Hope everybody had a happy thanksgiving, but that's over now. It's time to get back to discussing baseball's hot stove, which right now should be getting close to a rolling boil in advance of next month's winter meetings in Indianapolis.
Obviously Roy Halladay is the biggest name on the block, as he was back in July, when he was first dangled by the Jays and general manager J.P. Ricciardi. Ricciardi is out now, leaving new helmsman Alex Anthropoulos in the same pickle Twins G.M. Bill Smith found himself in with Johan Santana two offseasons ago. Namely: a new G.M. with an ace in his prime one season away from free agency.
And, just as was the case in 2007, the two biggest suitors are the Yankees and Red Sox -- both of whom could easily afford to ink the ace to the extension he so richly deserves.
Because this is a minor league blog for the most part, let's run down the list of prospects each team could dangle to help complete their Roy Story.
1. Casey Kelly SS/RHP: After the deal for Victor Martinez in July purged their system of prospects Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, Kelly's status jumped. A product of the 2008 draft, Kelly can play a legitimate big league shortstop -- with enough bat skills to make good, consistent contact, and can hit the low-90s on the radar gun.
2. Ryan Westmoreland OF: A burner in center field, the Red Sox refused to part with Westmoreland in the Martinez deal. With Lowell this season, the 19-year-old put up a .296/.401/.885 line with seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 19 steals in as many chances. For the Jays, who would like to be rid of Vernon Wells sooner rather than later, Westmoreland would be a nice seed to plant down on the farm.
3. Clay Buchholz RHP: We all know the deal on Buchholz: Prized prospect, big curveball, devastating change-up, no-hitter already on his resume, still just 25 years old. Down the stretch in '09, Buchholz seemed to turn a corner, and posted the best start the Sox had during their short playoff stint. Parting with an ace will be hard for the Jays, but a potential ace-in-the-making like Buchholz could certainly soften the blow.
4. Daniel Bard RHP: After the B.J. Ryan experiment went bust, the Jays have been looking for a closer extraordinaire to hand the ball to at the end of games. The 24-year-old Bard, with his 100-mph fastball, may -- in time -- be just the man the Jays are looking for. I could quote many, many stats to exhibit Bard's excellence, but instead I'll give you just one: In 49.1 innings with Boston this season, he fanned 63 hitters.
1. Jesus Montero C: By now, everyone who follows either the Yankees or the Thunder knows Montero's name. He's the young, soft-speaking catcher with the loud bat who has wowed scouts and fans alike wherever he goes. Combined between Tampa and Trenton this season Montero hit .337/.389/.951 with 17 home runs, 70 RBIs and just 47 strikeouts in 347 at-bats. He will be a part of any deal the Yanks can spin to get Halladay.
2. Austin Jackson OF: As referenced with Westmoreland, if the Jays are going to eventually get rid of Wells in center, they're going to need a replacement. Jackson could be that guy. He hit an even .300 this season in the International League, but with diminished power that could -- and should -- return as he matures as a hitter. He plays an excellent center field and boasts an above-average arm.
3. Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain RHPs:
Like Buchholz, most -- if not all -- baseball fans know the names Chamberlain and Hughes. They're the starters turned relievers -- for now -- who helped the Yankees win their 27th World Series in 2009. Both boast above average fastballs and premium offspeed pitches that help them dominate hitters. Best of all, neither pitcher is 25. Whether their futures are in the 'pen or as starters, both seem to have excellent careers ahead of them.