Talking after the Philies' 4-0 win over the Reds, in which Roy Halladay notched the second no-hitter in postseason history, former Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he was "surprised" that more teams didn't meet the Blue Jays' asking price when Halladay was first put on the market midway through the 2009 season.
"To be honest, I really was surprised," Ricciardi told WEEI.com Wednesday night. "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. 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 say, 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 had shown interest in Halladay, reportedly offering five players for the pitcher at one point. But, in the end, the Jays and their current general manager, Alex Anthopolous, decided to go with a three-way trade involving the Phillies, Mariners, and Jays, in which Philadelphia gave up Cliff Lee (whose contract was expiring after the 2010 season), and minor leaguers Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor.
The 33-year-old Halladay went on to sign a three-year, $60 million extension (with a $20 million option for '14) with the Phillies after Philadelphia made the Dec. 16 trade.
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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