Mailbag: Joe Blanton

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(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Angelo asks: I live in Philadelphia, and there’s been some talk on sports radio of the Phillies dealing Joe Blanton to the Yankees. I don’t personally care for him, but he’d be cheap considering the Phillies desperately want salary relief. I don’t recall seeing any mention of him on RAB as of yet – if you’ve already discussed him, my apologies.

We haven’t discussed him yet, and that’s partially by design. As soon as the Phillies signed Lee everyone and their mother knew they’d have to trade Blanton just to keep the payroll in check. They signed the big right-hander to a three-year contract extension before last season, and there’s still two years at $8.5M annually left on the deal. Their payroll is already approaching $160M according to Cot’s and that’s only because Lee’s deal is so back-loaded. They still owe Ben Francisco and Kyle Kendrick arbitration raises as well.

Anyway, back to Blanton. He’s a pretty generic righty in that nothing stands out about him. His fastball is mostly in the upper-80’s and occasionally the low-90’s, and neither his slider, changeup, or curveball is a legit put-away pitch. Blanton’s strikeout rate unsurprisingly jumped once he got the National League, but it’s been decidedly below average over his entire career (just 5.82 K/9). He atones for that slightly by limiting walks, issuing just 2.33 unintentional free passes for every nine innings pitched in his career, and that number has been pretty steady over the last two or three seasons. The groundball rate has dropped off since his days with the Athletics, sitting around 41% now after being at ~44% for most of his career.

Blanton’s best quality is his ability to eat a boatload of innings. The 175.2 innings he threw in 2010 was the lowest full season total of his career, and that’s because he missed all of April with an oblique strain. That is the only disabled list stint of his career, and otherwise he’s thrown no fewer than 194.1 innings in any of his other five seasons as a big leaguer. I mean, that’s really it, there’s not much more to know about Blanton. He’s a decidedly average pitcher, with no more than 2.1 fWAR and no less than 1.9 fWAR in each of the last three seasons. Dead, solid, average.

Is Blanton better than Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre? Certainly. He could be a fine innings guy in the fourth or fifth starter’s spot, giving the team someone they can run into the ground to spare the bullpen every so often. The AL East will probably knock him down the peg into the 1.5 fWAR range, but that’s nothing more than my speculation. Don’t expect greatness, because you won’t get it.

As always, cost is the most important thing. Everyone knows the Phillies have to move Blanton because of their payroll situation, so their hands are tied. No one will give up anything of value, especially if they have to eat the contract. Philadelphia would preferably pay at least part of the $17M that Blanton is owed over the next two years, but even if they eat $5M or so, they’re still not going to get anything great back. I’m not a big fan, but he makes sense for the back of the rotation to a certain degree. The Yankees just have to make sure they get him almost for free. Ruben Amaro’s hands are tied, so take him to the cleaners. Anything more is an overpay.

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  • Nick!

    In addition to him being a bad idea for the AL East, I’d rather not justify Ruben Amaro’s bad ideas (re-sign Blanton and trade Lee! I’m a genius!!!) and let him get away with another miracle.

    If Amaro wants us to take Blanton then we say “Yeah sure, we’ll take his whole salary. But throw in that Hamels guy. He’s gonna get preeeeeetty expensive soon! And I hear he’s a big primadonna. Can’t have any of those on your team.”

    • Mike

      The thing is…he’s going to find a trade partner regardless. If you can get him reasonably cheap without giving up much prospectwise, is it worth not getting him just to prove a point to the Phils?

  • pat

    I’d take Joe Blanton only if they pay every cent of his contract.

    • Mike Axisa

      What if they pay $16,999,999.99?

      • pat

        I’m a man of principle, Axisa. No deal.

  • matt damon wayans

    I don’t see anything wrong with trading Ivan Nova for Blanton and Domonic Brown.

  • A.D.

    Wouldn’t mind having a decent innings eater as long as the cost is just money.


    Blanton would be a disaster in the A.L. East. He reminds me of Brad Penny, except with a lesser fast ball.

  • Beamish

    I think Blanton and the Yankees only works as part of a three team trade where Yankee dollars can go with Blanton to a third team while Philly gets a bag of balls and the Yankees get something they actually want.

    As to who that could be I have no idea since I have trouble seeing any team that would trade a better starter than Blanton just for some mild salary relief.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      three team trade where Yankee dollars can go with Blanton to a third team while Philly gets a bag of balls and the Yankees get something they actually want

      oh, you mean like an average innings eater to stick in the back of the rotation? like joe blanton?

  • Mike HC

    I can’t imagine any team just giving up a starter to the Yanks for nothing of value, especially the Phils. I think every team is secretly reveling in the Yanks misfortune this off season, and are not looking to bail them out even with a guy like Blanton.

  • Mark L.

    At this stage, I’d rather revisit the Tom Gorzelanny idea

    Also, if Pittsburgh eats most of the money, I wouldn’t mind Paul Maholm as a 5th starter/long man — his splits are still pretty decent and he could be league average with the right coaching.

    • Mike Axisa

      I wouldn’t touch Maholm with a ten foot pole. Everything is trending in the wrong direction from 2008-2010:

      IP: 206.1, 194.2, 185.1
      K/9: 6.06, 5.50, 4.95
      BB/9: 2.75, 2.77, 3.01
      GB%: 53.6, 52.1, 50.9
      FB velo: 89.6, 89.3, 87.9

      Pass. A thousand times pass.

      • Clay Bellinger

        Wow. Those are some nasty looking trends.

      • Mark L.

        Thanks for scoping that out. I’ve always felt Maholm could be a poor man’s Washburn, truly puzzling how he’s gradually become such a bad pitcher. On that note, would it be a waste to offer Washburn a mL deal to see if he can rebound?

        Oh well, I’m still onboard for his former compatriot Gorzelanny.

      • Craig

        And they drafted that clown No. 8 overall or something close to that. F’ing soft-tossing lefties. Teams/scouts keep drooling over them and keep getting shat on. Serves PIT right.

        Just a mini vent.

  • Clay Bellinger

    How did the Phils ever think that this contract was a good idea?

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “We haven’t discussed him yet, and that’s partially by design.”

    Someone please just point out if I’m missing something, but I don’t think that statement ever really was explained. What was the design? Why did you not discuss Blanton? The post went on to explain why the Phillies want to unload him, but I don’t think the post explained why RAB chose, by design, to not discuss the matter.

    • Mike Axisa

      There’s no particular reason, no one felt like writing about him, that’s all.

      • Clay Bellinger

        Because he’s such a boring option?

        • Craig

          Yes, and his face is so annoying. I would hate to have to watch that chunk nugget on the mound every fifth day getting his titties (I wouldn’t be surprised if he literally has man tits) ripped to pieces.

  • FIPster Doofus

    I’d rather not have an offseason in which Philly steals New York’s prime target and then proceeds to trade its worst starting pitcher to the Yankees in a payroll bailout move. Having Lee go the Phillies was bad enough; taking Blanton off their hands would be like getting dragged through the mud.

  • OldYanksFan

    Well…. Blanton ain’t much… but he’s better then Sir Sydney?
    If the Phils ate $5m, JB comes at 2/$12m. $6m/yr doesn’t buy much SP these days, and if he’s better then Mitre, he probably helps some.

    The real question in evaluating SPs now, is to first do an evaluation of who may be available as a salary dump in July. As I’ve said before, Cashman is better in the summer then in the Winter.

    Truth is if we got him for 2/$12m and ending up not needing him, we could eat $4m, and probably trade him for a semi-crappy but possibly useful player… maybe a UINF or RH bat.

    It’s amazing what NOT having Lee does for our finances. Overpaying a bit on any 1 or 2 year deal is hardly worth thinking about.

    But again, who might be available in July?

    • Slugger27

      Blanton ain’t much… but he’s better then Sir Sydney?

      what does that have to do with anything?

  • Pounder

    Joe Blanton = Sidney Ponson.Prepare yourselves for Freddy Garcia.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Joe Blanton is a no in opinion and Patience is a yes. Give the kids some playing time especially if Andy comes back. If not then have Patience until ST. If the ST trade doesn’t work out then go to July if necessary based on our standing in the division or Wild Card.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    I’d much rather give Brad Penny a shot than trade for Blanton

  • Ace

    Why would Cashman be inclined to help Amaro, after he snaked him with Cliff?
    I think, let Amaro feel the CBT they are so close anyway to the 170MM, leaving him no room to improve his line up, w/o going over.

    No Blanton!!

  • Bernard

    Ok so Pavano is going to get something like 3 years, 30 million – explain to me ANY way that Pavano is better than Blanton. Nearly identical xFIPs, Blanton has a better K-rate, Pavano a better BB/9. For what it’s worth Bill James projects Blanton as having a better year.

    Blanton’s contract calls for $17 million over 2 years, the average market rate for a win (by WAR) this offseason has been significantly over $5 million (though if we remove those reliever contracts it normalizes to around $5 mil). Blanton is actually a bit underpaid and is only 30 – he’s been worth roughly 2 fWAR each of the last 3 years and significantly more over the 3 proceeding.

    • Bernard

      Ok I come on too strong with ANY way – but they’re extremely comparable

  • Baltimore Yank

    Blanton’s ERA in the NL was 4.8, a disaster than in the AL EAST. Let A.J. Burnett give us 200 innings and a 4.5. I think Nova can do 150 innings and 4.5.

  • gmrich

    I keep saying give the kids a chance to grow and learn, Nova is better than Blanton, and for the 5th starter spot, give it to the kid Phelps, he pitched at Scranton and was 14-9, hje is better than Mitre, and Blanton, just be patient, sometimes you need to take a step back to move 2 steps forward, and you will be able to save some money, it will also be fun to watch the young players grow.

    • sfly6844


  • phillyguy

    Your crazy to think you will get Blanton for nothing. His stats are as good as Pavano’s and he is five yrs younger. The Phils could take Blanton and use him until some team is desparate for pitching during the season. If the yanks have a pitching injury your season could go up in flames rather quickly. The bidding for Blanton starts with Nunez.

    • CapitalT

      If we have a pitching injury that puts the team up in flames (CC, Hughes, Carol), Blanton isn’t the guy who fills the gap.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Blanton’s horse shit. The Yanks would have a better chance at winning with me in the rotation.

    /Not Sarcasm’d


    TIME OUT NY… Phillies did no stealing. Lee, simply preferred not
    to stay in Texas & pitch in that horrendous humidity & felt before
    he would even seriously consider the Yankee offer perhaps he should
    knock on Philly’s door to see if there was any interest. Lee settled
    on the amount of years but did get $24 M per year.

    The truth is what the moral of this off season is; You never put all
    your eggs in one basket, & if you dare to do so, you do it with a
    time to accept deadline of 72 hours. That would have forced Lee to
    either accept or decline but not shop around.

    Now Mr. Cashman get’s to roll up his sleeve as a General Manager &
    not as a Director of Spending. So no more climbing down buildings,
    no more putting your eggs in one basket, no more open ended mega
    offers with no time limits, have yourself a Merry Christmas Brian &
    then please use your resources and find a creative way out of this
    mess. Spin it however you wish, but Plan B involves more than just
    a mechanically adjusted Burnett, & if Andy doesn’t return then it
    will be just that much more.

    Let’s go Brian…Time to show your pinstripes too.

    Happy, Healthy Holidays to All!

    • Mike

      Merry Christmas :D

    • Paul

      Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Pavano, Wright, Clemons II & III, A J, Marte, Vasquez I & II. ATEIAB(All the eggs in a basket) Lee. One Championship in 10 years with the biggest payroll in baseball. Good job Cashman. Bob Watson & Gene Michael built the 90’s team. Plan B?
      Can’t wait for another dynasty with all these prospects he’s holding on to. Montero was good enough to catch 3 weeks ago. He’s a con artist. Imagine what it would be with an average GM.