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Blanton Must Go – Now More Than Ever
Posted By Christopher Rowe On Jan 13 2011 @ 5:16 pm In Philadelphia Phillies | No Comments
Maine is a decent pitcher in the back end of rotations. Over his career Maine has posted a 41-36 record with a 4.35 ERA in 105 starts. It would make sense that Maine would compete with Kyle Kendrick for the Phillies’ 5th starter spot and the “loser” of that competition would vie with Vance Worley for the bullpen longman job.
Maine suffered a major setback when he was removed from just his ninth start last year and missed the remainder of the season after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Maine’s agent reported that his recovery was going well and that there is no question that Maine will be ready for Spring Training.
The Phillies  have made it clear that they are looking to move Joe Blanton after signing Cliff Lee this offseason. Blanton is due $17 million over the next two seasons. Maine on the other hand has made about $6 million the past two seasons. By signing Maine and moving Blanton the Phillies could potentially free up $10 million. Ideally the Phillies as an organization would prefer to allow their pitching prospects more time to develop rather than rush them to the Major Leagues.
The Phillies have also had other prospects make a few starts the past few seasons but the team is not confident in these young guys contributing to the team just yet. Pitchers such as Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, JA Happ, Andrew Carpenter and Nelson Figueroa have struggled in their fill in roles in the starting rotation and the team is looking for a more experienced and proven player to fill that fifth rotation spot. Blanton proved over 3 seasons with the Phillies and in the NLCS last year that he is no more than a six-inning pitcher, who is prone to the gopher ball on bad days. Oddly enough, he was a “phenom” of sorts when acquired from Oakland in 2008. Another Oakland phenom that has flow beneath the radar is Henry Rodriguez (29 games last season, posted a 4.55 ERA, but average fastball velocity was 98.45 miles per hour last season. Rodriguez threw three straight fastballs clocked at over 100 mph in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game).
If the Phillies were to sign Maine, it would most likely be a one-year deal with a club option for 2012. Given his track record, Maine would most likely earn around $4 million in 2011 which is a deal the Phillies would definitely be able to afford. Other internal candidates include Kendrick, Worley, Eddie Bonine & Ryan Fierabend. As for external free agents, it is obvious that the Phillies have waited for the market to peter out. They did not pursue Chris Capuano or Carl Pavano after landing Cliff Lee. They have also been reluctant to bring in big-name free agent relief pitchers like Brian Fuentes, Arthur Rhodes and Rafael Soriano because the organization is trying to spend their funds frugally. Jayson Werth signed with Washington for $126 million, but Cliff Lee was landed for $120 million. It’s a question of allocation and investment and supply vs. demand.
Clearly the Phillies seek a blend of youth and experience which is why Maine leads a list of candidates who are not asking for $120 million contracts. Maine of course is a free agent but trading Blanton for pitching and another player (say an OF) solves
two problems at the same time. Rodriguez (OAK), Max Scherzer (DET), Edinson Volquez (CIN), Francisco Liriano (MIN) or Fausto Carmona (CLE) all remain potential candidates if the Phillies front office can find the right trade package. Some deals are less likely than others – especially because Blanton carries such a hefty price tag, but the suddenly pitching poor Yankees are not out of the running either. New York missed out on Cliff Lee, have not been able to sign Carl Pavano and have whiffed in their efforts to entice Andy Pettite back for another whirl. Facing the prospect of Sabathia, Burnett and Phil Hughes means that the Yanks would be hoping for a lot of rainouts (perhaps a midseason deal a la Roger Clemens)! Volquez has had limited ML service due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament which required Tommy John surgery – but has gained back all of his velocity over the two year recovery period.
Let’s not forget that Jamie Moyer has already said he is looking to make a return in 2012 and the Phillies could pursue a one year deal with him after the season so any long term deal with Maine is out of the question. Moyer is 48-years-old and will be 49 for the 2012 season. Perhaps senility is setting in early for Moyer if he believes that – but the Phillies might be seeking a pitching coach and the St. Joe’s product would fit very well at AAA Lehigh Valley. Actually Moyer is familiar with many of the current Phillies pitching staff so depending on the plans of Rich Dubee, perhaps Moyer could slide in as the major league pitching coach. That would depend on who the manager might be in 2012, which is another matter for debate. Stay tuned!
Additional Phillies content can be found at the following:
Blanton’s Trade Value, Ben Francisco & Bullpen Matters
Rookie Camp for Phillies Prospects
Phils Make Minor Deal for Cartwright
Spring Training Invitations Abound
Phillies 2011 Pitching Projections
Meet the New Southpaw… Same As the Old Southpaw
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 Philadelphia Phillies: http://bleacherreport.com/philadelphia-phillies
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