Anthopoulos, Jays move on from Doc
General manager says there is still a lot of work to be done
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos might be able to breathe a little easier now. The Roy Halladay trade is now officially in the rear-view mirror and the young Blue Jays general manager can move on to his other offseason goals.
"I think we have a lot of work to do," Anthopoulos said. "We have a lot of other calls to make, a lot of other players I'm still trying to acquire, some I have been trying to acquire for a few months. I don't know how the talks are ultimately going to progress, but I certainly still have a lot of irons in the fire and I'm going to pretty aggressively continue to pursue those."
Anthopoulos' primary goal is to focus on the organization's long-term plan, searching for young, controllable players who can be a part of Toronto's future core. By dealing Halladay to the Phillies, Anthopoulos was able to net talented prospects in pitcher Kyle Drabek, first baseman Brett Wallace and catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
The Blue Jays are looking beyond 2010, but the reality is that Anthopoulos also has to continue to adjust the roster for the upcoming season. The biggest issue now facing Toronto is finding a way to replace the innings it lost by parting ways with Halladay -- known for his ability to last deep into games.
"It's definitely a concern," Anthopoulos said. "You lose the innings that Roy Halladay provides for you. More than the innings, what he does for your bullpen. Halladay's leading the league in complete games, that's almost like getting a day off for your 'pen. It's certainly a factor, especially with a young starting rotation. It's something we'll continue to evaluate."
With Halladay no longer in the mix, the Blue Jays' top two starters are right-hander Shaun Marcum and left-hander Ricky Romero. The problem there is that Marcum, who is believed to be healthy after a a long recovery from right elbow surgery, has not pitched since 2008. As for Romero, he has only 178 big league innings under his belt.
Behind Marcum and Romero, the current leading candidates for rotation jobs include Marc Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Scott Richmond, David Purcey, Robert Ray and Brad Mills. Those six pitchers have combined for 465 1/3 Major League innings, or an average of just more than 77 innings each. Only Richmond and Purcey have appeared in more than one big league season.
Halladay was an old-school workhorse in his time with the Blue Jays. Consider that the right-hander averaged more than 213 innings over the past eight seasons as the leader of Toronto's staff. That number is skewed slightly by injury-shortened campaigns in 2004-05. Over the past four years, Halladay logged more than 232 innings on average.
Under the circumstances, Anthopoulos might now be looking for an affordable veteran pitcher to help consume innings in 2010. The general manager used right-hander Kevin Millwood as an example. Baltimore just acquired Millwood in a trade with Texas to give the Orioles' rotation an experienced innings eater.
"Ideally, you'd always like to have that," Anthopoulos said. "You look at a guy like Millwood, a guy who can pitch 200 innings. When you talk about trades, it's all about in terms of what the cost is going to be. Some of those players you can acquire in trade you'd have to give up some young, controllable players."
That is something Anthopoulos does not want to do. The Jays have a surplus of young arms, but the club does not want to sacrifice potential pieces of the long-term plan, especially when the team does not expect to compete for the playoffs in 2010. Anthopoulos also noted that there do not appear to be great options through free agency, either.
Toronto will look for help, but the club is prepared to head into the season with the arms currently in place. Anthopoulos is quick to note that the Blue Jays are looking to reach a period of sustained success, and getting to that level is going to take time.
"We're never going to concede," Anthopoulos said. "We're always trying to win and put the best team that we can on the field. But I think we've been very clear, it's important that we're transparent and we're honest that we're shooting for more than a .500 club or over .500 or a quality club.
"We're looking to be a great club and we need to build towards that. There's really no quick fix."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.