Billy Beane has done it again.
He managed to trade away Rich Harden and get good prospects in return, something expected when giving up a top of the line starter.
But Beane pulled off a great trade in dealing Joe Blanton away for three Phillies' minor leaguers.
Philadelphia sends Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman, and Matt Spencer to the A's for only Joe Blanton, a pitcher who has regressed significantly after a strong 2007 season.
Joe Blanton will be the fourth best pitcher on the Phillies' staff behind Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, and Kyle Kendrick. With the possibility of Brett Myers gaining his command and form back, Blanton would be slated as the team's fifth starter.
The Phillies gave up too much of their future to upgrade their fifth starter from Adam Eaton or Brett Myers to Joe Blanton.
Adrian Cardenas could be the next star Billy Beane grooms and has in the bigs within two to three years. Cardenas is considered one of the top two hitting prospects the Phillies have in their system. He projects to either be a second basemen or corner outfielder if his defense doesn't project.
Baseball America recently produced a revised mid-season list of the top 25 Minor League prospects and Cardenas just missed the cut. He ranked 76th overall entering the season.
Cardenas is the type of player the Phillies could have used as a centerpiece to get an A.J. Burnett or Eric Bedard; not Joe Blanton.
What's worse about this trade for the Phillies is the other two prospects they dealt away.
Now outfielder Matt Spencer is just in A ball, but he's a solid prospect who could have again been used in a deal to bring in a better pitcher.
Left-handed pitcher Josh Outman is one the Phillies' best five minor league pitchers. He's got great stuff that he's been fine tuning in double-AA.
The Phillies organization has tried to turn him into a relief pitcher, but his transition to the bullpen has been a tough one at times. He's improving rapidly and has his earned run average down to 3.20 which is still below his career minor league ERA of 3.00.
Outman dominated during his time in single-A, and his progression at double-AA has been a little slow, but he's still progressed enough that it wouldn't be too surprising to see Outman in a Sacramento RiverCats uniform, Oakland's triple-AAA affiliate.
Is there a chance this deal could work out in the Phillies favor? Definitely.
Blanton did have three pretty solid seasons in Oakland, winning 42 games with an ERA around four. Blanton is locked in until 2011, so the Phillies will have him to work with him for awhile. He was a first round pick in the 2002 draft so he obviously should have the stuff to be a solid major league starter.
Cardenas and Outman are also just prospects. Some prospects develop, some don't. Outman has shown he might not have what it takes to be a reliever.
While Cardenas doesn't have a lot of downside right now, he's still only in single-A ball after being drafted in 2006.
But overall, the negatives just don't outweigh the positives for the Phillies.