Jays hold the key

Roy Halladay got a warm greeting from St. Louis fans during the red-carpet parade for the all-star game. They chanted “We want Roy!” as he sat on the back of a vehicle and waved.

Roy Halladay got a warm greeting from St. Louis fans during the red-carpet parade for the all-star game. They chanted “We want Roy!” as he sat on the back of a vehicle and waved.

Get in line. The Blue Jays ace is sure to be a popular guy over the next couple weeks.

Halladay’s future is the most pressing question as baseball revs up for an intriguing second half, with muddled division races that once again could come down to the final days. General manager J.P. Ricciardi is listening to offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, making the right-hander the biggest chip on the open market ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Halladay could tip the balance in the AL East if the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays make the best offer, or boost Philadelphia’s chances of winning a second consecutive World Series. Contending teams across baseball are salivating at the thought of inserting the ace into their rotation.

“Obviously, I’m somewhere that I enjoy being and have spent my entire career. There’s a lot, I think, that goes into it,” said Halladay, who would have to agree to any deal.

“I think as a player, there’s that will to win, that will to do it in October and basically that’s what all of this has been about. I would like that chance.”

Any number of clubs would love to give him that opportunity, including each of Toronto’s biggest rivals in the East. The Blue Jays’ division is still the toughest in baseball, showing off its top-to-bottom strength during the American League’s 4-3 victory over the NL on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford made a highlight-reel catch and won the MVP award. Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon got the decision and New York’s Mariano Rivera finished for his record fourth all-star save. Even lowly Baltimore got into the act, with Adam Jones hitting a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

The Blue Jays, who dropped back after a fast start, are talented enough to hurt the division’s top teams down the stretch, even if they decide to trade their best pitcher. Boston and New York were tied for the lead heading into the final weekend of the first half, but the Red Sox won three straight against Kansas City and the Yankees were swept by the Angels.

Don’t forget about the defending AL champion Rays, either. Tampa Bay was 6 1/2 games back.

“We have a small payroll. We’re always going to be underdogs, and I love that,” Rays slugger Carlos Pena said. “To know that we haven’t played I think up to our full potential, and we’re still in the race, is comforting.”

Just Posted

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

FREDERICTON — Police have released the Fredericton apartment complex that was the… Continue reading

Police seek public’s help after East Coast lobster thieves strike again

SAINT-SIMON, N.B. — There has been another crustacean caper on the East… Continue reading

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising a first under new Saskatchewan law

SASKATOON — A court hearing related to money raised following the Humboldt… Continue reading

Weed’s want ads longer, marijuana job searches up as industry grows: study

OTTAWA — The growth of Canada’s soon-to-be-legal recreational pot industry is starting… Continue reading

Google Generation’s push for more technology transforming health care: survey

TORONTO — Digitally savvy Canadians who make up the Google Generation are… Continue reading

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Keep bribes quiet for 10 years, FIFA won’t punish you

LONDON — FIFA has officially eradicated corruption. All it took was pressing… Continue reading

Beyoncé honours ailing Aretha Franklin at Detroit concert

DETROIT — Queen Bey dedicated her performance with husband, Jay Z, to… Continue reading

‘Outlaw King’ to open Toronto film fest; ‘Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy’ to close

TORONTO — The world premiere of David Mackenzie’s “Outlaw King,” starring Chris… Continue reading

Male model convicted of murdering rival after online feud

LONDON — A British fashion model has been convicted of murdering a… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month