once was, and the budget isn’t as big as it used to be when Ted Turner was writing the checks.

Cardinals: This is the classic showdown. Halladay fits perfectly into the Tony LaRussa-Dave Duncan world, but LaRussa and Duncan are outsiders in an organization controlled by bean counters and calculators.