One month ago, Phillies Nation took the collected works of Joe Blanton – culminating with a much-ballyhooed meltdown in the NLCS – and was salivating over prospects and players that could be garnered in a trade. Most pundits indicated that the Phillies would be foolhardy to pay $17 million over the next two seasons for a “mediocre fifth starter.” Just a few weeks ago it seemed like fait accompli Joe Blanton would be pitching elsewhere in 2011.
This morning Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked about Blanton’s future and said, “I expect him to be here. Those things can change obviously. It’s not etched in stone. There’s nothing forcing us to do anything either way. I’m not comfortable doing it. I don’t want to trade anybody. I like our club.” That is following comments Amaro made Tuesday,”He’s going to pitch for the Phillies, probably for the entire season.”
Amaro said he is uncomfortable trading Blanton because he likes the depth of the current five-man pitching staff. Should the Phillies trade Blanton and something were to befall Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley likely would be the team’s fourth and fifth starters. Keeping Blanton in the fold ensures the Phillies have one of the best No. 5 starters in baseball – according to Amaro.
The Phillies had shopped Blanton since they signed Lee to a $120 million contract in December claiming they need to create payroll flexibility. Blanton will make $17 million over the next two seasons. Teams that had been looking for starting pitching no longer are looking, which probably is the biggest reason Amaro is planning to keep Blanton. More specifically, those teams who seek more starting pitching are looking in a much lower price range than Blanton. The Brewers acquired Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. The Rangers signed Brandon Webb. The Tigers signed Brad Penny (sending Armando Galaraga to the minors). The Nationals just acquired Tom Gorzelanny. There simply are few places for Blanton to land at this point, especially if teams are unwilling to take on most of his salary… Except one… the New York Yankees… but even the Yankees aren’t so foolish as to bring on Blanton and his $17 million price tag. Are they? Well, they haven’t brought back Carl Pavano, can’t convince Andy Pettite to commit for more than half a season and will rely on Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and whatever Spring Training Invitees they can wrangle… so perhaps they are finally changing their pinstripes?
“No, sir,” Amaro said. “Kyle will be fighting for a job in the big leagues.”
It is possible the Phillies could try to trade Kendrick, although if Amaro likes his roster’s depth that makes less sense than trading Blanton. Kendrick is relatively affordable and is an attractive No. 6 starter after going 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 33 appearances (31 starts) last season. Remember last season Blanton and J.A. Happ opened the season on the disabled list. Jamie Moyer then blew out his 48-year-old elbow in July. Even Lee missed time last season with the Mariners and Rangers because of injuries.
It’s good to have starting pitching depth, and for the moment the Phillies have it.
Asked if Blanton’s presence completely closes the door on right-hander Chad Durbin returning to the bullpen, Amaro said, “I was pretty comfortable with the club as it stood a month ago. I think once we filled the left-handed need (with J.C. Romero) we felt pretty comfortable about where we stood.”
Let’s see if we have this straight… Blanton is not being traded, Kendrick is signed for one year, John Maine, Fausto Carmona and the laundry list of target pitchers are now not being considered and the bullpen is stable with the addition of J.C. Romero? Really?
looking to trade Blanton and Mayberry for a true #5 hitter that could play the outfield. A month ago were happy with the likes of Kendrick and Worley as “pitching depth” and wanted financial flexibility (a.k.a. dump Blanton or Ibanez with their bloated salaries) so that we could pursue Maine, Carmona, Francisco Liriano or Edison Volquez. A month ago we were investigating options so that we could keep Ben Francisco and Ross Gload as “role players” in a platoon situation. Now the response is essentially “We’re good?” Horse hockey!!!
Methinks there were no offers for Blanton or Ibanez (even with the “added bonus” of John Mayberry Jr), Fuentes wanted too much money and/or none of those “other” pitchers wanted to sign with Philadelphia for less money than Kyle Kendrick. Truth be told, there is still no clear #5 hitter behind Howard, a double platoon of Ibanez/Mayberry and Francisco/Gload would be a huge mistake and the bullpen is so painfully in need of a lefty who can actually get batters out that Jamie Moyer and Rich Dubee are having a coin flip over who will be pitching coach and who has to come out of retirement (technically Moyer is recovering from Tommy John
surgery and thinks he will pitch in 2012). Other candidates for this new reality show called “Washed Up Lefties of Philadelphia” include Al Holland, Shane Rawley, Terry Mulholland and Sparky Lyle. Mitch Williams declined the invitation because he likes his gig on MLBTV. Actual active major league candidates are not much better aside from Brian Fuentes, who announced he signed with Oakland today, closing the door on the Phillies bullpen shopping list. Who did we get? JC Romero. Funny because we cut a guy named JC Romero after the 2010 season – largely due to ineffectiveness and inconsistency.
Well let’s hope that our Four Aces are enough. Remember that Amaro is very likely banking on his ability to make midseason Trade Deadline deals (as in the past for Moyer, Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Ben Francisco and Mike Sweeney. He needs to hope that a team out of the running by July is looking to unload either a shutdown lefty bullpenner OR a Jayson-Werth-type hitter to bat behind Howard in exchange for a 39-year-old glorified DH and a BBQ-hoarding overpriced 5-2/3 innings starter owed a combined $17 million dollars?
Kind of like opting not to fill your canteen or your gas tank before driving through the Mojave Dessert because you assume you’ll find an inexpensive gas station with a no fee ATM and a Diet Shasta vending machine. Theoretically it is possible … but not terribly likely.
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Feel free to submit your own nicknames for the Phillies 2011 rotation. You can leave suggestions in COMMENTS below.
So what ARE we calling the Phillies 2011 Starting Rotation? FOUR ACES? FOUR HORSEMEN, PHOUR LOCO, FANTASTIC FOUR, MT. PHIMORE, FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, THREE MEN AND A BABY?, FAB FOUR? BIGGER THAN JESUS?, PHOUR PHOUR PHOUR – HOW DO YOU LIKE ME, HOW DO YOU LIKE ME?… FOURPLAY? R2-C2?
You decide. Best nickname wins two tickets to Phillies game in 2011
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About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org