The baseball world was abuzz yesterday with news that the Toronto Blue Jays would listen to offers for ace Roy Halladay, and trade him for the right package of talent.

The news was not a surprise at Citizens Bank Park.

Word is Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. became aware of the 32-year-old righthander's availability in a conversation with Blue Jays officials on Monday.

Go get him, Rube.

Go get Roy Halladay.

Go all in and take a chance at making some history in this sports-crazy town.

Go get Roy Halladay and set this team up for another World Series run or two before its nucleus of talent gets on the other side of 30.

"He's the best pitcher in baseball," said one scout who watched the Phillies play the Cincinnati Reds last night. "He'd win 27 games in the National League."

Amaro didn't return phone calls yesterday, but one member of his inner circle said the Phils were serious about pursuing Halladay, who has a career record of 141-68, and described the prospect of getting him as "exciting."

Matt Stairs' eyes lit up when he fantasized about the possibility of being reunited with his former Toronto teammate.

"He's the best pitcher in the American League, probably the best pitcher in the majors," Stairs said. "He'd give us another horse. We'd be a lot more dangerous. He'd give us two No. 1 guys with [Cole] Hamels.

"Roy is like a Chase Utley. He's intense. He gets to the park early. He works his ass off. He watches games and studies hitters. Jamie Moyer prepares for starts well. It would be a battle to see who prepares better.

"It's going to cost an awful lot to get him. I would do it. But that's coming from me because I played with him and I know what he's all about."

There would be hurdles in acquiring Halladay, who won 20 games last year and is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 starts this season. They don't appear insurmountable.

The Jays don't have to deal Halladay. General manager J.P. Ricciardi says he will listen to offers and will deal the 2003 American League Cy Young winner only if one of the offers blows him away.

Halladay has a no-trade clause. Would he waive it to come to Philadelphia? Let's see, the Phils have made the postseason two straight years, won a World Series last year, and lead their division this year. In 11 big-league seasons, Halladay has never made the postseason. You can bet the ranch he'd come here. After years of being a baseball wasteland, Philadelphia is now a destination point. Halladay would love the offense this team produces, and manager Charlie Manuel and the bullpen would love the innings the consistent 220-plus-inning man would provide.

One hurdle could be money. Halladay is owed about $7 million more of his $14.25 million salary for this season and $15.75 million for next season. The Phils have a club-record payroll of $133 million this season. Last night was their 32d sellout. They can afford an additional $7 million, and Halladay would surely help to keep the sellouts coming. As for next year - no problem: The Phils are freeing up about $29 million with Brett Myers, Adam Eaton, and Geoff Jenkins coming off the books.

It could be a little hairy if Halladay would require a contract extension beyond 2010 to waive his no-trade clause, but the Phils would have to be open to that. Halladay is that good. And it's not as if he's as old as Pedro Martinez. (The pitching-needy Phils scouted the 37-year-old free agent yesterday.)

The big question in the Halladay sweepstakes will be whether the Phils have enough young talent to satisfy the Jays' rightfully high price. One scout who has followed Halladay's availability said he believed the pitcher would end up with Boston or Anaheim.

"The Phillies don't have enough," he said.

We disagree.

The Phils' system is not teeming with blue-ribbon talent, but there is some, and probably enough to interest the Jays - if the Phils are willing to part with enough of it. To make this trade, it would definitely take three strong prospects, maybe four or five.

Is that a lot?


But was that parade fun?


The Phillies have three untouchable prospects in their minor-league system - pitchers Kyle Drabek and Jason Knapp and outfielder Dominic Brown. Drabek should stay off limits. But if it took one of the other two to lead a package to get Halladay, the Phils should consider it. Of course, it would take more than that - maybe a combination that would include a Jason Donald, a Lou Marson, a Michael Taylor, or one of the Phils' pitching prospects not named Drabek.

The Phils should be able to find the right combination of talent, and they should take this shot. You don't mortgage the future for just anybody, but Halladay isn't just anybody.

And besides, with this team, the future is now.

Go get him, Rube.

Go get Roy Halladay.

Go all in and take a chance at making some history in this sports-crazy town.