The weather here in the northeast is unbelievable. I hope everyone is staying safe and not trying to travel in this snowstorm and the aftermath of it.
Speaking of the northeast, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t made too many moves this offseason, but the one move they did make had major impact on the landscape of Major League Baseball. When they signed Cliff Lee, they sent a ripple effect throughout baseball that everyone is still talking about.
Now with Lee in the fold, the Phillies have four aces in their five-man rotation. The fifth guy, Joe Blanton, might just be the odd man out.
The Phillies are looking to trade Blanton so they can free up money to potentially make a move if they have to during the season. Now that the Phillies are looking to trade the former Oakland Athletic, let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and which teams could be interested in Blanton.
In a day and age where finding pitchers to eat up innings is a rarity, Blanton can eat up innings with the best of them. In his six full seasons in the Major Leagues, Blanton has averaged 199 innings a season. That’s pretty good.
And those 199 innings a season aren’t hollow innings. There is some substance in his performance.
While a lot of people will look at Blanton’s 4.82 ERA and notice it was tied for the highest of his career, he also had some bad luck in 2010. Hitters had a .331 BABIP against Blanton in 201o, which is about 30 points higher than their career average against him. I would expect that number to come back down in 2011, which will make Blanton’s peripherals look a lot better.
The last pro for Blanton is his contract. Two years and $16 million for Blanton is a pretty reasonable contract—$8 million a year is the going rate for a No. 3 or 4 starter these days and Blanton has performed to that amount throughout his career.
On most nights, Blanton is a guy who is going to pitch five or six innings, give up eight hits, four runs, 3 walks and strike out three while throwing 110 pitches. That’s remarkably average.
And Blanton was remarkably average in 2010. He saw a dip in his K/9 from 7.5 to 6.7 and he had his highest WHIP since 2006 at 1.42.
A team is going to have to ask themselves are they willing to assume $16 million in salary and trade a couple of prospects for No. 3 starter at best. That line of thinking could eliminate a lot of teams as trade possibilities.
Now that we looked at the pros and cons of Blanton, let’s see which teams might be interested in trading for the former University of Kentucky hurler.
Washington Nationals: If the Nationals miss out on Carl Pavano, Blanton could be a fall back option. Sadly, Blanton would be the Nationals’ No. 1 starter in 2011.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have had their eye on Matt Garza for some time now, but if they can’t pull off a trade for him, then Blanton could be Plan B.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks need a pitcher, but I think they A) don't want to trade young players and B) don’t want to assume Blanton’s salary.
New York Yankees: It would be such a slap in the Yankees' grill if the Phillies traded Blanton to New York to fill the spot that should have been filled by Lee. But what do the Yankees do if Andy Pettitte retires?
Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have done a lot of good things this offseason, like adding Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, but their starting rotation is still horrendous. Perhaps Blanton can fill the role that Kevin Millwood filled last season or should I say, attempted to fill.
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