Sorry to disappoint the Phillies, Rangers and Cardinals, who are breathing heavily at the prospect of landing Halladay. But Jays' GM J.P. Ricciardi will hold onto his stud right-hander until the offseason, when he can expand the list of suitors and make a better deal. Waiting will also take the heat off Ricciardi, who's been heavily criticized in Toronto for even thinking of surrendering the franchise's most popular player midway through the summer. Make no mistake, though: even if it's later than sooner, Halladay will be moved.
Joe Torre retires at season's end
That is, if the Dodgers win the World Series. That's no long shot, given how balanced the team is with Manny Ramirez back in the No. 3 spot. One more ring gives Torre perfect closure on a managerial career that's already on a straight path to Cooperstown not to mention a last laugh on the Yankees. Of course, the Dodgers have to actually prevail for this scenario to unfold. And there's the matter of the $4.3 million Torre would be leaving on the table for 2010. But does he really want to keep managing into his 70s? Torre turns 69 this week.
Pedro signs with Phils -- and blows out arm
The great right-hander impressed scouts with a fastball that's back in the low 90s, and he ended up with the Phillies because of it. But there's no getting around the 2,782 innings that Pedro has extracted from his right arm; eventually it'll collapse again and land him back on the DL (which is where the Phils have already put him). Too bad, because Martinez will be remembered as the greatest right-handed starter of his generation. There's no need to keep pushing for a final curtain call.
Giants make serious run at the Dodgers
NL executives say this team is more dangerous than the standings suggest. "Believe it or not, they scare the Dodgers," said one talent evaluator. They could use another hitter, and losing Randy Johnson for six weeks won't help matters, but thanks to Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, the Giants lead the NL with a 3.51 ERA. It's worth noting, too, that they play 16 of their final 25 games at home.
Yanks lose East to Red Sox (but win wild card)
The Bombers will wish they'd found a way to solve the Sox earlier this season, going winless in their first eight games against them. The lopsided record will be the reason the Yankees don't win the East. Still, they'll be a tough October entity after holding off a late-season charge by the Rays. How far they go beyond that depends on whether Joba Chamberlain has been replaced by Phil Hughes in the starting rotation. If Chamberlain doesn't return to his former role as an eighth-inning set-up man, the Bombers will fall short of the World Series for the sixth straight year.
Albert Pujols wins Triple Crown (breaks real HR record)
The Hitting Machine will be the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, thanks to his incredible size, strength and work ethic. But Pujols' history-making season will be remembered for the 64 home runs he'll blast into the skies honored by the game's purists as the real heir to Roger Maris' previous record in 1960. Pujols won't let anything stop him; he's already played in 90 of the Cardinals' first 91 games. Machines don't rest.
Mets trade Jose Reyes
Maybe not today or tomorrow, but the front office will make this landmark decision some time over the winter, after the Mets fail to qualify for the postseason for the third year in a row. As difficult as it will be for GM Omar Minaya to make this deal, he'll be under enormous pressure to change the Mets' core and their culture of mediocrity. Reyes has the tools for greatness, but his .355 on-base percentage suggests an immaturity that may never evolve. Indeed, he may have already peaked. The Mets will swap Reyes for a front-line starter they desperately need to pair with Johan Santana.
Matt Holliday returns to National League
In Holliday's perfect world, he goes right back to the Rockies, where he once looked like a near-perfect hitter. But the A's are looking to move Holliday, partly because he's a free agent, and partly because he's been a disappointment in Oakland. GM Billy Beane figured he was getting a legitimate HR threat to combine with Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez and Jack Cust to form a latter-day version of the Bash Brothers. Didn't turn out that way. Instead, Holliday and his .419 slugging percentage will be sent to the Giants, Mets or Cardinals.
Bobby Valentine makes triumphant return from Japan
There'll be more than enough MLB teams looking for a boost from a high-energy manager whose run with the Chiba Lotte Mariners is coming to an end. How about the Mets for starters? Without a playoff berth, Jerry Manuel will be history. The Nationals? Safe to say their rebirth won't be launched by interim skipper Jim Riggleman. And unless Dusty Baker does better than a third straight fifth-place finish, he could be finished, too. Valentine has the brains, the experience (and the ego) to replace any of those guys.
Cliff Lee is (finally) traded
GM Mark Shapiro has been holding out all year on moving Lee, the AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner who'll be a free agent after 2010. But that was before the Indians sunk into the cesspool. Nineteen games under .500, they're a lost cause for '09 and need to make major changes if they're going to contend next season. Lee is understandably unhappy with the Tribe's trend-line he could be in the Phillies' rotation next week if Shapiro can pry loose a prospect or two like Kyle Drabek, Carlos Carrasco or Dominic Brown.